Meet the Elkins City Council Candidates Elkinite March 5, 2017 Here at Elkinite we fundamentally believe that civic engagement is a hallmark of strong community. To that end we feel strongly that access to information about local elections is key to encouraging everyone to participate. We are not here to endorse candidates, but rather to provide voters with as much information as possible about those seeking to be leaders in the community. We asked all Elkins City Council candidates to answer the following four questions. Why did you decide to run for city council? What distinguishes you from the other candidates? If elected what actionable issue will be your priority? What do you love about the City of Elkins? Here are their responses along with biographical information provided by the candidates if available. We did not receive responses to the questions from Rhett Dusenbury, Charles H. Friddle, III, Carman Metheny, Jeanie Weese, and Howard Knapp Jr. We also encourage voters to check out this video of the Generation Randolph City Council Debate held in February. Finally, we implore citizens of Elkins to vote in the municipal election whether your ward is contested or not. It is important for us to come together and celebrate the democratic principles that are the core of our society. We are encouraged that so many people have decided to step forward and provide leadership in the community. The pride and love that each of these candidates has for the City of Elkins should serve as an example to all citizens. More information on voting please visit the City of Elkins website. First Ward Rhett Dusenbury (incumbent) Biography Rhett was born and raised in Florence, South Carolina. He graduated with a B.S in Political Science from Francis Marion College. He is married to Cristin Carpenter of Belington. He previously worked as a realtor in Moorseville, North Carolina until relocation to West Virginia in June 2014 to assist with family. He served as Commissioner at Large for the Moorseville Town Commission from 2009 to 2013. He lived he Barbour County before moving to Elkins in February 2015. He was appointed to the Elkins City Council in June 2015. He is currently employed Mark D. Scott & Associates –Allstate Insurance Company as an agent. Robert Chenoweth (challenger) Biography Mr. Chenoweth is a lifelong resident of Elkins. After being educated in the Randolph County school system, Mr. Chenoweth obtained both an undergraduate degree and a law degree from WVU. After law school, Mr. Chenoweth returned to Elkins to live and work. Mr. Chenoweth is a practicing lawyer and partner at the law firm of Busch, Zurbuch & Thompson, located in Elkins. Mr. Chenoweth practices in the area of general civil litigation, and personally counsels several area businesses. Mr. Chenoweth, and his firm currently provides general counsel to several local municipalities. Mr. Chenoweth was formally the attorney for the City of Elkins. Over the course of representation of cities and towns, Mr. Chenoweth has acquired a good knowledge of the State Code as it pertains to municipalities, and has drafted countless ordinances and resolutions. When he is not working, Mr. Chenoweth enjoys spending time with his wife Misty, and their 4 children and two dogs, whom all reside in Bridgewater Estates. 1. Why did you decide to run for city council? Continued revitalization of Elkins’ downtown and the promotion of economic development. I will seek to promote and facilitate the best uses of downtown space to encourage the development of downtown as a place to visit, shop, open a business and live. Elkins is currently developing a reputation as a music destination city, which we should seek to promote. This will involve working with local community groups to make Elkins an aesthetically pleasing place to visit and live, and also coordinating with local businesses to ensure that Elkins has a business friendly environment, free of unnecessary regulation, to promote growth for generations to come. 2. What distinguishes you from other candidates? Experience and knowledge of city government. I am a practicing attorney that actively represents local municipalities. I have experience in researching local government law and drafting municipal legislation. My experience in counseling municipalities, including the City of Elkins, over the years will serve as a great asset in the formulation of ideas to move the City forward. 3. If elected what actionable issue will be your priority? Drug abuse, and crime related to drug abuse, are the area’s greatest problem. I would seek to learn of opportunities to work with county, state and other local officials to curtail the drug problem. It will not be quick, or easy, but is necessary. A large part of the drug abuse epidemic is the lack of opportunity which I hope to address with other council members in a coordinated effort to grow economic development. In order to protect its citizens, police presence in the community needs to increase in form of using existing officers in the most efficient manner, while hiring other officers within the constraints of the City’s budget. Concurrently, I believe that the future of Elkins needs to grow in an environmentally sustainable fashion. Therefore, I would seek to promote the implementation of a recycling program to ease the burden on the City’s waste management, both current and future. 