Another member out in M’town

Posted: July 11, 2013

The Winchester Star

Donna M.G. Gray

MIDDLETOWN — The town council lost another member to resignation earlier this week.

Donna M.G. Gray, 49, stepped down Monday after being elected to the Middletown Town Council in 2010 to a term that runs through 2014.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Gray said that while she would have liked to finish out her term, “it’s just gotten to the point where the good old boy system is back in town and I can no longer be a part of it.

“There are times when decisions are being made before you get to the table,” Gray added. “I’m there to represent the citizens, and when I feel that there are other agendas taking precedent over that, it’s hard to be one person fighting against that.”

Council member Mary Shull resigned in May to move to her hometown of Strasburg, and Clarence “Trip” Chewning resigned earlier this month for health reasons.

Gray added that, while the town has tightened its financial belt over the past two years, she wants it to do more to restrict spending so residents don’t have to deal with tax increases.

Mayor Charles H. Harbaugh IV said Wednesday that the town could appoint interim council members to fill the positions vacated by Gray and Chewning during the council’s Aug. 12 meeting.

While it can be difficult to replace council members and keep the town moving forward, Harbaugh said he doesn’t believe the recent resignations will cast Middletown in a bad light.

In a rash of resignations on March 12, 2012, Mayor Marshall J. “Mark” Brown and council members John Blaisdell and Gilbert “Gil” Barrington resigned. In that instance, all three stepped down amid dissension on the panel.

“This isn’t the past, there’s no arguing and infighting like there was,” Harbaugh said. “People aren’t screaming at each other like they were... We have goals and things in mind we want to get done and hopefully other people can jump up and serve the remainder of the terms.”

Middletown will petition the Frederick County Circuit Court to hold a special election in conjunction with the Nov. 5 general election to fill the remainder of Gray’s term. It has already petitioned to have special elections for Chewning’s and Shull’s terms.

The council appointed Carolyn Aliff on June 10 to fill Shull’s term until the special election.

Other members of the council are Vice-Mayor John Copeland, Carole Snyder and Thomas Simon.

Anyone interested in serving on the council must live in the town limits and be at least 18 years old. Council members earn $100 monthly stipends, which are taxed.

— Contact Matt Armstrong at marmstrong@winchesterstar.com