Meet the Candidates

These 14 Morgantown residents are vying for seats on city council. Election Day is April 25.

No matter what happens during Morgantown’s municipal election on April 25, city council will change once winners take office on July 1. Two of the current councilors—including Mayor Marti Shamberger— are not seeking re-election, and every seat has two candidates. We asked them two questions: How would they improve transportation? What is their take on the $3 per paycheck Safe Street and Safe Community user fee passed by the current council? And then we asked them to tell us what else they think is important for the city of Morgantown. Here is what they told us.

Ward 1

Ron Bane (incumbent)

A Morgantown native, Ron Bane has several degrees, including a Ph.D. in safety engineering from Kennedy-Western University. He works as a manager in health care and safety and has been on Morgantown City Council for 16 years. He also serves on the boards of the Morgantown Utility Board (MUB) and the Mountain Line Transit Authority.

Transportation

Advocates increasing the use of the bus line by increasing the frequency of bus routes and making the PRT more community-oriented by making it easier for all citizens to buy yearly passes. He also wants to create more bike lanes in town and to continue to improve sidewalks and crosswalks throughout the city.

User fee  

Believes the fee has enabled the city to pave more streets and hire more police, but that it needs to be carefully managed to continue to provide these services.

What else

Believes that the airport runway expansion and business development park are critical to the future of Morgantown and should be top priorities for the next council.


Rachel Fetty

Nebraska native Rachel Fetty moved to Morgantown so her husband could attend WVU. Fetty has a part-time solo practice as an attorney downtown, serves on the Housing Advisory Commission, and is the secretary of the First Ward Neighborhood Association.

Transportation

Believes city council can work with employers and other stakeholders to synchronize public transportation with work and other schedules to make the most of our public transportation.

User fee

Believes that the user fee has helped solve what she saw as the city’s biggest issue—imminent infrastructure failure— and notes that the fee has kept motorists from hitting potholes every day.

What else

Believes that one of the most challenging issues— affordable housing—can be alleviated as shifts in the availability of student housing appear to be opening up more opportunities for families, working people, and seniors, and that development that meets the current needs of our population should be encouraged.


Ward 2

Al Bonner

Lifelong Morgantown resident Al Bonner has owned and operated Gene’s Beer Garden since 1985, and he has been driving a bus for Monongalia County Schools since 2010. He has not served in any previous elected positions but did run as a write-in candidate for city council in 2015.

Transportation

Advocates bringing businesses and services back to the neighborhoods, asserting that if people don’t have to go across town to buy everything and could walk or bike to places in their neighborhoods, it would cut down on traffic.

User fee

Believes that the city made great strides in utilizing the $3 user fee for paving and handicapped-accessible curbs, and wonders what will be done with excess funds.

What else

Bonner would like to bring back small businesses. He wants to improve the quality of life in Morgantown by addressing issues such as adequate lighting, police presence, neighborhood watch, sidewalk repairs, and code enforcement.


Bill Kawecki (deputy mayor and incumbent)

Retired graphic designer Bill Kawecki has been president of the South Park Association of Neighbors (SPAN) and chair of the Board of Zoning Appeals. He is the Arts Mon board vice president and participates on the Arts Collaborative, the River Town Program, the Neighborhood Coordinating Council, and the city’s BAD (brownfield, abandoned, dilapidated) Buildings initiative.

Transportation

Kawecki believes that the city’s comprehensive plan addresses transportation issues, that it is a common-sense approach that offers a blueprint for moving forward, and that the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization (MMMPO) is effective in addressing these concerns.

User fee

Kawecki points to the results of the fee after the first year: five new police officers, 232 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-accessible curbs installed, 28 streets paved, and 53 streets on the paving list for 2017.

What else

Kawecki believes that, with cooperation, the city has an optimistic future and that a city council that works together and is responsive to community needs will help achieve that future.