4. What do you love about the City of Elkins? The fact that my family has lived here for generations, and we continue to call it home. Elkins has a lot to offer, which is why my wife, 4 children, and I have chosen to make it home. I feel a commitment to do my part to insure that Elkins thrives economically, recreationally, and in a manner that promotes green living, to insure that my young family and future generations are able to live, work and enjoy Elkins for generations to come. Joyce Johns (challenger) Biography Joyce John recently retired from Randolph County after more than 27 years service. 21 years were in the sheriff’s office as chief tax deputy and bookkeeper and the last 6 years as Randolph County Commissioner. I have lived in the 1st Ward area for 38 years and have three children and two grandchildren. I was dedicated to serving the people of Randolph County and I will be just as dedicated to serving the people of Elkins. 1. Why did you decide to run for city council? I decided to run for city council because I enjoyed working for the citizens of Randolph County for the past 27 years in the Sheriff’s Office and the County Commission and I wanted to continue that work for the citizens of Elkins. 2. What distinguishes you from other candidates? I would bring to the council my experience as Randolph County Commissioner as well as my financial experience having worked 17 years as the county bookkeeper, preparing and balancing the budget as well as monthly and yearly financial reports. 3. If elected what actionable issue will be your priority? If elected my priority first and foremost would be safety, the drugs and crime as you know are out of control. Numerous people have voiced their concerns, they are afraid to walk the streets of the city or to allow their children to play outside. In order to accomplish this we would need to find a way to increase our revenue to the city in order to increase our law enforcement, so that we could get our city back to the way it used to be and people would not have to live in fear. 4. What do you love about the City of Elkins? I love the history and the friendliness of our town. As I have traveled over the different areas of West Virginia, I have heard many compliments about the City of Elkins. Elkins is my home, I have lived here for 38 years and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Merllene Yorkey (challenger) 1. Why did you decide to run for city council? I have been involved in many facets of the Elkins community for over 20 years and becoming a more involved part of city government just seemed the logical next step for me. I just finished a four (4) year term on the Elkins Zoning Board of Appeals at the end of December and currently am not eligible to be reappointed as long as I’m a candidate or sitting city council member. I’ve been active in the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, United Way and the Elkins Rotary Club for more than 18 years and have held all officer positions in one or more of these clubs at various times and in some cases at the same time. Elkins needs strong leaders who will make the tough decisions that have to be made. As a business owner in Elkins I make these decisions on a daily basis. I know what it’s like to run a business, have employees and to live within a budget. 2. What distinguishes you from other candidates? I have the business acumen necessary to assist with running city government; I can and will be an asset to our city government. I have held the positions of President as well as Secretary and Treasurer with three non-profit organizations at the same time while running my business simultaneously. All three non-profit organizations have audited financials and tax returns annually and have come back with clean records. My record of community service to Elkins as well as my business knowledge have been proven already and make me more than qualified for this position. 3. If elected what actionable issue will be your priority? If elected I want to assist our law enforcement department and community to regain the trust of our people in and around Elkins. Our law enforcement officers deserve our utmost respect for the job that they do. They go into their job willing to risk their lives for us at any given moment. Our community is now divided and I want to be a contributing factor of reuniting this community! 4. What do you love about the City of Elkins? After 30 years in the Elkins community I still love this town!! I love the people! I love the quaintness! This is where I chose to live! Second Ward Charles H. Friddle, III (incumbent) Biography Charlie is a native of Petersburg, WV. He graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in Business Administration in 1974. He worked in the Economic Development Department of Monongahela Power. After the merger with FirstEnergy, Charlie was named Director of External Affairs for West Virginia. He is past president of the West Virginia Economic Development Council, the Randolph County Development Authority and the Elkins/Randolph County Chamber of Commerce. In 1995, he was named Economic Developer of the Year by the West Virginia Economic Development Council and has been recognized as a Distinguished Silver Beaver by the Allohak Council, Boy Scouts of America. He is a graduate of the 1998 Class of Leadership WV. In 2015 he was recognized by the Elkins/Randolph Chamber of Commerce with the Tom Williams, Award of Distinction and by the Mountaineer Chapter of the Izaak Walton League with the Judge John Tobin Award for his work with the League. