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Belpre residents to vote on city council spots

September 29, 2009
By Jolene Craig, Special to the Times

BELPRE - Belpre City Council could see a number of new faces after November's election.

Half of the races for council positions are contested, with races for city treasurer, city auditor and 1st and 4th Wards uncontested.

There are three people vying for the 2nd Ward council seat, including incumbent Debbie Marshall, Democrat; Stephen Rogers, Republican; and write-in candidate Roger Hendershot.

Marshall wraps up her first term in office Dec. 31.

"I really just want to continue to help the citizens," said Marshall,who is a minister for Whitman Chapel AME Church in Belpre.

If re-elected, Marshall said she hopes to revisit the possibility of a city-wide curfew for children and teenagers.

Fact Box

1st Ward

Larry K. Martin (R), 208 Elm St.

2nd Ward

Roger David Hendershot (write-in), 506 Elm St.

Deborah L. Marshall (D), 810 Franklin Ave.

Stephen Rogers (R), 809 Main St.

3rd Ward

Bradley W. Harper (R), 1426 Virginia St.

Eric W. Sinnett (D), 927 Belrock Ave.

4th Ward

Dewey Robinson (D), 2404 Norris Ave.

At Large

Susan J. Abdella (R), 765 Ann St.

John E. Baker (D), 129A Hamilton Court

Linda Mulligan Boso (R), 765 Ann St.

Steve Null (independent), 2321 Washington Blvd.

Council President

Judith A. Drake (write-in), 809 Westview Drive

Will Neff (R), 1454 Boulevard Drive

"I think it is something that we need to help our youth," she said.

Rogers said that as a longtime Belpre resident and a 25-year member of the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department, he has something to bring to council.

"I have experience within the city," said Rogers, a retired Wood County Schools teacher. "I know a lot of people, and I think we need some fresh thoughts in council."

Rogers said he is concerned with the city's budget and spending.

"I think everybody knows money is tight, and I think that is one of the first things the new council should do in the next year," he said. "We need to start making decisions for the sake of the citizens."

Hendershot did not return repeated messages left at his home.

A former city councilman and a former mayoral candidate are each hoping to be chosen as the next council member representing the 3rd Ward.

Republican Brad Harper, who served on council from 2004 to 2005, said he chose to run after the local Republican party asked him to represent them in the election.

"I also have served before, so I have a working body of knowledge I can use about council," Harper said.

Harper said he is worried about the future of Belpre and wants to work with the city administration in fixing it.

"I think (council) needs to look at the city's wishes and its wants and see what money we have to spend on each of those items," he said.

Eric Sinnett won the Democratic primary over incumbent Lori Kress in the spring and said he wants to help make the city more financially stable, if he wins.

"The financial stability of the city worries me," said Sinnett, who currently works as an industrial mechanic for Solvay Advance Polymers.

Unlike Harper, Sinnett has little to no political experience, but said he is more than anxious to learn.

"I ran for mayor six years ago when Bill McAfee won," he said. "But, right now, I have no agenda or anything I personally would like to get the city to do or get done.

"I just want to make Belpre better," Sinnett said.

There are four people seeking three at-large seats on council - three incumbents and a former council member.

Susan Abdella, who is finishing her second term on council, said she wants to continue to work for and with the people of Belpre.

"There is a lot of unfinished business left, and there are things I want to see finished before I'm ready to leave office," said Abdella, the current council finance and audit committee chairwoman.

Linda Boso said she is running for a second term on council because she wants to continue to represent the people of Belpre.

"I like helping the city and its people, and I want to be part of the things happening," she said.

Boso is a nurse anesthetist in Belpre and is on the Belpre Board of Health as well as the Belpre Alumni Association.

The third incumbent, Democrat John Baker, hopes to add to the four terms he has already served.

"I have many years of working with a very successful council that works, and I hope to continue working with them," Baker said.

Rounding out the race is independent candidate Steve Null, owner of the Belrock Diner.

Null served one term on council earlier in the decade. He last ran for public office in 2005 when he faced current Mayor Mike Lorentz for council president.

"I am very interested in the city and want to help in any way I can," Null said. "I think my past experience in the city and as a business owner, I could really help the city be run like a business because that is what it is."

The final contested race in the city is that of council president, which has Republican Will Neff going up against write-in candidate Judy Drake.

"One thing I want to do is encourage people to buy local, which will hopefully lead to empty buildings being filled," said Neff, the current city treasurer, former council president and former Belpre safety service director.

Drake, who is a volunteer for several organizations in and around Belpre, said she decided to seek the office after several people approached her and encouraged her to run.

"It gives me an opportunity to set a good example before the community about leadership," she said.

Drake, who has never before run for office, said that being retired from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs after many years has given her knowledge to understand legal language and other items in the paperwork.

"I look forward to working for the people and with them when I am elected," she said.

Those running uncontested include incumbent Larry Martin for 1st Ward, incumbent Dewey Robinson for 4th Ward, former Mayor Bill McAfee for city treasurer and Leslie Pittenger for city auditor.



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