NEW CUMBERLAND - Political newcomer Linda McNeil has won the race for mayor in New Cumberland, beating incumbent Mayor Richard Blackwell and longtime city employee Pat Jones.
"I consider it a great honor," McNeil said Tuesday night. "I will try very, very hard to work with the town folk to make things good."
McNeil received 101 votes, while Blackwell and Jones got 65 and 62 votes respectively, according to results released by City Clerk Tammy Jenkins.
"It's a bit of a disappointment," Blackwell said.
"The people talked, so bless 'em," said Jones, who staked out the polling place at the New Cumberland Volunteer Fire Department after the polls closed at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
McNeil's husband, Robert, also was there. When the results were posted, at about 8:45 p.m., he looked them over carefully, then called his wife. "Honey, you won," he said with a smile.
The three-way mayoral race added spice to an otherwise quiet election season in New Cumberland. It pitted McNeil, 71, a retired registered nurse and local historian, against Blackwell, 71, the incumbent, and Jones, 59, whose candidacy generated some controversy among city residents.
Jones was the target of an anonymous letter sent to West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant claiming that he is not a resident of the city - a claim Jones vigorously denied. Blackwell, in turn, questioned Jones' ability to be mayor while also serving as the city's chief water operator.
At the fire department, with some supporters at his side, Jones was sanguine about the loss.
"She won, and I hope she's able to uphold what she says she can do. I'll work with her in any way I can," Jones said. "Whatever's best for the community, and the community spoke out."
In the only contested city council race, Ward 1 incumbent Brian Webster defeated Water-Sewerage Board member Melissa Perkins by a vote of 48 to 37.
Unopposed Ward 2, Seat A Councilman Shawn Marks received 92 votes, and unopposed Ward 2, Seat C Councilwoman Judith Bartley received 95 votes.
Ward 2, Seat B Councilman Arthur "Jack" Watson did not run for re-election, so his vacant seat will have to be filled by mayoral appointment. All elected city officials begin their new term on July 1, the start of the fiscal year.
The city Park Board levy was affirmed by a vote of 120 to 92.
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