Ward 3

Wes Nugent (incumbent)

Kanawha County native Wes Nugent has lived his entire adult life in Morgantown. He is a professional technologist assisting faculty and staff at WVU, where he has worked for 17 years. He has served on Morgantown City Council since 2011 and also has been the president of the Wiles Hill-Highland Park Neighborhood Association.

Transportation

Nugent advocates using PRT infrastructure and partnering with Mountain Line to create north and south transit zones, allowing riders to freely transfer between systems. He’s interested in making the most of existing infrastructure through traffic and pedestrian signal improvements, reversible traffic lanes, and bus rapid transit.

User fee

Nugent believes that those paying the user fee should expect the city to hire more police to patrol smaller zone areas; make improvements in public safety that reflect the community's preferences; maximize the paving budget rather than retaining excess user fee funds; improve the timing and timeliness of milling streets; and better communicate improvements to stakeholders.

What else

Trash, traffic, and noise are key issues.


Ryan Wallace

A full-scholarship student at WVU College of Law, Wallace has previously served as a city planning commission and council member in Michigan. The Wiles Hill resident has written successful grant applications totaling thousands of dollars in Canada, Michigan, and West Virginia.

Transportation

Believes that council needs to work closely with groups such as Mountain Line and the Morgantown Bicycle Board to address fundamental infrastructure problems, noting that potholed roads, cracked sidewalks, traffic jams, and dark streets can prevent the city from developing. Wallace would like to see more bike lanes, wider shoulders, bus shelters, and a bike-share program in town.

User fee

Wallace believes that the fee helps to decrease vehicle repair, lost time, and quality of life erosions that arise from poor road conditions and congested traffic. Emergency services are key to general public safety and need to be provided with the financial support to ensure a safe city environment, he adds.

What else

Wallace advocates hiring a full-time grant writer to pursue funding opportunities, asserting that the position of grant writer would likely more than pay for itself.


Ward 4

Eldon Callen

The Morgantown native and private practice attorney attended WVU on an Army scholarship, has worked as a magistrate, and was a Monongalia County Commissioner from 2011 to 2016. He serves on the Monongalia County Development Authority and the boards of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), the Morgantown Area Economic Partnership, and Mylan Park as well as several committees.

Transportation

Callen promotes development of alternative transportation and infrastructure corridors to connect neighborhoods by working closely with the MMMPO, the state Division of Highways (DOH), and other agencies to add sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

User fee

Callen believes the user fee rate and the usage set by the council were arbitrary and lacked a comprehensive plan for addressing the issues and was uncoordinated with the DOH or other transportation agencies.

What else

Callen wants council to make a commitment to rid the city of what he considers an anti-business image by making the maximum use of resources such as the Wharf District, the riverfront, the airport, and the I-68 Commerce Park.


Jenny Selin (incumbent)

Madison, Wisconsin, native Jenny Selin has raised her family in Morgantown. The graduate of Kent State University in Ohio has a law degree from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Transportation

Selin notes that she serves on the Morgantown Bicycle Board, which has acquired grants for infrastructure improvements such as a new biking and walking corridor on WV-705. As a member of the MMMPO, Selin advocates complete street planning that includes pedestrians, bikes, buses, cars, the PRT, and all other forms of transportation.

User fee

Selin notes that it previously would have taken 30 years or more to pave all of the streets in Morgantown and now the schedule is expected to be closer to 10 years. By the end of fall2017, she says, Morgantown will pave 80-plus new roads and add 10 new police officers.

What else

Believes that additional waterfront development is both an opportunity and challenge for city council. Improvements could include lighting along the rail-trail and establishing innovative and fun amenities in the area.


Ward 5

Ronald Dulaney

Richmond, Virginia, native Ron Dulaney Jr. lives in the Woodburn neighborhood. A licensed architect and a professor of design at WVU, Dulaney was recently recognized as the WVU Davis College outstanding service provider for his conceptual design of new equine education facilities at the J.W. Ruby Research Farm in Reedsville.

