Dunbar to hold primary election this weekend
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.
Hall, the Republican challenger, has lived in Dunbar about eight years, and said the town is his home. "Dunbar is my adopted town, and I love it with all my heart," he said.
"I'm not a politician, that's why I'm doing this," he said. "There need to be some changes in this community.
"I have no tolerance for drug activity," he said. "None. But talking about stuff is easy. Doing something about it is different."
Hall said he will do whatever is necessary -- including bringing in outside help -- to fight drugs, clean up Dunbar and attract business. He also wants to expand opportunities for young people, and has a plan for residents to collect aluminum cans and set them aside to raise money for childrens' activities.
"A clean, well-run, efficient, drug-free community is what attracts business," he said.
Incumbent City Clerk Ross Harrison, a Republican, faces no opposition in the primary. He will face Democrat Connie Fulknier, who also has no opposition, in the general election.
Dunbar is divided into four wards, each with two council representatives. In the First Ward, Democratic incumbent Rick Fields and Pam Reynolds are on the ticket. They will face Republican Steve Arnott in June.
On the Second Ward Democratic ticket, three candidates will compete for the two available council seats. Sam Gassaway, Doug Fleishman and Dana Hayes are running. The winners will face Republican incumbent Harold Craigo in June.
In the Third Ward, Democratic incumbent Tom Bailey and Republican incumbent Connie Thompson face no opposition.
In the city's Fourth Ward, incumbent council members Gail Harper and Everette Sullivan, both Democrats, are on the ticket. They will face no Republican opposition in June.
Reach Rusty Marks at email@example.com or 304-348-1215.