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Former Parkersburg mayor tapped to lead city

Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Brett Dunlap Jimmy Colombo stood with his wife, Sharon, as he took the oath of office from Wood County Circuit Judge J.D. Beane to serve as Parkersburg’s mayor. Colombo won a 7-1 vote of city council to fill the term of former Mayor Robert Newell, who retired on June 3. Colombo will serve 18 months.
Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Brett Dunlap
Jimmy Colombo stood with his wife, Sharon, as he took the oath of office from Wood County Circuit Judge J.D. Beane to serve as Parkersburg’s mayor. Colombo won a 7-1 vote of city council to fill the term of former Mayor Robert Newell, who retired on June 3. Colombo will serve 18 months.

PARKERSBURG, W.VA. — Jimmy Colombo is the mayor of Parkersburg again.

Colombo was selected by Parkersburg City Council on a 7-1 vote Thursday to finish the 18 months left in the term vacated by Robert Newell. Newell, the day before a hearing was to convene for his removal from office, retired on June 3.

“I will do my part again to make this a better city, not that I have ever stopped,” Colombo said. “I will enjoy working with this council. I hope they will enjoy working with me. I will be open, transparent and do what I have to do to get things done. We are here for the people. That is what this is, a service business for the residents of Parkersburg.”

Colombo, mayor from 1998-2005, said he has no plans to run for mayor in 2016.

Council chose from three nominees from the Wood County Democratic Executive Committee. The other two were Wood County Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Burdette and Jody Murphy, the executive director of the Pleasants Area Chamber of Commerce and Pleasants County Convention and Visitors Center.

Council members Nancy Wilcox, Sharon Lynch, Roger Brown, Mike Reynolds, John Rockhold, Jim Reed and J.R. Carpenter voted for Colombo. Councilwoman Kim Coram voted for Burdette. Councilman Aaron Read was absent and a telephone link for him to participate could not be established.

After the vote, Colombo shook hands with Burdette and Murphy, who took council’s decision in stride.

“Selfishly, I am disappointed. Being mayor would have given me an excuse to buy a T-shirt cannon,” Murphy jokingly said.

Murphy congratulated Colombo and wished him well.

“As a citizen, It was good to see council rally around a mayor,” Murphy said. “I know Mayor Colombo will do his best to work with council and move the city forward. I wish him – and council – a successful 18 months.”

Burdette also wished Colombo well.

“I just wish the administration the best of luck in their future endeavors,” she said.

Shortly after the vote, Colombo was sworn into office by Wood County Circuit Judge J.D. Beane.

Colombo said he is going to start with a prayer group Monday morning and meet with as many city employees as he can in council chambers to outline his hopes and what he wants to accomplish for the city.

As for the position of the city finance director, Colombo said he is not privy to all the different aspects of the situation and needs to get up-to-speed on them before he can make any decision.

“We will have to see what we have and we will make the right decision and we will do it quickly,” he said.

Finance Director Ashley Flowers, who has admitted to having an affair with Newell, is on paid leave following her Feb. 11 arrest on two felony charges of child endangerment.

Also, the insurance company representing the city settled with five employees supervised by Flowers in the finance department who sued claiming sexual harassment and a hostile work environment because of the conversations, audios and videos of the alleged affair between Flowers and Newell.

Rockhold commended everyone who applied for the nomination.

“I hope they all will continue to add something to benefit and add value to Parkersburg, no matter how the vote goes,” he said.

Although it has appeared council was divided, council has been moving forward on a number of issues related to the growth of the city, Carpenter said.

“The only thing they were divided on were personal agendas from the previous administration,” he said. “There is no previous administration now so I am looking forward.”

Despite 5-4 or 4-4 votes, Carpenter said the notion of a “divided council” was a “marketing tool” that has no bearing on anything now. On things like rezoning, housing for seniors and other issues, the majority of council was in agreement on a number of issues.

“I would like that perception (of a divided council) to change, because it has never really been there,” Carpenter said.

He is excited now about what lies ahead.

“We want to hit the ground running, get everything rolling and we don’t want to wait 8-10 months for change,” Carpenter said. “We want to start now.”

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