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Williams joins race for mayor

Election 2012
Feb. 01, 2012 @ 08:59 AM

HUNTINGTON — A Huntington city councilman joined an already-crowded field for mayor Tuesday, the last day that candidates could file for the position and council’s 11 seats.

Steve Williams, who was elected to council in 2008 and is the governing body’s Finance Committee chairman, submitted his candidacy forms shortly before the City Clerk’s Office closed for business Tuesday. He is one of five candidates vying for the Democratic nomination to attempt to unseat Republican incumbent Kim Wolfe. Wolfe, meanwhile, will face Dale Anderson II in the Republican primary.

The primary election is May 8.

Wolfe, who was elected in 2008 after serving eight years as Cabell County Sheriff, said his re-election campaign will focus on bolstering public safety, continuing cleanup efforts in the city, collecting delinquent taxes and fees and repairing the city’s aging infrastructure.

"Quite frankly, I think even with a depressed economy that we are working with, we have been very efficient in running city government and will continue to do that,” Wolfe said. “I have a good staff around me and we’re headed in the right direction and feel good about the future.”

Williams said he has considered a run for mayor for more than a year. The decision came down to whether he could be more effective as a councilman or as mayor, he said.

“I could either be one of 11 or I could be the chief executive and making the financial decisions at the very outset and creating a vision and building a consensus in the community,” Williams said.

Williams said his platform will be crafted over the next several weeks, but two main planks will be reigning in the city’s financial problems and advocating changes in the City Charter, he said.

“We need to amend it to make sure we have a professional city manager running the day-to-day operations coupled with a mayor who can articulate their vision for the city and improve communication with our representatives in Charleston and Washington, D.C.,” Williams said.

Among Williams’ opponents in the Democratic primary is Carl Eastham, a retired Huntington firefighter of 26 years who is now a field representative for the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office. Eastham ran for the House of Delegates in 2008 and 2010. He has said that he will focus on managing the city’s finances, job creation and creating a transparent city government. Stephen Anderson Jr., Artie “Dino” Battista and Jasper Black are also running for the Democratic nomination.

District 9 Councilman Jim Insco, who also contemplated running for mayor, did not file for the office. He cannot run for council again because of term limitations.

Twenty-six candidates filed for City Council’s 11 seats, although three spots — Districts 1, 5 and 6 — are uncontested.

Several candidates added their names on the last day for filing, including Cal Kent, vice president for Business and Economic Research at Marshall University’s Lewis College of Business. Kent, who will run as a Republican for an at large seat, previously served three terms on council through 2008.

Joyce Clark, a Democrat, is the lone candidate in District 1, which covers the Westmoreland area of Huntington.  District 1 incumbent Jim Ritter did not file for re-election due to health reasons. He joined District 4 Councilman Nate Randolph on the list of incumbents who are stepping down when their term expires at the end of the year. Council Chairman Mark Bates, a Republican, was the only candidate to file in District 6. The district includes parts of Huntington’s east end. Councilwoman Sandra Clements, a Democrat, was the lone candidate to file in District 5. That district covers Fairfield West.

A political party’s county executive committee can choose a candidate to fill a ballot vacancy, but must do so by Friday, Feb. 10.

Here’s a look at who filed for other council seats:

At-Large (top two from each party advance): Rebecca Thacker (incumbent), D; David Ball, D; Will Holland, D; Cal Kent, R; Gordon Ramey II, R.

District 2: Teresa Loudermilk (incumbent), D; Pete Gillespie II, D; Nolan Grubb, R; Greg Martin, R; Tom McCallister, R.

District 3: Frances Jackson (incumbent), D; Aaron-Michael Fox, D; Thomas Laishley, D.

District 4: Gary Bunn, R; Bethann Houser Earl, R.

District 7: Scott Caserta (incumbent), D; Bobby Ellis, R.

District 8: Kirk Gillenwater (incumbent), D; Tom McGuffin, D; Richard “Dick” Strode, Independent.

District 9: Rick Simmons, D; Sherry Lynn McClanahan, R; Jeanne A. Crum Wray, R.

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