June 1 election at Entler
Shepherdstown Mayor Arthur James “Jim” Auxer III is running unopposed in the June 1 Municipal Election.
There is no opposition for any of the posts to be filled in town government. In fact, there are fewer candidates than available seats – members will begin their service by appointing a sixth Town Council member to fill the slate.
Incumbents include Auxer, Recorder Lori Robertson and Town Councilwoman Wanda Grantham Smith.
Newcomers whose names will appear on the ballot are David Rosen, Bane Schill and Josh Stella. Any write-in candidate needed to file in advance. No one filed.
Early voting began May 12 and ends Saturday, May 29. Early voting can be done from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 22, and Saturday, May 29, at the Shepherdstown Town Hall, 104 N. King St.
On Election Day, June 1, polls are open at the Entler Hotel from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The Entler is located at the intersection of German and Princess streets.
Mayor Arthur “Jim” Auxer III (I)
Shepherdstown Mayor Arthur James “Jim” Auxer III has been involved in town government since he moved his family to area in the early 1990s. He served as mayor from July 2000 through June 2004, later serving as a Town Council member before again being elected mayor in 2008.
Auxer lives with his wife Dawn Fye and their daughter at 108 E. New St. He graduated from Shepherd College in 1969 and helps lead mental health services at the Eastern Regional Jail. Auxer was named the 2010 Alumnus of the Year at Shepherd’s commencement ceremonies last Saturday.
During his service as mayor and in various committees, Auxer has helped spearhead various infrastructure improvement projects. He said he intends to continue such initiatives in the coming two-year term, which begins July 1.
Key goals for the mayor include an upgrade to the town’s aging sewage treatment plant, refurbishing water infrastructure and providing more water storage capacity, and milling and paving streets. He hopes street work will begin this summer; the town is first targeting the deteriorated sections of Washington, High and King streets. Auxer also wants to maximize the use of town parks.
The Town Council also recently voted to put out for bid the plans to build a new, 3,000-square-foot Town Hall at the existing 104. N. King St. site.
Auxer plans to work with Shepherd to construct a W.Va. 480 pedestrian crossing to connect east and west campus.
He says longtime town employees cannot remember an election as quiet as this, but he has talked with residents interested in serving on the council as appointees.
“There are people who have expressed interest and might be willing to serve,” he said. A key challenge will be bringing the new members up to speed, he added.
“The learning curve is greater than they would imagine,” Auxer said, adding he is “very positive about their ability to a good job.”
Lori Robertson (I)
Town Recorder Lori Robertson is running for a second term as Recorder. She was first elected as a council member in the 2008 election.
Robertson lives at 110 S. Princess St.
She has led the effort to get funding for a bike path to be extended from the town to Morgan’s Grove Park off W.Va. 480. A transportation enhancement grant for the project is pending, and the Jefferson County Commission has agreed to match up to 20 percent of the cost.
She believes the town should adopt the Urban Growth Boundary proposed by the Jefferson County Commission. It would allow the town to proceed with land annexation within the boundary without having to seek prior approvals from the county. The Town Council and Planning Commission would also have a voice when projects within that boundary are proposed to the county Planning Commission.
The time commitment for council members can be a challenge, with most members serving on two to three committees in addition to attending regular council meetings.
“We have the same issues that big towns do, and because of that we have to sit down and talk about it,” Robertson said. But she enjoys speaking with public and hearing their concerns.
“I think people feel like now they can come to a Town Council meeting and they can speak . . . We’re seeing more and more people coming to the meetings. That’s our job, to sit there and listen. . . . I like that part. I think people want to be heard.”
She serves on the Tree Commission, Planning Commission and police, parking and personnel committees.
Robertson is also an avid gardener. She helped plant hundreds of perennial flower bulbs in the new planters completed as part of the Streetscape Improvement Project, which she says has improved safety for pedestrians.
“It’s nice to walk down the street without having to stare at your feet,” she laughs.
Robertson recently wrote a recycling grant request to have bins installed along German Street.
Grantham Smith (I)
Town Councilwoman Wanda Grantham Smith is running for her fourth term on the Town Council. She has lived in Shepherdstown most of her life and works in the Office of Admissions at Shepherd University.