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of the Randolph County Community Arts Center, 2nd VP of the Randolph County Development Authority, Advisory Board of the Allohak Council, Boy Scouts of America, and currently is Pack Committee Chair of Pack 88, he is on the Finance Committee for the First United Methodist Church and is the Membership Director of the Izaak Walton League. He resides in Elkins with his wife of 42 years, Penny and has two grown children, Chip and Kate and two grandsons and a granddaughter. Third Ward Carman Metheny (incumbent) No information has been received from the candidate. However, Carman did participate in the Generation Randolph City Council Debate and his responses can be heard in the video of the event. Fourth Ward Marly Hazen (unopposed) Biography Marly Hazen is running to represent our 4th Ward. With two degrees in history and a master’s thesis on an Appalachian mine wars community, she cares deeply about West Virginia culture and history. With career experience as a marketing professional, Marly is dedicated to promoting Elkins to bring in new residents through artistic, cultural, and environmental efforts. She is an active citizen, volunteering to help build a sense of community and welcoming through leadership in Generation Randolph and Fairness Elkins. Marly hopes to earn your vote so she can listen to your concerns and work together to develop creative ideas to help Elkins grow as a community. 1. Why did you decide to run for city council? I want to bring a listening ear and new perspectives to City Council. 2. What distinguishes you from other candidates? As a Millennial Elkinite by choice, I can provide new perspectives of how to adapt and bring in new people while embracing our unique cultural and environmental heritage. 3. If elected what actionable issue will be your priority? To build a healthy community, we have to consider our long-term strategy. Tourism is not enough to sustain us; we have to bring in and retain more young people to support our community. Together, we can: 1) work on practical matters such as affordable housing and entrepreneurship opportunities; 2) cultivate arts, cultural, and environmental initiatives; 3) improve accessibility to our unique resources; and 4) welcome new people and ideas. 4. What do you love about the City of Elkins? I fell in love with West Virginia while taking graduate courses at WVU. But when I decided to move back, I looked all over the Mountain State. I choose Elkins because it’s full of moxie. We’ve truly got it all: authentic music and dance culture, a love of historic and environmental preservation, and kind, enthusiastic people. Fifth Ward David C. Parker (incumbent) Biography Since returning to West Virginia in 1997 Dave has been deeply involved in community and economic development work and the arts. His work has included redevelopment of the rail yard, the Delmonte building, the Arts Center, Darden House and other initiatives. He currently serves on the Personnel, Public Safety, and Revenue committees of Council. He is committed to continuing the revitalization of Elkins so that it is the best possible city for those of us who are here, for those who come as visitors, and for those who choose to move here because Elkins is a uniquely attractive and vigorous city. Toward that end he is working with business owners and residents to best understand and address their needs and collective vision. He believes that the future of downtown is the future of Elkins. 1. Why did you decide to run for city council? Why did I run? First, because I believe Elkins is at a very important moment in its life. For this moment to become the reality of of a vibrant future for Elkins, we have to seize every opportunity and develop it to its fullest. I relish that challenge. Second, during the time I’ve served on council, a number of significant challenges and opportunities have presented themselves. I would like to pursue that work to completion. It is important work, we are seeing real success, and I strongly believe that continuity is critical to continuing success with several of these undertakings. Thirdly, I have invested a good part of my life in the development/redevelopment of Elkins. It is my home and I am passionate about the work we have before us. In the March 3rd edition of the InterMountain, a letter supporting my candidacy and that of Rob Chenoweth, from a downtown business owner, actually sets out rather admirably a number of the reasons why I have a deep commitment to the work of Council. 