The Times West Virginian

Opinion

July 6, 2014

Strong field of Fairmont’s best needed to run for city council

Being a member of Fairmont City Council is not an easy job.

It requires a strong commitment of time and energy.

You’ll be approached by many of your fellow citizens wanting answers, and you will not always be able to give them a response they want to hear.

You may come in with the highest of objectives and not be able to accomplish everything you want as quickly as you would like.

Nevertheless, it’s a position of leadership in a city taking positive strides, and there are an unusual number of openings this year — seven.

We’d like to see a strong field of people file during the period that ends Aug. 6.

While no filings had been received as of the middle of last week, Janet Keller, Fairmont city clerk, said several residents had called expressing interest.

“I think this is the first time in the 24 years I’ve been the clerk that we’ve had this many council seats open on the ballot,” Keller said.

The city council election will be held in conjunction with the general election Nov. 4. Seats are up for election in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th districts.

Indeed, it’s an unusual year. Ordinarily, only half the seats on city council are up at one time. Council members serve staggered four-year terms. However, due to the resignation of Travis Blosser from the 2nd District seat in April and the recent resignation of Robert Garcia from the 7th District seat, those seats will be up for election as well. The 2nd and 7th District seats are for two-year terms, while the remaining seats are for four-year terms.

The city appointed Frank Yann to the 2nd District seat in May.

The city is currently taking applications for the 7th District seat and will be accepting resumes and letters of interest at Keller’s office on the third floor of the J. Harper Meredith Building through noon Wednesday, July 16, and council will convene July 22 to interview and appoint a successful candidate.

Now, looking toward November, three current council members won’t be able to file for re-election this year. The city council positions have a term limit, limiting council members to serving two consecutive, full four-year terms.

Debbie Seifrit for the 3rd District, Chuck Warner for the 5th District and Robin Smith for the 8th District cannot file for re-election.

Both appointed council members, Yann and the person selected to take the seat held by Garcia, will hold their seats until the end of the canvass after the Nov. 4 election. The members holding the other council seats up for election will remain on council through the end of 2014.

For those who make the decision to run, the process is straightforward. Candidates for the seven nonpartisan seats must live in and be registered to vote in the city district they want to represent. If elected, during their term of office the council members must reside within their district.

Residents interested in filing for candidacy should come in person to the city clerk’s office on the third floor of the J. Harper Meredith Building. Keller will confirm their voter’s registration for the district in which they are filing to run. They must also pay a $15 registration fee.

“Then I have a packet of information for them once they come in to file with their announcement of candidacy for them to fill out, how they want their name to appear on the ballot, and all of the financial forms they will need for their campaign,” Keller said.

Keller can be contacted at 304-366-6211, ext. 329, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Service on Fairmont City Council brings many challenges along with the rewards generated by doing your best for the city’s residents.

We encourage Fairmont’s best to step forward.

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