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Retired autoworker, school teacher vie for Democratic nomination in Berkeley County Council race

May 01, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Lam
Lam

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A retired General Motors worker and a Berkeley County school teacher are vying in May 8 primary election to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for a seat on Berkeley County Council.

Larry Lam, 65, of Appian Way in Martinsburg, and Mark T. Barney, 33, of Nimitz Lane in Hedgesville, W.Va.,are running in the Potomac District. The winner will face Republican Edward “Ed” Wilson, who is not opposed for his party’s nomination in the district.

The winners of two Berkeley County Council seats in the November general election are expected to serve six-year terms. The annual salary is $36,960. 

“If elected, I would fight for more transparency through my support of The Sunshine Law. I believe citizens deserve timely and meaningful responses to their concerns,” Lam said in his candidacy announcement.

“As a county council member, I would look forward to working with our state representatives regarding issues that reach beyond local assistance.”

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Lam said in a brief interview Tuesday that he has long held an interest in government and noted his involvement in a utility issue in recent years that led him to want to do more.

Barney, who currently teaches civics at Hedgesville High School and advises the student government there, said the focal point of his election bid is fiscal responsibility.

“We have to be careful with the burden we put on our taxpayers,” Barney said in a news release. “Citizens have to adjust their personal finances to changing economic times and government needs to adjust with them.” 

Barney said he also hopes to see continued involvement in government by members of the community, especially young people.

“People see government as too remote, too elite and too bureaucratic. Having a connection to someone involved in government may make people in the community more aware of what is going on around them and it should give them a better sense of belonging.”

A lifelong Berkeley County resident, Lam graduating from Martinsburg High School and served one year in Vietnam with theU.S. Armybefore he was honorably discharged.

He retired from GM in 2006 after working 38 years with the company as an hourly worker and held elected positions with the United Auto Workers in that time.

Lam said he has served as president of the Spring Mills Farm Homeowners Association for the last five years and coached in the Martinsburg Berkeley County Girls Softball League for 10 years.

Lam said the cost of utilities is a particular concern to him and believes the county council is in a position to help residents, if only to point them in the right direction to resolve their concerns.

If elected, Barney said he will be paid less as a school teacher due to his absence from school to attend weekly county council meetings, which are regularly held on Thursday mornings.

Barney said school administrators have not discouraged him from running for County Council and he intends to have the same substitute teacher cover his classes. A Hedgesville High School and Shepherd College graduate, Barney said he has worked for Berkeley County Schools for 10 years.

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