Beech Bottom elects a new mayor

BEECH BOTTOM – Beginning July 1, a new mayor and a mix of current and new council members will lead Beech Bottom following Tuesday’s election.

Unofficial totals put Councilwoman Becky Uhlly as the winner of the mayor’s seat with 87 votes, while incumbent George Lewis received 68 votes.

Nine candidates, including four who filed as official write-in candidates, sought council’s five at-large seats. The apparent winners of those seats are incumbents Bob Sadler, with 102 votes; Greg Sheperd, with 94 votes; and Ted Westfall, with 92 votes; and challengers Sharon Jordan, one of the write-in candidates, with 86 votes; and Debbie Murdock, with 66 votes.

Other candidates and their totals were Judy Lewis, with 65 votes; and write-in candidates Theresa Shafer, with 39 votes; incumbent Linda Clelland, with 29 votes; and Melissa Smith Kemp, with 16 votes.

Also on Tuesday incumbent Village Recorder Linda Dowell received 100 votes, defeating her opponent, Amy Gibson, who received 50.

All totals are unofficial until ballots are canvassed by the village’s election board at 7 p.m. Monday at the Municipal Building.

Peggy Nelson, election commissioner, said about 155 cast ballots in the election on Tuesday or in advance during the two-week early voting period.

She said turnout was higher than the previous election, when the mayor’s seat was unchallenged.

Beech Bottom’s population is about 500.

Uhlly, who has served on council for four years, said she tossed her hat into the ring after she was asked by some residents to run for mayor.

“They asked me and I did it, so now I’m happy,” she said, adding she looks forward to working with the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle to bring new businesses to the former Wheeling Corrugating Plant and to updating village ordinances that have become outdated.

Judy Lewis said her husband, George, is out of town, but she relayed news of the election results to him by phone.

Expressing her own pride in her husband’s efforts as mayor, she said, “He’s going to walk out with his head held high, knowing what a good job he did.”

During his tenure as mayor, Lewis worked for the completion of a $1.9 million water line replacement and extension project and establishment of a new Veterans Memorial at the Municipal Building, among other projects.

Because there was a difference of just one vote between her and Murdock, Lewis was asked if she planned to challenge the election results. Lewis said as best friends, she and Murdock laughed when they learned about the close totals and she has no plans to challenge them.

The five elected to council expressed appreciation to the voters who supported them.

Sadler said it helped that he is a Beech Bottom native who knows many residents, but said the voters also know he has worked hard for the village. He said he will continue to focus on street pavement and sidewalk repairs.

Noting the recent developments at the corrugating plant, Westfall said, “I’m looking forward to working to bring more businesses and jobs to the village.’

Sheperd said the previous council worked well together because it divided duties according to members’ strengths and he anticipates that will happen again under Uhlly.

Murdock said she was “very excited and very shocked” by her victory. Having worked with children professionally and as a volunteer, she hopes to work with council to add playgrounds for youth living at the village’s north and south ends.

Jordan said she has met a lot of people through her position as Beech Bottom postmaster but still was “shocked” to have won the election.

She said she was impressed by the current council’s teamwork and wanted to get involved.

“I think they do a lot of great things and wanted to be a part of that,” Jordan said.

Dowell thanked voters for their support, saying, “It makes me feel good that everyone was real confident in me.”

She has served as village recorder for six years, having been appointed to serve the remaining two years of the previous recorder’s term before serving her current four-year term.