Councilor wants to stay a little longer

Posted: April 26, 2014

The Winchester Star

Milt McInturff

WINCHESTER — Two years ago, Milt McInturff thought he would be preparing to step away from the City Council about now and planning a move to South Carolina.

Plans, however, have a way of changing.

McInturff said on Friday that he will remain in Winchester for the foreseeable future and will ask Third Ward voters to retain him as their representative through 2018 in the Nov. 4 general election.

The 63-year-old council vice president said he fully intended to follow through with his exit strategy two years ago, but family responsibilities require him and his wife Shirley to stay in the city.

Since his latitude will be the same, McInturff said he wants to continue being a part of the council.

“We’ve got a really good group of people on council right now,” he said, “and we’ve really done a lot to point the city in the right direction for the future. But there are still some things on our to-do list that I’d like to see come to fruition.”

Among those projects are the National Avenue gateway and Millwood Avenue street projects, the redevelopment of properties in the North End and the potential construction of an event center.

He also thinks the extension of Meadow Branch Avenue could spark considerable development along its route. That project is being forced to completion by the council’s decision to build a new John Kerr Elementary School off the street.

“If we would’ve started that five years ago,” he said, “that would be a different area in Winchester. We’d talked about it enough, and it needed to be moved forward not necessarily because of the school — though that helps the desire to get started — but because it’s going to be economically beneficial to the city.”

McInturff is the first person on the council to formally announce his intentions for the fall.

The terms of Jeffrey Buettner (First Ward), Evan Clark (Second Ward) and John Tagnesi (Fourth Ward) are also ending, and a special election will be held for the final two years of the term vacated by Ben Weber this month.

McInturff said he intends to run “a low-key campaign” and likely will not suffer for it. He ran unopposed in 2008 and 2012, and of the five people who have sought election to a Third Ward council seat since 2006, he is the only one who still lives in the ward.

Carroll “Beau” Correll Jr., chairman of the Winchester Republican Committee, embraced McInturff’s decision to run again.

“The Winchester Republican Party welcomes new and, in the case of Mr. McInturff, experienced public servants that aspire to serve citizens through City Council ...,” he said. “It’s good to know Mr. McInturff is interested in serving more on City Council, and I would hope that people consider his goals that he wishes to accomplish for another term.”

A 1971 Handley High School graduate, McInturff has lived in Winchester since 1961.

He thinks the city’s special events program could start generating revenue in a couple of years, and noted that some downtown businesses that have altered their hours to be open during the events are being rewarded with increased sales.

The Patsy Cline celebration planned for Labor Day weekend 2015 could be huge for the city, McInturff said. “I think it can be not just nationally but globally attractive. I think that could turn into another Apple Blossom-type festival.”

McInturff joined the council as the local and national economies were plunging into a recession, and city revenues suffered as a result.

Now that the economy is improving, he said, he hopes to see some of the investments the councilors have made in recent years start to pay off by providing more tax dollars from Winchester visitors.

When he ran for office two years ago, McInturff had just sold the two Dealer’s Lot vehicle sales publications he owned and retired. That has provided him extra time to focus on council work.

“That’s a double-edged sword,” he said. “I’m available to spend more time dealing with council issues, but because I’ve been spending more time on it I’ve gotten more involved.

“It may not be a good thing for me personally because I’ve gotten so involved with it. My granddaughters comment all the time that Paw Paw spends too much time on the phone.”

McInturff also said he thinks several of his council colleagues could decide to retire from public service in the next four years, and he would like to be available to “pass along the council’s philosophy and camaraderie and the true concern we have for Winchester.”

McInturff served on the Tree Commission before being elected to the council.

Since then, he’s been the council’s liaison to several of its advisory boards and committees, was one of its representatives on the joint committee with Shenandoah University that reviewed the Millwood Avenue project and served as chairman of the public-private panel that reviewed the city government’s information technology needs.

His fellow councilors chose him as the city’s vice-mayor for 2011 and 2012, then elected him vice president in 2013.

He lives at 1408 Valley Ave.

— Contact Vic Bradshaw at vbradshaw@winchesterstar.com