WHEELING - City voters gave Mayor Andy McKenzie a second term during the Tuesday municipal election, as he defeated political newcomer Jerome Poynton by 857 votes.
The race drew extra attention in recent months because city officials have used eminent domain to acquire Poynton's 15th Street home as part of the plan to construct the planned East Wheeling sports field. City officials have received clearance from the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to proceed with the demolition of Poynton's home, a fact he recognized in acknowledging his defeat Tuesday.
"Well, I guess the next step is I lose my house," Poynton said. "I just have to move on now and see what the world brings."
In the final, unofficial vote count, McKenzie garnered 3,214 votes, while Poynton received 2,357 votes.
In returning for a second term, McKenzie will join Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge, Councilman Robert "Herk" Henry, Councilman Don Atkinson and Vice Mayor Eugene Fahey, as well as Councilmen-elect Ken Imer and David Miller.
McKenzie, who could not be reached for comment late Tuesday, previously said his main goals for a second term would be to "continue to eliminate and decrease fees and taxes; create developable land by eliminating dilapidated structures; work with state and federal governments in grants, economic development and to promote the city; work with Regional Economic Development partners and the state to bring investment and businesses to our city."
Regarding the city's water, sewers and roads, McKenzie said he would "continue to invest through updates and modernizing sewer lines; maintaining current sewer system and investing in a new water treatment plant for clean, safe water; maintain our roads by investing in paving and keeping them in good, safe working order."
As for Poynton, he said losing to McKenzie was tough, but he respected the voters' decision.
"That is just the way it goes. You do the best you can with it," he said. "I truly thought we were going to win, but I feel I did the best I could.
"The 2,357 people who voted for me voted for a more open government," Poynton continued. "Hopefully McKenzie will get the message.
"I really thought we would win it," Poynton added. "But at least we showed that a lot of people oppose this idea of a closed, secret government that makes backroom deals and shuts out the public."