Election season is under way in Weirton

The deadline to file for office in Weirton was at noon Saturday, and you may have already looked through our report on today’s front page, listing who currently is included. There still is time for changes, such as those who mailed in their application or those who may decide to withdraw in the next few days, but, for the most part, we have an accounting of those interested in leading the city for the next four years.

Weirton does something few, if any, communities in our area do with their elections by having the mayor and all seven members of council on the ballot at the same time. Most cities have staggered terms, allowing for at least a few incumbents to stay on board for a couple of years. In Weirton, however, there is the potential to have an entirely new group of elected officials every four years.

I, of course, know all of the incumbents taking part in this year’s municipal election, as well as a handful of the challengers. From that, I can tell you it should be an interesting time leading up to the primary and general elections.

We are guaranteed to have at least one new face on council beginning July 1, as Ward 5’s current representative has not filed for re-election. Five candidates have stepped up in the hopes of filling that seat.

The other race to watch, at least in the primary election on April 2, will be that for Ward 1 where the incumbent is facing competition from two other residents.

As the primary election looks for the top two finishers in each race, all other seats — mayor, Ward 2, Ward 6 and Ward 7 — will have their entire slates move to the general election with no eliminations.

Two incumbent members of council — Fred Marsh and George Ash, who represent Ward 3 and Ward 5 respectively — currently are guaranteed re-election as they face no challenger.

We will be working in the weeks leading up to the primary election to profile each of the candidates in the hopes of allowing voters to get better acquainted with each of them.

There is a great deal going on in Weirton, with efforts to attract new businesses and industries, create new community events and attractions, better prepare the community for the future and attract new residents.

It’s going to take serious people who truly are looking out for the future of the city and its people, and not just to make a name for themselves.

I’ve had the opportunity to be part of covering several local elections during my time at The Weirton Daily Times, and this is my advice to all of those who are now political candidates:

¯ Do your research. Study up on the city charter. Learn about the different departments, who leads them, what responsibilities they have. Find out what your actualy duties as an elected official will be prior to taking office.

¯ Attend municipal meetings now. Don’t wait until July, if you get elected, to walk into council chambers for the first time. The budget process is beginning soon and there will be workshops to discuss the proposals. There are several other municipal boards in operation. Check them all out.

¯ Attend community functions and introduce yourself to the voters. You are going to be representing the people of Weirton. You need to get to know them, and let them get to know you. Be prepared to answer their calls at all times of the day. Once elected, you work for them.

I’m also recommending an organization, or multiple organizations, in the city consider holding a candidate forum of some sort — and let people know about it. This will provide another opportunity for residents to get to know their candidates.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)