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Martinsburg mayor wins fifth term

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Mayor George Karos and five councilmen were re-elected in Martinsburg’s municipal election Tuesday.

In addition, two new members of the City Council were voted into office.

In the race for the mayor’s seat, Karos was challenged by current Ward 4 City Council member H.D. Boyd. Karos won with a total of 851 votes, or 61 percent of the vote. Boyd received 538 votes, or 39 percent of the vote.

Though Karos has been mayor since he was elected to his first term in 2000, he said he learned never to count an election as a sure thing.

“I’m never too confident,” the mayor said. “I learned a long time ago you run unopposed or you run scared, and I ran scared.”

His priorities for the city include a drug treatment facility, economic development and public works projects.

In Ward 3, incumbent Ken Collinson, who was appointed to the city council in January 2015, ran against James Jordan. Collinson was re-elected with 315 votes, or 72 percent of the vote. Jordan received 123 votes.

With Boyd seeking the mayor’s position, the city council seat for Ward 4 was up for grabs. Mark Baker won the seat with 157 votes, or 43 percent of the vote. Doug Reid came in second with 108 votes (30 percent), ahead of Lewis’ 96 votes (27 percent).

Baker said he was pleasantly surprised to win the Ward 4 seat.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “You work day in and day out and some days you think you’re going backwards instead of forwards. I had a lot of support from my family.”

Baker said he wants to focus on many improvements to the city and Ward 4, including combating heroin addiction, economic development of the city, and individual constituents’ concerns, like fixing potholes.

Of the six candidates running for city council at-large, Harriet Johnson and incumbent Gregg Wachtel were elected. Johnson received 741 votes (30 percent), while Wachtel received 698 votes (29 percent).

“I worked hard for months. I walked the city, I talked to the people in Martinsburg and I heard what they wanted,” Johnson said. “The citizens of Martinsburg have spoken.”

Johnson said she wants to see Martinsburg work on an economic development plan for the city, including the appointment of an economic development director, and making the downtown area more inviting.

Wachtel said he wished more people showed up to the polls, but said he was pleased to learn he won.

“I want to thank the voters for their renewed confidence in me,” he said. “In the next four years, I will try as hard as I can to do the best that I can.”

Incumbent council members in Ward 1, Ward 2 and Ward 5 retained their seats on the council, as they ran unopposed.

Dennis Etherington will continue to represent Ward 1 on the City Council, Kevin Knowles will continue to represent Ward 2, and Jason Baker will continue to represent Ward 5.

When polls closed for early voting at 5 p.m. on Saturday, 572 voters had cast their ballots, up from the early voting total of 400 voters for the city’s municipal election in 2012.

City recorder Gena Long said a total of 611 early and absentee ballots were cast in the election, and 808 people voted on Tuesday.

More than 1,400 of the city’s 12,717 registered voters voted in the election.

The mayor and city council members will be sworn in on July 1. The final meeting of the current city council will be June 30.

Terms end June 30, 2020, barring unforeseen circumstances.

Staff writer Mary Stortstrom can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 138, or www.twitter.com/mstortstromJN.

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