CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dunbar Mayor Jack Yeager isn't running for re-election, and residents will begin to choose his replacement in the city's primary election set for Saturday.
On the Democratic side, Dunbar Public Works Director Terry Greenlee is running against former state delegate Ramona Cerra Ward for the mayor's spot.
The winner of Saturday's Democratic primary will face Republican Michael Hall in the mayor's race for the city's June 4 general election.
All three mayoral candidates are in basic agreement on Dunbar's problems: an aging population, loss of residents, deteriorating properties and businesses and a lack of programs for youth and senior citizens.
"Many of the houses are deplorable," said Ward, who bought a home on the Kanawha River in Dunbar, then decided to run for mayor because of what she saw as a deteriorating town. She has lived in Dunbar about nine months.
Ward said more needs to be done to fight crime, clean up properties and entice business owners back into Dunbar. City officials need to add more programs to help senior citizens and kids.
She said Yeager wasn't able to do much to turn the town around.
"Without a plan of action in the mayor's office, I don't see much changing," she said. "I want to change it. I know I can change it."
Greenlee, a 1967 Dunbar High School graduate and lifelong Dunbar resident, agrees with much of what Ward is saying. "I remember Dunbar in its heyday, when we had our businesses and kids roamed the streets freely and you didn't even lock your doors at night," he said.
Greenlee said he wants to revitalize Dunbar's 12th Street business district, particularly the former Ames lot near the Dunbar bridge, now vacant. "If I personally have to drive to Pennsylvania and talk to the people who own that, we need to do something," he said. "That lot's too valuable to leave empty."
Greenlee said he also wants to expand opportunities for kids and seniors and add events and recreational opportunities to draw visitors from outside Dunbar. Among his ideas are dinner cruises on the Kanawha River departing from Dunbar and opening up Wine Cellar Park for camping.
He also wants to help clean up the city, but said residents need to pitch in. "We need help from city residents, too," he said.