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Four vying for two open Martinsburg city council seats

June 03, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Top, left to right, Gregg Wachtel, Donald T. Anderson, and bottom, left to right, C. William Hayes and Kevin Santana are candidates for two open Martinsburg City Council seats.
Top, left to right, Gregg Wachtel, Donald T. Anderson, and bottom, left to right, C. William Hayes and Kevin Santana are candidates for two open Martinsburg City Council seats.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — An incumbent member of the Martinsburg City Council, a former councilman and two political newcomers are seeking the two open seats that represent city residents at large in the June 12 municipal election.

The four candidates are incumbent Councilman Gregg Wachtel, former longtime Councilman Donald T. Anderson, and newcomers C. William Hayes and Kevin Santana.

Wachtel and Anderson are Democrats, Hayes is a Republican and Santana has no party affiliation.

Council members serve four-year terms and are paid $2,400 a year.

Wachtel, 59, of 605 Foxcroft Ave., who is in his 16th year on the council, shared a longtime partnership with his brother, Richard Wachtel, at WRNR, a local talk-radio station. About a year ago, while still maintaining a share of the station’s ownership, he took a job as a dealer at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in Charles Town, W.Va.

He said his long years as an active council member, including chairing numerous council committees, plus his service to his community, more than qualifies him for another term.

Wachtel said he’s running again because he wants to witness, as a member of the council, the completion of the $37 million Raleigh Street extension that will usher traffic around the downtown bottleneck.

He said one of the city’s biggest issues is its ability to maintain financial stability, especially in difficult times.

“We have to keep up services without raising taxes,” he said.

Anderson, 85, of 505 Edgemont Terrace, is a retired deputy superintendent for Berkeley County Schools. He ended a 17-year run as a member of the city council in 2007.

Anderson figures all those years of service will stand him in good stead with voters.

He said he decided to run “because so many people came up to me and said that the city needs somebody back on the council like me. I got to thinking that I have the time and if I’m elected, I can do it.”

He said one of the city’s biggest challenges will be meeting new federal requirements forcing multimillion-dollar upgrades to the city’s sewage treatment system to comply with new rules for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup.

Hayes, 74, of 1006 Candi Court, retired from a 24-year career at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. More recently, he retired after serving five years as director of the Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority.

Hayes, who moved to Martinsburg 10 years ago, said he feels that his years as a manager in government and private-sector positions would be an asset to the council and the city.

He said he’s running because the council needs a new look.

“We need new people with fresh ideas. Some members have been on the council too long. I think I can make a difference,” he said.

The city’s biggest problem stems from the lack of commerce in the downtown core, as evidenced by all the empty storefronts, Hayes said.

“We need to make the city friendlier, to actively recruit new businesses downtown,” Hayes said.

Santana, the youngest of the four at-large candidates, is 35. This is his first foray into elected politics.

He lives at 312 E. Liberty St. and makes his living driving a limousine, he said.

He jokingly claims he’s not “running for office. I’m walking for office, but I’m taking this campaign seriously.”

Santana said he’s campaigning as part of a group of six candidates who are running as a bloc.

“Half the stores downtown are empty,” Santana said, pointing to what he believes is Martinsburg’s most pressing issue. He wants to make all businesses pay a uniform rate in the city’s business and occupation taxes. They range from one-half a percent to 3 percent, he said.

Santana said he has experience as a Berkeley County volunteer firefighter and EMS provider, in addition to formerly being a dispatcher for the Berkeley County 911 Communication Center.

Early voting for the election, which will seat a mayor and seven council members, may be done every day until Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the J. Oakley Seibert Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 232 N. Queen St.

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