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Westover Council takes no action on Mullins’ request for remote participation

WESTOVER — Westover City Council took no action Monday on a request from the attorney representing 1st Ward Councilor Ralph Mullins seeking accommodations for Mullins to participate in meetings via speaker phone.

Monday’s meeting marked the fifth consecutive meeting missed by Mullins, who hasn’t attended since an altercation between himself and Mayor Dave Johnson during an executive session following council’s Feb. 22 meeting.

After the incident, during which Mullins said he was shoved by Johnson, Mullins filed a complaint with the West Virginia State Police, who investigated the altercation and, last week, filed a misdemeanor battery charge against Johnson.

There have been conflicting reports of what occurred that evening.

As for Monday’s non-action by council, City Attorney Tim Stranko said Mullins made the request because he “feels unsafe” and fears “physical attack,” should he attend in person.

Stranko further explained he began correspondence with Mullins’ legal counsel in early March, but the request for a speaker phone didn’t come until April 25.

Both Mullins and Johnson have three meetings remaining before a new council is seated, as neither are seeking reelection in next month’s city election.

According to Stranko, three consecutive unexcused absences constitute a forfeiture of a council seat, though removing a member would require a vote from council.

In other news from Monday’s meeting, council adopted changes to the city’s land-use code that will allow the city’s funeral homes to have a crematory on-site with conditional-use approval from the board of zoning appeals.

Council also voted to annul a section of Poling Avenue measuring 25 feet by 325 feet.

Lastly, City Clerk Sandie Weis said the deadline for write-in candidates ahead of the June 14 municipal election has passed.

The final list of candidates is:

Mayor — Robert Lucci;

Council-at-large — Duane Tatar (incumbent)

First Ward — Alli Jackson

Second Ward — Jeffrey Friend (incumbent); Gary Marlin

Third Ward — Shawna Cross

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