Nine seek election to Harpers Ferry Town Council

June 02, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Harpers Ferry election

When: June 9

Where: Camp Hill-Wesley Methodist Church

601 Washington St.

Polls open: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Early voting at Town Hall until June 8 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. -- Nine candidates, including four incumbents, are running for all five Harpers Ferry Town Council seats that are up for grabs this year.

Eleven residents originally filed for the election in January.

Midge Flinn Yost and Carrie Ellen Gauthier dropped out of the race, but too late to have their names removed from the June 9 ballot.


Two other candidates, longtime Mayor Jim Addy and Kevin Carden, who filed for recorder, are running unopposed.

Addy said the number of candidates who filed for council seats "is more than we've ever had." He said topics such as the proposed private $75 million Hilltop Hotel replacement project and zoning issues have pumped interest into the council election.

Incumbent one-term Councilman Brendan Soennecken is not seeking re-election, nor is incumbent Town Recorder Betsy Bainbridge, who also served one term.

Carden, who has lived in Harpers Ferry for four years, ran for recorder two years ago and lost to Bainbridge in a three-way write-in campaign. He said he came in second.

The council candidates are incumbents Dan Riss, Robert Johnson, Joe Anderson and Charlotte Thompson, and newcomers Laura Lee Clark, Robert DuBose, Elayne Edel, E. Jeremy Hutton and Patty Morse.

Harpers Ferry has a population of about 320 residents. Town elections often bring out 80 percent of the 130 registered voters, said DuBose, a challenger for a council seat.

A retired U.S. Foreign Service diplomat, DuBose is a former chair of the town's historic landmarks commission.

He ran for council two years ago and lost by one vote, he said. He said he's been asked by some citizens to run again this year.

Riss has held a council seat since 1997. The Harpers Ferry resident of 34 years said he feels the need "to contribute what talent I may have to the service and betterment of my community."

Johnson served on the council previously. He was elected in 2007. He said he's running again this year because he "wants to continue to serve."

Anderson also wants to keep his seat for another two years. "I learned that it's not easy being a politician.You have to balance different interests." He said he ran the first time because he is retired and wanted to volunteer.

Thompson filed for re-election to a fourth, two-year-term. She thinks her experience on the board gives her familiarity with some of the pressing issues before the town, including needed upgrades to its infrastructure and water system.

Clark has served on the town's planning commission and is a member of the Harpers Ferry Foundation. She has lived in town and has owned The Outfitter store on Potomac Street for 12 years, she said. Her experience as a certified public accountant will bring useful skills to the council, she said.

Morse has lived in town for 25 years. An event planner for a home mortgage company, she has been a longtime member of the Harpers Ferry Parks and Recreation Commission. Morse said now that her children are older she has "time to give to the town."

Edel, another longtime resident, wants to preserve the integrity, historical aspect and residential nature of Harpers Ferry. "We need to keep its 19th century village atmosphere," she said.

Hutton is making his first foray into politics. The retired federal government employee said he has time to serve. He also said the council can use some new views and new blood. He lived in the adjoining town of Bolivar for 24 years before moving to Harpers Ferry two years ago.

Yost said she dropped out of the election because increased business pressures are taking too much of her time.

Gauthier said she removed herself from the campaign because when she filed she didn't know who was running. As things turned out, she said, "There is a great slate of candidates."

The mayor's job pays $6,000 a year, the recorder is paid $3,000 and council members are paid $2,000 a year.

The council meets on the second Monday of the month.


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