Weintraub resigns from Charleston City Council
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Saying he'd accomplished most of what he'd set out to do 10 years ago, Charleston East End City Councilman Marc Weintraub resigned from the council Thursday morning.
"Please accept this letter as my resignation, effective immediately, as a member of Charleston City Council representing Charleston's 11th Ward," Weintraub wrote in a brief letter to Mayor Danny Jones. "It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve my constituents."
Jones named Mary Beth Hoover to complete Weintraub's remaining term on the council. Hoover, an interior designer at Contemporary Galleries, has been chairman of the East End Main Street program's Design Committee. The City Council must approve her appointment.
"It's a huge loss for the city because of his involvement in urban renewal and his understanding of urban issues," Jones said of Weintraub.
In a phone interview, Weintraub said he'd been thinking about resigning for a while, discussed it with his family and spoke recently with Jones.
"I had certain goals and objectives when I started," he said. "With the groundbreaking for the park Monday, I feel I've achieved most of them."
Weintraub was heavily involved with the formation of the East End Community Renewal Plan in the mid-2000s. The neighborhood park near Dixie and Nancy streets, now under construction, is a direct result of that plan.
"It's time for new leadership," Weintraub said. "I can continue, and will continue, to do work to improve our neighborhood without the title of City Council member. I think it's time for someone else to take that title and work to improve our neighborhood."
Former mayor Jay Goldman appointed Weintraub to replace Ryan Henry as 11th Ward council member in 2002. He has been re-elected to the post three times, most recently in 2011.
During his tenure on the council and as chairman of its Urban Renewal Committee, Weintraub was a strong voice for progressive issues. He is particularly proud of crafting, and then pushing through the council, a law that forbids discrimination for sexual orientation. The 2007 measure is the state's first.
"That distinguishes us from all other cities, except maybe Morgantown," Jones said.
Weintraub's work as a lawyer often took him out of town, forcing him to miss more than a few council meetings -- a fact noted by his opponent in the 2011 election.
"I've been criticized for absences a lot," Weintraub said. "I'm not interested in that anymore."
Jones said the absences didn't bother him. "You'd rather have people make the meetings than not make them, but he had a law practice that takes him out of the country a lot."
Still, the issue apparently weighed on Weintraub's mind. He talked to Jones several days ago, saying he was thinking of resigning.
"My reaction was negative. I didn't want him to resign," Jones said. "He said he was going to miss the next four meetings. I think he wanted to leave on his own terms, which is OK by me.
"It's not something you try to talk somebody out of. It's something where you want to make sure they're sure."
By Wednesday night, when they talked again at a committee meeting, Jones knew Weintraub was sure.
"Marc Weintraub has been a very effective member of City Council and a key part of the Council leadership throughout my administration," Jones said in a news release. "He has been an aggressive advocate of projects and policies to improve all of Charleston -- and especially the East End.
"When you think of the great things that have been happening on the East End, Marc Weintraub has been actively involved in every one of them," Jones said.
Jones said he chose Hoover, in part, because of her youth.
"She's young and energetic, and she's the future of that neighborhood. She's involved with East End Main Street," he said. "We need to get people involved in council under the age of 60.
"She was a little bit taken aback when I contacted her, and she was disappointed Marc is leaving. I think she'll fit right in.
"Charleston is very blessed to have a nonpartisan council. When Mary Beth runs [for re-election] a few years from now, I'll be pulling for her," Jones said. Her appointment must be approved by the City Council, which will meet Monday.
Hoover said she was surprised when Jones called. "I talked to Marc. I wanted to make sure I'm the best person for the job. I want the best for the East End."
A volunteer with East End Main Street since the group started 10 years ago, Hoover also serves as a board member.
"I'm here to serve," she said. "I'm here to learn. I respect Marc. I hope I can fill his shoes. With the volunteering I've done, this is the next step."
Reach Jim Balow at email@example.com or 304-348-5102.