First elected in 2004, Smith resides at 103 N. College St.
In the past several elections, Smith has been the top vote-getter.
“I just feel like part of Shepherdstown,” said Smith. “I’m in touch with the people of Shepherdstown, and I didn’t want to lose the sense of being there for when people need help.”
When asked, Smith acknowledged that she is the de-facto voice of Shepherdstown’s African-American community. “I feel thankful and blessed that they do feel comfortable with me being their voice,” said Smith.
She has served on the Parks & Recreation Committee, the Personnel Committee and the Police Committee. And the mother of four is also a member of Asbury United Methodist Church.
North Duke Street resident David Rosen filed to run for Town Council earlier today. Rosen is currently a member of the Shepherdstown Planning Commission.
“I want to make sure that the town is taken care of and the town runs correctly,” said Rosen by phone on Monday morning.
Rosen says he has lived in Shepherdstown for a little over two years. Prior to that he lived in Harpers Ferry.
Rosen is also a graphic designer, photographer and part owner of the Plum jewelry store on West German Street. Rosen also maintains a semi-regularly updated blog called Creating Itchy where he writes about art and graphic design.
On his campaign, Rosen says he plans on pounding the pavement to drum up support. “I’m just going to be talking to my neighbors, it’s easy for me to get around and talk to my neighbors.”
William Bane Schill, a West German Street retailer/owner of D’Accord Boutique lives above his store. He is pursuing one of the five at-large Town Council seats.
He laughs as he says he doesn’t really have a platform. “I just want to do what needs to be done, whatever that may be as situations may arise,” said Schill in an interview on March 1.
Shill says the Corporation of Shepherdstown needs to find ways to reduce their dependence on video lottery funds. “As the cost of running the town goes up, as it always does, there is the great unknown of how long table games will last,” said Shill in an interview on May 19.
Another area of interest for Schill is simplifying town codes, an undertaking he has already begun during his tenure on the Planning Commission. “We’re trying to make it so that the average guy can read it and know what’s required and what’s not required,” said Schill.
Schill was among the first candidates to file for Shepherdstown’s municipal election.
“I don’t have any axes to grind, is what I’m trying to say,” he then pauses for a second and lets out another laugh and continues “…at least not yet, that could change next week.”
Schill is an active participant in municipal civic affairs, currently holding seats on Shepherdstown’s Tree Commission and Planning Commission. He also frequently attends Town Council meetings. According to records available online, Schill has attended at least 27 different meetings since last year, split between the three municipal commissions which he serves upon.
Schill sums up his philosophy on municipal governance by saying “we need to do it cheap, because we are a small town, we don’t have a lot of money and we need to do it right.”
Church Street resident Josh Stella, a current member of the Planning Commission and vocal opponent of the recent annexation of Shepherd University’s West Campus dormitories, is running for one of five at-large seats on the Town Council, saying that he wants to reduce the power of the Council, make more municipal records available online and open up some municipal legislation to approval by town-wide referenda votes.
Stella, in an interview on March 12, said that he was motivated to run because of his distaste for how the Corporation of Shepherdstown has managed the budget and how the new Town Hall project has been handled. Most importantly, Stella takes issue with the Town Council’s decision last year to annex Shepherd University’s West Campus dormitories into the town. In the debate over annexation, Stella saw a gap between public opinion and the decision of the Town Council.
“That was the last straw for me, to see that go through, despite the fact that the town strongly protested it by my measure at least six or seven to one,” said Stella. “Pretty much everyone one I knew on High Street opposed it, with a few exceptions and Council is supposed to be listening to the people, so the law didn’t work. Because those hearing were supposed to resolve that.”
Stella wants to open up some municipal decisions to referenda votes. Under his vision, the residents of town would get to cast a vote on any future annexations or any plan to spend more than $500,000 on a capital improvement.
“I think we’re a small community. We could do a lot more to involve . . . the people who live in the town,” said Stella. “I don’t think it’s Council’s role for, again, for five or six or seven people to make these big decisions for the whole town. Really, that should be up to the town.”