New Cumberland to choose ward rep

NEW CUMBERLAND – Brian Webster is running on his record of eight years as a New Cumberland city councilman, while his opponent, Melissa Perkins, thinks city council could use some new blood.

Webster, 47, and Perkins, 48, are the candidates on Tuesday’s ballot for Ward 1, Seat C – the only contested city council race in New Cumberland this year.

Webster, a 1984 graduate of Oak Glen High School, comes from a family of public servants. His grandfather was New Cumberland justice of the peace, and his father, William Webster, was the New Cumberland police chief and Hancock County sheriff.

“I just wanted to help the city as much as I could,” Webster said, referring to his motivation to run for council eight years ago.

If re-elected, Webster said he wants to do more to improve New Cumberland’s streets and sidewalks.

“A lot of people aren’t happy with the condition of the streets and the condition of some of the buildings,” he said. “There are buildings and houses that should be cleaned up as nuisances.”

He’s also interested in improving morale and “community pride” in New Cumberland, including getting more people involved in city events.

“I’m getting a lot of support from people who say they’re going to vote for me,” said Webster, who works as an assistant manager at the New Cumberland Sparkle market.

Perkins, a 1983 graduate of Oak Glen, said Webster’s service to the city is commendable but reaching the end of its usefulness.

“There needs to be a change there,” she said. “I’ve been talking to people one-on-one and hoping they’ll vote me in for a change.”

While touting some new ideas, Perkins is not totally unfamiliar with the ways of city government.

A bookkeeper at the Hancock County Sheltered Workshop, she served a short stint on city council in 2011. She was appointed to Richard Blackwell’s vacated seat in May of that year but had to relinquish it when Patrick Jones was elected and took office in July. Council terms run from July 1, the start of the fiscal year.

Perkins also serves on the New Cumberland Water/Sewer Board, a position to which she was appointed by Arthur “Jack” Watson.

Perkins said her experience has prepared her for city council, where she hopes to be an independent voice.

“You have to have your own mind when you’re in that position, and you have to look at what’s best for the city,” she said.

Perkins said she wants to improve the quality of city government, especially its service to residents. “They shouldn’t have to call the city four times before something is fixed,” she said. “One lady waited a year for her water line to be fixed. Things like that need to be taken care of – for the customers who are paying for water and sewer service.”

Also Tuesday, city residents will vote on a three-way mayor’s race and on two uncontested council seats. Ward 2 incumbents Shawn Marks and Judith Bartley are both running unopposed.

Watson, the Ward 2, Seat B councilman, is not running for re-election, and no one filed for that seat by the Jan. 26 deadline, so the vacancy will have to be filled by mayoral appointment.

New Cumberland has two wards, each of which has three council seats. Council members serve four-year terms, but the terms are staggered so there are elections for some seats every two years.

Early voting is ongoing today, Friday and Saturday at the New Cumberland Municipal Building. Weekday voting hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday voting hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Voting on Tuesday, election day, is from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the New Cumberland Volunteer Fire Department.