Middletown council seats at stake Tuesday

Posted: November 1, 2012

The Winchester Star

John A.Copeland
Clarence C. “Trip” Chewning III
Mark H.Davis
Charles H. Harbaugh IV
Mary L.Shull
Thomas S.Simon
Carole S. Snyder

MIDDLETOWN — It’s been a rough year for the Town Council here, but current members are hoping Tuesday’s election will be a final step toward stabilizing the local government.

Five of the six spots open this election are occupied on an interim basis following a rash of resignations in the spring.

Former Mayor Marshall J. “Mark” Brown and council members Gilbert “Gil” Barrington and John Blaisdell resigned at a raucous March 12 meeting.

About a month later, council member Carl Bernhards resigned after being indicted on tax evasion charges.

The resignations, coupled with council member Charles Harbaugh IV moving to the interim mayor position, created a government body that included four appointed members.

All of the interim council members are trying to hang onto the seats to which they were appointed.

The Middletown ballot is broken into three sections:

Harbaugh is running unopposed for mayor.

Three council seats — two of which are currently filled by interim replacements and the other by elected member Mark H. Davis — are up for election. Former council member Mary L. Shull is also challenging for one of the three spots.

Two interim council members are running unopposed to remain in their positions until Dec. 31, 2014 — the date when the elected members’ terms would have expired.

A look at the candidates:

MAYOR

Charles H. Harbaugh IV

Age: 25

Occupation: Performs  various duties at C.S. Jennings Construction Inc.

Harbaugh was first elected to the council in 2010. In December of 2011, council members chose him to become vice-mayor, and he took over as interim mayor after Brown resigned in March.

He is hoping to continue working with the council to stabilize the town’s finances, finalize a water agreement with the city of Winchester and adjust the town’s boundaries.

Harbaugh said the current council is making progress, as it has put aside name-calling and dysfunction to work on the town’s problems.

“We’re sticking together,” he said, citing the appearance of three council members, the municipal clerk and himself in court Tuesday to defend the town against a lawsuit from former mayor Brown.

FOUR-YEAR COUNCIL TERM

C.C. “Trip” Chewning III

Age: 70

Occupation: Retired

His first time serving in government, Chewning was appointed to the council this year. He would like to return for a full term to complete unfinished business, especially finding ways to pay for needed repairs to the town’s wastewater treatment plant.

Chewning also believes he works well with other council members.

“I feel I’m a steadying influence,” he said.

Mark H. Davis

Age: 56

Occupation: Electrical engineer

Davis was first elected to the council in May 2008 and wants to stay on to continue emphasizing the town’s long-term planning.

“What do we want the town to be like 25 years from now?” is the question Davis thinks should drive council decisions. Most importantly, the town needs to update its Comprehensive Plan and adjust its boundaries, he added.

Mary L. Shull

Age: 62

Occupation: Coral  Graphics employee

Shull filled unexpired terms on the council from 2002 to 2004 and 2005 to 2008. In both instances she ran to remain in her position but was unsuccessful.

Shull says she has expertise from serving previously on the council and that change is needed.

Touting her ability to work well on a team, Shull added that she is in favor of adjusting the town’s boundaries, bringing in more development and making improvements to the wastewater treatment plant — which she says should have been done years ago when the problem would have been cheaper to fix.

Carole S. Snyder

Age: 63

Occupation: Receptionist at Blue Ridge Pediatrics

Snyder, who was appointed to the council after Bernhards resigned, believes she can help get the town on the right track.

Snyder is in favor of making improvements to the wastewater treatment plant and bringing new businesses to the town.

FOR UNEXPIRED TERM  TO END DEC. 31, 2014

John A. Copeland

Age: 75

Occupation: Retired

Copeland, who previously served 13 years on the Town Council and 12 as mayor, was appointed earlier this year and chosen as vice-mayor.

Copeland said the town needs to improve its wastewater treatment plant, park, sidewalks and water lines. He stressed that all of the improvements will require revenue, which means the town needs more housing and businesses.

Thomas S. Simon

Age: 49

Occupation: Regional electronic security installation manager at Diebold Inc.

Another appointee after the rash of resignations, Simon believes his experience running a budget at Diebold would serve him well.

— Contact Conor Gallagher at cgallagher@winchesterstar.com