Eight vie for Charles Town council

May 03, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- Three incumbents and five challengers are on the ballot for the May 28 election for four open Charles Town City Council ward seats.

A fourth incumbent, Amy Schmitt in Ward Two, is stepping down.

Incumbents running are Sandra Slusher McDonald, Ward One; Donald Clendening, Ward Three; and Geraldine Willingham, Ward Four.

The five challengers are Nancy Schaffer, Ward One; Chet Hines and Wayne Clark, Ward Two; Larry Vogler, Ward Three; and Rich Bringewatt, Ward Four.

Incumbent Mayor Peggy A. Smith is being challenged for the top city job by Robin Huyett Thomas. (You can read their story on our Web site at

The four incumbent council members whose terms are not up this year are Michael Slover, Ann Paonessa, Marylois Gannon-Miller and Ruth McDaniel.


The top vote-getter in each ward will win a council seat.

The mayor's job pays $4,800 a year and council members earn $2,400.   

The council candidates are:


Ward One

  • McDonald vs. Schaffer

    McDonald, a lifelong resident, said her council record has been one of "promoting a balance between needed economic development, and preserving our cherished history, traditions and quality of life."

    She is vice president of the Jefferson County Fire and Rescue Association. 

    McDonald, her husband, Mark, and daughter, Nikki Smith, live on North Lawrence Street.

    Schaffer moved to Charles Town six years ago. She said she gained affection for the city while restoring her West Liberty Street home.

    "I envision a vibrant downtown Charles Town where we can honor our history by restoring existing structures, revitalizing city center land, creating neighborhoods and attracting businesses," she said in her campaign literature.


    Ward Two

  • Hines vs. Clark

    Hines has lived all of his 61 years in Charles Town. A Vietnam War veteran, he said he has benefited from the public service of others and it is now his "civic duty to undertake the responsibility and challenges of community service."

    Hines is employed as operations manager at Prudential Shultz Realty and is active in the American Legion.

    He and his wife, Mary Louise, have four sons. They live at Blakeley Place. 

    Clark, a Charles Town resident for five years, lives at 397 Davis St. This is his first try for a council seat.

    He owns a mortgage brokerage firm in Jefferson County. A founding member of a "thriving business-to-business networking organization," according to his campaign material, Clark said he has a passion for business.

    As a councilman, he said he will work hard to bring new business to the city.


    Ward Three

  • Clendening vs. Vogler

    Clendening has a long résumé as a councilman, member of the police civil service commission, chairman of the city planning commission and on the committee that revised the city zoning and subdivision ordinances, among others.

    He said if re-elected, he would continue to serve "with a great deal of personal commitment."

    Clendening and his wife, Alice, live at 533 Brooke St. and have two grown daughters.

    Vogler's background is in education. His campaign focuses on making Charles Town a "walkable community where citizens and visitors can enjoy the architecture and local history." 

    He also sees the need for providing recreational resources for city residents.

    "Education and recreation have always been the keys to the healthy lifestyle my family and I have enjoyed here in Charles Town for 24 years," he said in his literature.

    Vogler and his wife, Carol, live at 127 Fourth Circle.

    Ward Four

  • Willingham vs. Bringewatt.

    Incumbent Willingham points to 23 years as a councilwoman who has "always been for all people. I belong to no special-interest group," she said in campaign literature.

    She is on the council's finance committee and has served on the parks and recreation committee. She has worked on the city's Christmas parade for 43 years.

    She and her husband live at 410 E. Washington St. and have raised four children.

    Brigewatt is making his first run in local politics.    

    He said new leadership is needed to get the city through economic revitalization, improve health and wellness services, and promote heritage tourism.

    He is president of the National Health Policy Group, which advocates improving the nation's health-care systems.

    A Vietnam War veteran, he said he and his wife "plan to spend the rest of our lives in Charles Town."

    He lives at 403 E. Washington St.




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