Incumbents maintain seats in Westover city election blowout

WESTOVER — Less than three dozen voters turned out for Westover’s City Council election this week and all incumbents were re-elected.

 Westover officials refused to provide information about the election, including:

  •  The cost of Tuesday’s  city election.
  • The number of registered voters in the city of Westover eligible to vote in Tuesday’s city election.
  • The number of voters who typically turnout for a City Council election in the City of Westover.
  • The smallest number of voters to turnout for a City Council election in the City of Westover and what year that was.
  • The number of polling places that were open for Tuesday’s election.
  • The number of poll workers who worked during Tuesday’s  election.

Westover City Clerk Sandra Weis was asked for that information June 13. She told The Dominion Post she would have to get permission from Mayor Dave Johnson before releasing those details.

When her office was called a few hours later, but before 5 p.m., there was no answer.

The Dominion Post has prepared a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain   that information.

Weis said just 34 residents voted in the election held for  the positions of mayor and ward council members.

She said  Johnson, running unopposed, was re-elected mayor with 34 votes.

“Council member Ralph Mullens, 1st Ward, had five votes,” she said. “Council member Janice Goodwin, 2nd Ward, had 18 votes, and Leonard Smith, 3rd Ward, had nine votes.”

Weis said there were two provisional ballots for council members and those will be counted during the canvas to be held  Monday.

“It’s a shame we have to spend so much money” on an uncontested election, Weis said.

She said she thought the citizens were happy with the government the way it was, especially because no other candidates ran against the incumbents.

Westover’s at-large council positions were not up for re-election, but former council member-at-large James Elvis Austen’s seat is  vacant. Austen resigned a few weeks ago, before his term was up.

Weis said city council would probably nominate someone for that position at Monday’s meeting.

Council member Ralph Mullins said he was happy to serve Westover’s citizens again.

“Nobody was contested, so it wasn’t much of an election,” he said. “But, I’m certainly happy to still hold the position.”

Mullins said he believed the low turn-out for the election was because there were no challengers.

“I think most of the people thought to themselves, ‘What’s the use of going to vote if the result is already decided?’ ” Mullins said.

He said he agreed with Weis that the election was expensive.

“It cost us,” he said.

“I’m not certain for this election, but I know that for instance, Elvis Austen resigned, and if we wouldn’t be able to appoint a council member in his place, we would have to hold a special election, and it would cost us around $5,000 to do so.”

Mullins said he  grew up in Westover and   moved away after graduating from WVU. He said he was back six years now and  is looking  to the future under  Johnson’s leadership.

“First and foremost, I’m a big proponent of Mayor Dave Johnson,” he said.  “Westover is home, and Dave Johnson, in all of the years that I’ve been alive, I truly believe is the best mayor that we’ve had, and so I’m looking forward to working together with him.”

Mullins said he and   Johnson are   looking forward to the annexation Westover has made re-cently “on the left side of the interstate (79) toward Star City. That’s going to be introducing a lot of revenue for the city of Westover, which is just going to make all of our public places better for the residents of Westover.

“We’re just continuing to look toward to the future, and especially with the new annexation and all the new businesses being built in the part that’s been recently annexed. It’s going to enable us to do a lot of things for the residents of Westover.”

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