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Dunleavy to run for Commission

By Staff | Jul 2, 2010

Ed Dunleavy

CHARLES TOWN – A former member of the Jefferson County Planning Commission hopes to secure a seat on the County Commission through a petition campaign.

Edward Dunleavy, a Shepherdstown resident and lifelong independent, announced Tuesday that he plans to file a petition with the Jefferson County Clerk in an attempt to appear on November’s ballot.

Since there is no primary for candidates not affiliated with the two major political parties, individuals are able to run for office by securing the requisite number of petition signatures by July 30. In Dunleavy’s case, that figure is equal to 1 percent of the voter turnout in the 2008 general election race for Jefferson County Commission, or roughly 220 people.

“It isn’t a huge number. I think it’s very doable on the one hand, but I’ve never done anything like this before,” he said.

Dunleavy, who spent 32 years in the financial investment industry prior to his retirement, served on the Jefferson County Planning Commission until 2009. During his two years on the planning commission, he worked with others to help develop a new zoning ordinance for the county, though that document was later rejected by voters when the issue was brought up for referendum. “I was disappointed in the way the new zoning ordinance was handled,” he said.

Dunleavy said that instead of placing the lengthy document before residents in one large chunk, the zoning ordinance should have been separated in to digestible pieces.

He would like to see portions of the zoning ordinance, particularly those that deal with history and other key issues, reintroduced for consideration, he said.

“The current zoning ordinance fails to recognize history,” he said.

Since moving to the area in 2002, Dunleavy has taken an active roll in attempting to ensure historic preservation.

He was vocal in the debates that surrounded a controversial community known as Far Away Farms, and worked with the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association in an attempt to stop development on the property where the new community is slated, stating that the parcel was a part of an 1862 Civil War battleground.

He also has been involved in the county’s attempt to purchase a historic property on the Potomac River.

Dunleavy wants to run for County Commission because he sees himself as separate from special interest groups, unlike, he said, the other two candidates.

“It seems to me that the county would be better served by an individual who is not with special interests,” he said.

Dunleavy and his wife initially supported Ruth McQuade, a Democrat, in May’s primary election, he said.

When local attorney Paul Taylor earned the party’s nod in that race, Dunleavy began considering a possible run, he said.

“In the primary, my wife and I supported Ruth McQuade and my wife and I thought she had the right idea for where the county ought to go,” he said.

He is running on a platform that includes economic development, preservation of open space, quality of life and the promotion of “ecotourism,” among other things.

“Not a lot is getting done. I’m always puzzled by how certain things are handled by the county commission,” he said, noting that he was particularly concerned with the county’s budgeting process.

If Dunleavy’s petition drive is successful, he will face off this November against Taylor and Republican candidate Walt Pellish.

A write-in campaign also remains possible for incumbent Jim Surkamp, who was defeated by Paul Taylor for the Democratic nomination in the primary.