PLEASANT VALLEY —Emily Haddix, a former Pleasant Valley council member who resigned her position earlier this year in order to challenge longtime Mayor Barbara Metcalfe, has defeated the incumbent and will be sworn in as mayor next Wednesday.
Haddix defeated Metcalfe 217 votes to 156.
“Obviously, this is what I was hoping for. I was hoping to reach as many of our residents as I could to support the kind of change and progress I’m looking to make,” said Haddix.
Haddix said the Pleasant Valley election featured the highest voter turnout in the history of the city with over 20% of registered voters participating.
“We had double the number of voters in this election than we’ve ever had,” she said.
Haddix, 31, credits a city Facebook page she launched two years ago, titled “Pleasant Valley WV Community,” as a key to her victory.
“I think it’s about the residents feeling heard for the first time,” she said. “I’d attribute the win to the social media page. I started it for the residents to have a voice. It turned into this amazing place for residents to voice their concerns.”
Haddix contends the former mayor did not listen to the voters.
“They kept getting stopped when they’d go to the city building and try to speak with the mayor. They would kind of hit a brick wall when they walked in the door,” said she. “For the residents to know they have a voice through me seemed to be important.”
Mayor Metcalfe also said the Facebook page played a key role in her loss to Haddix.
“It was a social media campaign. She did a manifesto of what she was going to do for them and most of it wasn’t true. I’ll just go with this one: She took credit for a blanket permit from the state roads department to work on the state roads in our city. She had nothing to do with that. Nothing,” Metcalfe said. “I was the one who signed the blanket permit.”
Metcalfe said the election’s result was not entirely surprising.
“I could feel the vibrations,” Metcalfe said. “This campaign on social media started when she left office and that’s fine if all the details are right. But when details don’t match up with actual service, there’s something wrong.”
Metcalfe plans to remain involved in community service organizations, but said “while you never say never,” she doesn’t plan to run for elective office again.
“I hate to say my age, but I’m in my late 70s. I’ve served many, many terms. But I don’t take the job home anymore and that’s a relief,” she said.
Haddix ran on a platform to fix Pleasant Valley’s roads, potholes, and drainage issues and said she will produce a comprehensive, staged plan in order to implement her vision.
“We need to create a plan that we can accomplish yearly. We need to get to the point where we’re at the maintenance stage of road repair rather than continuously putting on Band-Aids,” Haddix said.
Haddix will serve a two-year term until she faces reelection. She was laid-off from her position as a cardiac monitor technician when Fairmont Regional Medical Center closed. She is currently taking college classes in cybersecurity.
Haddix’s win prompted the resignations of two Pleasant Valley office workers, City Clerk Pam Foster and Office Assistant Joyce Biddle, each of whom resigned the day after the vote.
Both Foster and Biddle said their resignations were directly linked to Haddix’s win at the polls.
“I can’t work with Emily and I can’t work with Erin Henderson, who also won a seat. They’re very angry, very negative people. It won’t work for me. I would hate to go to work every day,” said Foster, who has served as city clerk for the past five years.
“I’ve also observed the negativity and disruption. It just can’t be,” said Biddle, who has worked in city hall for the past six years.
Haddix countered those contentions.
“During my last term on council, it was as if you were in a high school clique,” Haddix said. “I felt it was an abuse of power and neglect of the residents. Nothing they were trying to do was for the residents. Our residents deserved better representation.”
Haddix said the resignation of Foster and Biddle were not surprising.
“When I heard they had resigned, I’d kind of expected it,” Haddix said. “I feel like the threat of transparency was too much for them.”
The mayor-elect said she will work to fully inform Pleasant Valley residents of the goings-on at city hall.
“I will be transparent with the residents. I will let them know what we’re spending funds on. I’ll give them minutes of our meetings. I’m not going to make them file Freedom of Information Act [requests] to get the information they want. It was roadblock after roadblock after roadblock. You should not have to go to extremes to have transparency. We’re a public office,” Haddix said.
Metcalfe is one of the founders of the City of Pleasant Valley and has been active in its government since it was created in 1995. She served on the first-ever city council and has been mayor for the past dozen years.
Other election results included Pleasant Valley incumbent councilman Ed Aberegg narrowly defeating challenger Dixie Sorenson by a 164-160 margin.
For the Kingmont seat, Henderson defeated write-in candidate Dylan Yanero by a wide margin, 227-66.
Council members Gary Timms of Millersville/Pleasant Valley and Chuck Ledsome of Benton’s Ferry ran for reelection unopposed.
The original date for Pleasant Valley’s 2020 election day had been set for June 9, but Secretary of State Mac Warner had rescheduled West Virginia’s coronavirus-postponed statewide primary election for that day. Pleasant Valley’s city election was subsequently bumped to July 28.