2. What distinguishes you from other candidates? What distinguishes me from the other candidates is that I have a track record of successful work/projects on behalf of the city of Elkins, both on council and off. That work has benefited people of all ages. I have run organizations with multi-million dollar budgets and organizations with tiny budgets. I understand the challenges of cost control, cash flow, employee management and customer service. I also know how to value and participate in successful teamwork to accomplish worthwhile goals. There seem to be some people who believe that being over 35 is now a disqualification for serving on council; I’ll leave it to the voters to decide whether my age, experience and track record of successful public service is an asset or liability. 3. If elected what actionable issue will be your priority? Residents have stated that their number one concern is crime and nuisance/distressed properties. Because no other issues directly affect the vitality and viability of Elkins like distressed properties and crime, much of it drug related, those will continue to be my twin priorities for the foreseeable future. We are seeing a sharp increase in the number of firearms being found in the possession of persons involved in illegal activity. That is an inevitable dimension of the problem. If we fail to handle these issues successfully they will eat the heart out of the city – which is to say the 5th Ward. These issues must be handled together, in tandem, since they have been demonstrated to be joined at the hip. None of this minimizes my commitment to the arts, recreational development and economic development. Rather, tackling the tough issues makes it possible for these other opportunities to develop as we would like. Tackling the tough issues protects property values and business investments people are making in our city. The clear goal is to create the conditions necessary for the next generations of entrepreneurs to be able to flourish in Elkins. 4. What do you love about the City of Elkins? What I love about Elkins is first and foremost the people. We are surrounded by neighbors and friends who together constitute a wonderful and diverse community that we call home. We are surrounded by the beauty of the land; we have a beautiful and accessible park system for a city our size; we have the rail trail; we have a rich cultural life, again for a city of our size, that combines so many elements and dimensions of music, the visual arts and performing arts. It’s really quite unique and I cherish all of this. Robert L. Chewning Jr. (challenger) Biography Robert L. Chewing Jr. is an entrepreneur, local business owner, veteran, family man, professional diver, employee of the drilling industry, and seeker of strategic and fair change. Born in Dailey, later moving to Barbour County, Robert is a graduate of the class of 1991 of Philip Barbour High School, and served in the United States Marine Corps. After completing his military service, Robert attended the Los Angeles Harbor Community College and The College of Oceaneering in San Pedro, California and then held various positions and earned multiple professional certifications for various positions in the drilling & maritime industry. Mr. Chewning is bilingual and has traveled extensively, and lived abroad in Thailand for several years. His international experience has given him a multi-cultural perspective and allowed him to personally experience the dynamics of society and the restrictions and interplay of that society as it plays a role in the opportunity and the right to lead a better quality of life for all individuals. This experience became one of the driving forces and a call to action for contributing to the development of the community. Robert returned to Randolph County in 2009 to raise his family in the area that he grew up in and loved. An area that still has hometown principals. An area filled with hard working people that hold the values of family and country and the desire and drive to succeed. Robert understands the balance of being conducive to change while protecting these values in the pursuit of the goal of supporting all individuals and their right for the opportunity of success. 1. Why did you decide to run for city council? I want to create both trust and transparency between the city and the community so that everyone knows we are working in the interest of the community. 2. What distinguishes you from other candidates? I invested in my future by purchasing a home here for my family and opening a small needed business because I am passionate about helping Elkins growth while balancing the importance of issues based on feedback I receive from the community 3. If elected what actionable issue will be your priority? Transparency between our community & local government, along with growing Elkins towards a prosperous future. 