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First Female Mayor in Bridgeport History Is Sworn Into Office

Mayor Norma Teasdale officially took the oath of office Wednesday, becoming Bridgeport’s first female mayor.

Prior to being elected in November and sworn into office, Teasdale was a member of council. She had been acting mayor since March 2020 while former mayor David Smith was being investigated.

Smith later resigned from office and eventually was convicted of theft in office.

Teasdale said she is humbled and honored to move into the position.

“I wish to thank my family, my friends, my co-workers and residents of Bridgeport for this honor. With everyone’s cooperation and with God’s help, we will help to elevate the pride in Bridgeport,” she said.

Solicitor Michael Shaheen said it was an honor to administer the oath to Teasdale Wednesday.

“Her role here optimizes the baptism by fire. She works so hard to get herself up to speed and we’re very proud of her,” Shaheen said.

Carole Lyle, secretary to the mayor and a longtime friend, said she has known Teasdale since grade school.

“When most people are enjoying their retirement, Norma Teasdale is making a difference in her community. I probably shouldn’t mention this, but Norma is 82 years young and giving her all to make Bridgeport better,” she said.

Councilmen Robert Bennington and Ben Lenz, who were both re-elected in November, were also sworn into office prior to the start of the first meeting of the year.

Following the oath-taking, the meeting began with the council short two members. The first order of business was to introduce and interview three applicants who submitted letters of interest — Michael Bowles, Shirley Hamilton and Jefferey Hennesey. Shaheen said each candidate would be allotted three minutes to speak to council and state why they should be appointed, then the floor would be open to nominations.

Bowles, a four-year village resident and employee of McKeen Security, said he would like to help bring grants to the village, become further involved with the village by inquiring what residents’ main concerns are, and help the village prosper. Councilwoman Michelle Lucarelli asked if he was familiar with finding and writing grants. He responded that he was not but would do research on the topic. He said he would like to help the seniors and obtain possible funding for a community center.

Hamilton, a seven-year village resident and employee of Bridgeport Equipment, said she would like to put on more community events to help bring in funds to the village, if appointed. She said she would like to assist in making the village a better place for residents.

Hennesey, a 27-year resident and bus driver, said he feels people should do more to be a part of their communities and being on council is a good way to do that.

Bennington nominated Hamilton to be appointed to a council seat; the motion was seconded by Lucarelli and the vote in favor was unanimous. No other recommendations were made, leaving one seat vacant. Shaheen said the mayor can now appoint a person to fill the seat at council’s next meeting.

In other matters, Bev Reed, a member of the Concerned Ohio River Residents who has been making her way to village and city meetings with her water concerns, provided council with a binder containing information on possible pollutants in the city of Martins Ferry’s water source, where the village obtains its water. The group’s main concern is possible water contamination from Austin Master Services, a frack waste recycler that operates in the city. CORR members and other residents have alleged that the plant does not properly contain the waste it processes.

“We all drink Martins Ferry’s water now and we should all be aware of it,” Reed said, adding that CORR wants to work together with all parties to have a safe community.

Though there was some momentary back and forth between some council members, Reed and her father, Robert Reed, things ended amicably with council members agreeing to look into the matter. Reed said they all need to work together to solve the issue.

“What we all have in common is the need for clean water and clean air and that’s why we’re doing it,” Reed said.

Teasdale thanked Reed for coming in and informing them of CORR’s concerns.

Council will next meet at 6 p.m. Feb. 22 in council chambers, 301 Main St., Bridgeport.

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