Five Residents Seek Two At-Large Seats on Moundsville City Council
Incumbents Brianna Hickman and Phil Remke seek to retain their at-large seats on Moundsville City Council against challengers Denny Wallace, David Seum and Randy Chamberlain.
Meanwhile, in Ward 1, incumbent Judy Hunt sees a challenge from Carole Blake Wood.
There are two at-large seats up for election, and of the five candidates, the two with the most votes will join council.
∫ Remke has been a regular on council over the past decade, serving as mayor in 2019. He said he wants to see Moundsville continue to develop economically, a field in which Remke is well acquainted. He’s frequently seen at business openings and discussing matters with developers, especially for new opportunities at the plaza on the city’s south end, where a Holiday Inn was recently built, and, he hopes, more to come.
“I’ve got a lot going, with the hotel and everything, as it is. Positive thinking brings positive results,” he said. “I’m always thinking positive. I want to make Moundsville the premier model city in the state of West Virginia, and I can do it. I did a lot of this in the past, and I didn’t do it as a city official, I did it as a hobby.”
Remke said his tendency to take matters into his own hands has found him frequently at odds with other members of council, a fact he’s not shied away from.
“I don’t like government. … I’m going to get stuff done, and that’s why some of the council doesn’t like it. I step out and do things on my own to make things happen. … There isn’t too much I haven’t put my finger on around town.”
Remke, 66, is a retired investor and businessman. He owned and operated Remke Furniture and Appliance Showcase from 1983 until 2008, after which he founded the Uptown Moundsville Activities Commission.
∫ Hickman was selected in February to fill the unexpired term of David Haynes, who had resigned his at-large seat at the end of 2019. Hickman said she hopes her modern-day political experience will help give her the edge if elected.
“It’s a really good collaborative experience, really working with everyone to figure out who has which strengths, and what we can do to make Moundsville a better place for everyone,” she said. “… Having that basic knowledge of how that operates, I think that’s going to be a huge help, if hopefully elected, come Nov. 3. That gives me a huge boost and a basic understanding of what’s going on; in running for an election, knowing what the issues are and what people have the most concerns about, and helping to work toward solutions for those.”
Hickman said that in going door-to-door to her constituents, she found that many people lamented not being fully up-to-date on events and problems within the city. Hickman believes a more proactive approach to civic engagement might serve the city well.
“Using that as a brainstorming idea, what can we do as a council to make sure our citizens are aware of what we’re doing? The website is up-to-date and very clean, the app is fantastic, but we have to find ways to come to them, rather than waiting for them to come to us. Really learning what people think are the biggest issues and figuring out ways to address those.”
∫ Chamberlain served three terms on council throughout the 1970s and 80s, including two terms as president, and seeks to bring his experience to the table.
“I can bring some experience, a little history of our city, to council. It helps to know where you’ve been when you’re trying to plan where you’re going, and I think that’s something that’s helpful to being a city councilman,” he said.
Chamberlain said Moundsville needs to buckle up and prepare for one of two eventualities — either the proposed Dilles Bottom ethane cracker plant materializes, or plans fall through. Which future comes to pass, Chamberlain said, will determine Moundsville’s course, and the council must be prepared to either see the city grow with the industry, or accept that the city isn’t as big, or as young, as it once was.
“Both will impact our city; if we get one, certainly, that will be a game changer. If we don’t get one, I think we’ll need to prepare for a smaller city. We need to accept the fact that we’re not (a population of) 16,000 anymore, we’re 8,000, and that many of our people are living on fixed incomes. We need to try and be cautious where our spending is concerned, and keep our people in a situation where it’s not unaffordable to live in Moundsville.”
Chamberlain has been a Moundsville native for all of his 74 years, and lives with his wife, Becky, who is also a lifelong resident. He has worked 12 years in the broadcasting industry and 34 years in the insurance industry, and has been a board member of the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce for many years, including two terms as president.
∫ Wallace is another former councilman who seeks to return to the fray in his retirement. He had formerly served four terms on council through the late 1990s and 2000s, for a total of 15 and a half years.
“I felt myself basically going through the motions, so I got out and didn’t run in ’14,” he said. “I just decided to run again, I want to get back involved. Back in the day, when I was there … we didn’t have a lot of money to work with. We had to make some pretty rough decisions, but we had a good council and we survived. I just don’t know what’s going on, and I want to get involved again.”
Wallace said he would bring his years of experience to the table, as well as common sense. Wallace said he was happy to learn new things and change his view on situations to suit the situation, as a governmental body should.
“If someone shows me that I’m on the wrong end, I’ll change my decision a bunch of times. I’m only one vote — every council member is one vote. They have to show three other people that their decision is the right decision, and if they can’t do that, it dies on the table,” he said.
Seum did not return multiple calls seeking comment.
1st Ward Council
∫ Hunt is the incumbent representing Moundsville’s 1st Ward, which consists of much of the north end of town. Hunt took her seat in 2017, defeating the late Paul “Dude” Haynes in the 2016 election.
Hunt said her term on council has been a wonderful experience, being able to serve her community.
“I love serving the people of Moundsville. We got a lot of things done, made a lot of progress,” she said. “Revitalization is the major thing that’s happening, new life being inspired throughout the city, and I’m really happy to be a part of that. That’s something I’d like to continue to do.”
Hunt brings 41 years of government experience to the table, having served in various local governmental capacities throughout her life. Hunt is currently the city clerk for Benwood.
“I think I’m a very valuable asset to the city of Moundsville. I have a strong financial background across three different cities,” she said.
Moving into next term, Hunt said she would like to pursue a program aimed at keeping young children off drugs, whom she said are often already familiar with illicit substances by the time drug programs usually target them.
“Our children are being lost to drugs, and one thing I’d like to accomplish next term is to get some kind of program going. Collaborate with the Marshall County Anti-Drug Task Force, and maybe get something in the library. My best friend is a school teacher, and she said by the time they get to the upper grade levels, it’s too late. You need to start early.”
∫ Wood currently is president of the Moundsville Historical Society.
“As president of the historic landmarks society, my presence on that has shown me what needs to be, and what needs to not be, on council,” she said. “I attend all council meetings, as we are a side commission of council, and I see who they give their money to, and who they don’t, and they don’t give it to me!”
Wood said she had contributed to several projects for the city, one of which was a Main Street Facade Program, which has not yet been taken to council.