HUNTINGTON — One of seven residents could join the Huntington City Council later this week.
Candidates filed applications to represent District 4 on the council. Current council members will interview the candidates on Thursday and are expected to choose one of the applicants to join the body.
Last month, former Councilwoman Jennifer Wheeler resigned from the position, as she moved to a residence outside of the district. The area includes the Southside, South Hills and Harveytown neighborhoods.
To fill the vacancy, the remaining city council members may appoint a replacement to serve the remainder of Wheeler’s term, which ends on Dec. 31, 2024. The City Clerk’s office accepted applications until Tuesday of last week.
Connie Reed Beaty
Connie Reed Beaty is the current president of the Southside Neighborhood Association.
Beaty said she has previously served on the board of the neighborhood association and has completed a lot of volunteer work in the Southside.
Beaty said she submitted her application because she believes she is qualified for the position and wants to help residents get things done. Some issues she would like to address while in the office are property crime and graffiti. Beaty said that she is a “push-the-envelope kind of person” and often tries to help residents find solutions to their issues.
“I do whatever it takes. I try to be the best example by being active and being proactive,” she said.
She worked for the YMCA for 20 years and across five states and has experience working with nonprofit and government organizations. She has not previously held public office.
Since she was in college, Bethany Felinton has lived in the Southside neighborhood. She has a career in social work and is the mother of three. She is the wife of former Huntington Mayor David Felinton.
Felinton said she has volunteered in the past several years with her children’s sports groups and wanted to further give back to the city and the neighborhood by applying to join the city council. She said Huntington has been a great place to raise her family and she wants to give her children and other children in Huntington the same opportunities she experienced.
“I wanted to be part of giving back and helping out in the community and making it a great place,” Felinton said.
If selected, Felinton said she would like to continue building off the foundation that Wheeler left, such as listening to residents’ needs and concerns to make Huntington a safe place to live. She said she will work hard and dedicate time to the position.
She is currently a board member for the First Stage Theatre and was previously a Cabell County Democratic Women’s Club member. She also teaches social work classes at Marshall University. She has not previously held public office.
As a child, Arlene Ferguson moved to Huntington with her family. Since then, she had a 40-year career at Marshall University as a police officer and in the Bursar’s Office as an accountant. Now, she wants to give back to the community.
Ferguson is the wife of Magistrate Dan Ferguson and has one daughter who lives in Huntington. Ferguson said that she has had a great experience living in Huntington and wants to make sure others have similar opportunities.
“I thought maybe this was a chance for me to get more involved and that maybe I could be the voice for people who didn’t believe that their voices were being heard and taken seriously,” she said.
She has not held a public office before, but she was on the staff council at Marshall. She added that she has experience volunteering with community events, such as Summerfest and Huntington Classic Boat Races. She said she has also volunteered with the Huntington Outdoor Theatre to sell concessions and was part of a group that painted the bridge at 5th Street West and North Boulevard.
Ferguson said she believes she can commit a lot of time to be a council member as she is retired and has a part-time job at Macy’s. She said she sees the position as a liaison between residents and the city government.
Current Planning Commissioner Gerry Holley said he applied to represent District 4 on the city council to give back.
He’s served in his current role since 2015. Before he lived in the Southside, he grew up in the West End. He now works with Lendmark Financial Services in South Charleston and has prior experience in mortgages. Holley has volunteered with Little League for about 25 years. He has not held an elected office before.
“I will listen,” Holley said. “I will always have my phone on if somebody needs something and they want to call me, I will be available.”
If selected, Holley said he would want to be part of the city’s initiative to increase broadband access within the city. Within the Southside, he would like to focus on the maintenance of streets and alleys for residents. Holley said the neighborhood has a community that is willing to work together and with the city government to solve issues.
When Jim Rorrer moved back to Huntington six years ago after living in Richmond, Virginia, he knew he wanted to be involved with the city, he said.
Now, he’s the vice president of the Water Quality Board and serves on the Huntington Municipal Development Authority. He also serves on boards for the Marshall University Foundation, Big Green Scholarship Foundation, the Brad D. Smith Schoos of Business Advisory Board and the Woodlands Retirement Center.
“I thought it was one more serious way to get involved primarily for the betterment of Huntington — for the betterment of District 4 and the city itself and all that that involves,” Rorrer said of why he decided to apply for the council vacancy. He said he would use his experience, background and commitment to make decisions in the best interest of District 4 and Huntington residents.
He has retired from a career in investments with an emphasis on municipal finance, with included city and county bond projects. Before moving to Richmond, he worked with First Huntington National Bank. He has not previously held an elected office.
If selected, he wants to continue to support infrastructure work that the Water Quality Board has done, such as the flood prevention projects in the underpasses at 8th and 10th Street. He also noted that economic development will be important to Huntington, especially with the developments proposed at the ACF Industries property in Highlawn.
Since 2010, Sarah Walling has been a resident of Huntington. She lives in the Southside and works downtown as a partner with the law firm Jenkins and Fenstermaker.
Walling said that she decided to apply for the position as she is friends with Wheeler and admired her accomplishments.
“I think she did excellent things for the Southside and for Huntington when she was on council and I would like to see the forward momentum continue that I’ve observed over the last few years,” Walling said.
Walling has served on the Huntington Planning Commission for about two years. She has not been previously elected to a public office.
As Walling’s firm has represented the city and Cabell County in legal matters, she said that experience has given her some insight as to how the local government functions. She also served on boards for a few local community organizations, such as Little Victories Animal Rescue and CONTACT. She is president of the board of Facing Hunger Foodbank and the Ronald McDonald House.
Walling said continued economic growth and development is an important issue that she would like to focus on if selected to join the city council. She said the need for jobs in Huntington is the root of many issues in Huntington. As a Southside property owner, she said she is also very aware of the issues that property owners in that neighborhood face, such as derelict properties.
C.A. Adams also applied for the position but did not respond to a request for comment by press time. This story may be updated on www.herald-dispatch.com with the candidate's response at a later time.