4. What do you love about the City of Elkins? I was born here, love the beauty & location and believe Elkins has a beautiful future. Howard Knapp Jr. (challenger) Biography Howard Knapp Jr. a father of 3 girls; Kymberly, Stephanie, and Christina and husband to Beautiful wife Ladonna, is also a veteran of both the Army National Guards and Navy Reserves. He is an Ordained Minister with the Universal Life Church Monastery in California, and graduated from International Academy of Design and Technology with an Associate in Business Science specialized in Computer Information Management. He has sat on the Board of the North Central West Virginia Community Action Association as Parliamentarian in Fairmont, WV for the Head Start Program for 2 years in 2003 and 2004. While in the military he served with clean-up crews for hurricane torn cities in North Carolina. Howard is proud member of the Honor Guard for the American Legion in Elkins, WV. In 2004 Howard helped on the Kerry/Edwards Campaign in the Democratic Headquarters in Fairmont, WV. Cody H. Thompson (challenger) Biography I was born in Elkins and grew up near Bowden. My mother’s family has lived in 5th ward since the 1960s and I spent every Sunday as a child at my grandparents’ for dinners with my large extended family. I graduated from Harman High School in 2005, then graduated from Marshall University with a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Social Studies Education in 2010. I’m currently completing a Master’s degree from West Virginia University in Multi-Categorical Special Education. I’ve taught for Randolph County Schools for the past 5 years, and genuinely love teaching civics/government to my students. I also work for Upward Bound, a TRIO program at Davis and Elkins College that provides opportunities for participants to succeed in their pre-college performance and ultimately in their higher education pursuits. I’m an avid animal lover and supporter of the Randolph County Humane Society. I am an outdoor recreation enthusiast and enjoy hiking, camping, snowboarding, and kayaking. I’m passionate about history, especially at the state and local level. Researching and studying politics and demographics are also some of my interests. 1. Why did you decide to run for city council? I chose to run for city council because I want the best for Elkins. I take much pride in my hometown, but I have become frustrated with how our city is being managed. I feel we can do a lot better, and our residents deserve the best. While I believe most of our council members and mayor want the best for Elkins as well, I feel that my determination, perseverance, and youthful perspective will be invaluable to city council. I have spent the better part of my 30 years in or around Elkins and while I love living in Elkins, I know we can improve. I believe the job of any publicly elected official is to serve their constituents, and I want to be that voice for 5th Ward Elkins residents. I’m also very grateful for the recent surprise endorsement I received from the Elkins Inter-Mountain, which stated they believe I am the best candidate for 5th Ward. 2. What distinguishes you from the other candidates? As a teacher for Randolph County Schools for the past 5 years I have mastered the art of multi-tasking. A city council-person needs to actively work on many different issues affecting the city and residents, not solely focusing on one. Prior to starting my career in education I was the manager of a clothing store in Mesa, AZ, with sales exceeding 2 million dollars, and a staff of 15. There I learned the importance of team-building by hiring the best and training them to be successful in retail. I feel the biggest thing that sets me apart from the other candidates is my perseverance—I will not stop until the job is done, and done correctly. I will work hard for Elkins, and you can count on me to fight until the job is done right. 3. If elected what actionable issue will be your priority? I have walked 5th Ward and talked to many residents. They, like myself, want to see something done about the drug problem and derelict homes and buildings. I fail to see any work that has been done to address the dilapidated homes and buildings that plague our city. They continue to be eyesores, fire hazards, and crime incubators. I will not sit by while these houses drag our property values down, and I will be proactive in getting them torn down or sold to first time home buyers or investors if they can be salvaged. To address the drug problem, we absolutely must better staff and train our police department. We can lock individuals with drug charges up and push them through the court system with fines that will never be paid, or we can be proactive and actively work to rehabilitate these repeat offenders once they’ve served their time. Our police department is overworked and understaffed; I’d like to increase the number of officers we have as well as organize neighborhood watches. Once these pressing issues are taken care of, my priority for Elkins is growth. We need to incentivize Elkins for businesses, and strive to make it a more accepting place for diversity. We need to help businesses in their first years of operation, as this is the most difficult time to keep local business afloat. If we can help them to invest back into their business, they have a better chance of being successful and continuing to pay into city taxes, thus investing in our city. What do you love about the City of Elkins? I love living in a community with genuine, friendly, and kind people while being surrounded by the greenery of our beautiful West Virginia mountains. If nothing more comes out of this election than me meeting some of the amazing residents and business owners that I have, I will consider it a win in my book. My roots and blood are here. No matter where I’ve went or where I will go, I will always call Elkins my home. Jeanie Weese (challenger) No information has been received from the candidate. Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.