Phantom candidate Geary Johns

I was surprised to read in Charles Town Ward 4 candidate Geary Johns’s campaign literature that he would “seek repair (sic) to sidewalks.”

This seemed odd because his neighbors had torn out their sidewalk and left forms and rebar in place for the better part of a year. At the far end of his block a dumpster at an apartment was moved resulting in the concrete sticking out at varying angles because of the weight of the Waste Management trucks. Given the city has a full-time inspector, I could not understand why Johns waited until election time to express an interest in the problem.

So I went to the candidate’s web site and wrote an email in which I asked him what problem he saw with the sidewalks, what he thought the cost would be to fix them, and what revenue sources he would use to do so.

It’s been more than ten days since I wrote and I have received no reply from Johns.  I debated whether I should mark him in the “unresponsive candidate” column or the “has no plan to implement his vision” column. Upon reflection I concluded that he belongs in both.

On the other hand, I had no problem reaching his opponent, Rich Bringewatt. I brought up sidewalks and Bringewatt seemed well versed in all aspects of the issue and he seemed to have a genuine interest in working with the citizens of Charles Town to solve the problem. He impressed me as a seasoned manager, well-mannered and eager to talk with voters. So I will be casting my Ward 4 vote for Bringewatt and I would encourage others to do the same.

Paul Rosa

Charles Town



Candidates should stand on own merits

As residents of Charles Town, my husband and I have been the recipients of numerous political mailings from two of the five candidates running for office in the Charles Town city elections. The two candidates are Don Clendening running for reelection in Ward 3 and Geary Johns running against an incumbent in Ward 4. In addition we received a mailing from Dave Barnes, a local resident, and a mailing signed by four current City Council members: Mark Reinhart, Ward 1, Sandy Slusher-McDonald, Ward 1, Chet Hines, Ward 2 and Wayne Clark, Ward 2 supporting Clendening. All of these mailings have come with a specious attachment that is supposed to be a comparison between Clendening and Johns and their respective opponents Jonathan Wertman and Rich Bringewatt.

While we appreciate the democratic rights of our country we have found these political mailings to be in bad form providing vague, inaccurate, inconsequential or misleading information by Clendening and Johns about their opponents. In addition the mailings have not only disparaged their opponents, but also citizens of the City of Charles Town who have shown support for the opposing candidates, Wertman and Bringewatt.

Unfortunately, this is not new to the political process in the City of Charles Town or even any other time where citizens of Charles Town having opposing viewpoints to the current political establishment. Four years ago, others ran for political office in the City of Charles Town and the negative campaigning was prevalent then. However, during this election cycle the negative campaigning is more pronounced and distorted and is an affront and embarrassment to the City of Charles Town.

Clendening seems to feel his record of tenure of service on the City Council will not stand on its own merit but needs to resort to inane and baseless accusations against Wertman, his opponent.

Johns, who has no record of holding public office, has with the help of his supporters, joined the fray of negative campaigning by also providing a mailer with a comparison between himself and Bringewatt, his opponent. In this mailer he provides completely false, unfounded almost libelous statements against Bringewatt and indeed condemns the entire city council, including the mayor, for fiscal mismanagement and other acts of malfeasance. If Johns did any research on his opponent before promoting this mailer it is not apparent by the statements in the mailer or his performance at the NAACP debate last Monday night.

We note at the bottom of each mailer that the document was not paid for nor approved by either candidate, however, we hold Clendening and Johns accountable for the misconceptions and untruths by their public support of the mailers and defending those accusations at the NAACP debate.

We cannot condone or begin to consider candidates that produce such blatant distorted literature. If candidates cannot stand on their own merits then one has to question if they have the capability and integrity to hold office.

The only positive message in any of the mailers is the importance of casting your vote.

James A Thomas Jr. and

Robin Huyett Thomas

Charles Town



Emergency Services Fee merits backing

Reading Commissioner Lynn Widmyer’s regular contribution to a newspaper column has inspired me to put together this letter to the editor in support of the proposed Emergency Services Fee. We have come to the point of growth in this county that the next step in pursuing emergency medical care is crucial to the safety and well being of county residents and the visitors we entertain. We readily acknowledge that we are a commuter county. The bulk of our able bodied EMS volunteers must travel outside our area to find gainful employment and are not here during the day to serve the community and often must rest overnight in order to stay employed. But, the workload doesn’t rest and wait on the times of greater availability. From July to April there have been 6,851 dispatches of which 5,096 or 74 percent were EMS related. It is likely we will see a 20 percent growth in workload by June 30.

I believe the paramedic that testified the other day before the county commission captured the situation best in terms of numbers. At the request of the fire chiefs, this proposal has been under active consideration for 8 years. If the chiefs recognized a problem back then, it doesn’t take much to see the growth in EMS and its implications today. The reported number of calls received over the weekends is particularly startling. The actual number of calls received just during the weekend hours of two previous weeks totaled were 38 and 32. These calls represented many critical needs including cardiac arrest, pediatric chest pains and a gunshot wound. It is clear county residents look to 911 for medical assistance. The numbers 6, 3, 2, 1 were the medic’s final metrics. Six calls in three hours involving two volunteer companies and one of which was a life saved. JCESA assigns one paramedic and one EMT as a complete medical crew 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The facts show that when our commuter community returns home, our workload goes up.

Because of this clear and pressing need, I simple urge that the concerned citizens of our community to come out Thursday at 7 p.m. to express their support the Emergency Services Fee. That is my plain spoken recommendation. Commissioner Widmyer, you can see that I pose no challenge to your very real gift for turning out expressive observations in catchy columns.


Marty L. Freeman

Charles Town



Emergency Service Agency has troubles

I would like to express my concerns regarding the Jefferson County Emergency Service Agency. In the past, when the agency started, it was able to coincide with the volunteer fire departments under the previous management. Now under its coronet management, it is trying to overtake the county and put the volunteers out of business, which is not only financially not sound but against the mission of why it was started over 13 years ago.

List of just a few of the problems under coronet management:

1) Went to Charleston legislature to set up fire service for the agency but never followed through with it.

2) Has three people as administration staff but, the previous management only required two.

3) Has a new building that “eats up” a good portion of the budget.

4) Uses the county vehicle to do personal tasks after hours at a volunteer station.

5) Had five paramedics fired under current management in only two years.

6) Has a law suit for wrongful termination against the agency.

7) Had to pay back wages for the last two years to all employes for not compensating them for overtime.

8) Previously the agency was able to assist at fire scenes, but now they can only stand back and watch.

9) Uses family to teach at the agency, when previously had an in-house instructor that was terminated.

10) Numerous complaints from existing employees that have never been investigated.

This is only a few of the problems with the current agency management, I think it needs to be included with the other county agencies and function with the direction of county administration. As for the current staffing, they are currently stationed in existing fire companies and using their equipment. So, why does the county need an office building that houses an average of three personnel? Originally, the agency was supposed to offer staffing to the county stations to enable them to provide services to the community, now, the county uses their own ambulance and bills for the service, which limits funding for the local companies.

Robert Shackelford



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