Transportation

Dulaney proposes to advance strategies to reroute heavy truck traffic around downtown and residential neighborhoods. To improve the bus system, Dulaney advocates prioritizing bus timing at traffic signals, HOV lanes along primary corridors, more bus shelters, and bus connections at both ends of the PRT.

User fee

Dulaney believes the user fee is a reasonable way to generate resources needed for long overdue safety and roadway improvements as long as the funds are spent in a timely and effective manner for their intended purpose.

What else

Believes the city should partner with governmental and nongovernmental entities to acquire homes converted to rental properties that become available for sale and transition them back to single-family ownership.


Kyle McAvoy

Fourteen-year Morgantown resident Kyle McAvoy, who works in the natural gas and coal industries, believes city council needs a commonsense and straightforward approach to the community’s challenges.

Transportation

McAvoy says he would work to correspond and coordinate with the Monongalia County Commission, Westover City Council, WVU, and other entities to help address the concerns of the city, including public transportation.

User fee

Believes the city should not end up with any surplus of funds and advocates making adjustments to the paving contract to address the amount of road repair that is accomplished during the paving season while the majority of WVU students are away.

What else

McAvoy believes the current city council has gotten bogged down in issues a city government shouldn’t be involved in, such as passing a ban on the concealed carry of firearms in municipal buildings without a plan in place for metal detectors or increased security.


Ward 6

Mark Brazaitis

The East Cleveland, Ohio, native is an English professor at WVU, where he has worked for 17 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard University and a master’s degree in creative writing from Bowling Green State University. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer and the author of seven books.

Transportation

Proposes the purchase of the Haymaker Forest, the 20-plus-acre woods behind the Circle K on Dorsey Avenue, as a link in what would be a green belt around Morgantown that would connect the rail-trails, White Park, Marilla Park, and points between.

User fee

Believes that taxes paid by companies located just outside town are paying for projects all over the state and not going where they belong—back into the community—and that the user fee could be eliminated if borders were extended and the tax base expanded.

What else

Advocates that Morgantown hire a grant writer, asserting that millions of dollars in grants could support projects such as public land purchases, enhancements in community theaters, innovations in community responses to drug abuse and crime, citing a few examples.


Jay Redmond (incumbent)

The Sixth Ward council representative since 2015, Jay Redmond is a lifelong resident of Morgantown who has had a 35-year career in communications, management, operations, and entrepreneurship. He graduated from WVU in 1977 and also earned a master’s degree from his alma mater. He has started and operated five businesses: The Chestnut Pub, Jay’s Daily Grind, Jay’s River Café, Jay’s Getaway, and Mundy’s Place.

Transportation

Believes the key to improving transportation is finding a way to link existing resources such as the rail-trail, Mountain Line, and the PRT together in a better way through improved roads and sidewalks that will serve the needs of cars, bicycles, and pedestrians concurrently.

User fee

Notes that he voted against the user fee because he prefers a more conservative approach. He would like WVU students to be included in the fee by defining them as workers as it relates to the ordinance, and also to reduce the fee from $3 to $1.50 per paycheck.

What else

Believes the execution of new trash and cable television franchise agreements will be important topics and that the city must push for greater flexibility and power in the negotiation and management of agreements with the state Public Service Commission.


Ward 7

William Graham

William Graham has lived in Morgantown for 20 years. The retired captain of the Morgantown Fire Department has been a member of the Firemen’s Pension Board as a fiduciary, responsible for the investment of more than $10 million in pension funds. He also served as president of the Morgantown International Association of Firefighters Local 313 for 15 years. Now he works in WVU’s Environmental Health & Safety Department as a hazardous materials technologist.

Transportation

Believes that to make streets as user-friendly as possible, there should be sidewalks, streets must be wide enough for the safe and fluid movement of vehicles, and road surfaces must be pothole-free. Also advocates asking large employers to stagger work shifts.

User fee

Believes the gains in public safety with the hiring of additional police officers will take years to see.

What else

Advocates for specific strategic long-range planning for the city, such as having a plan for additional streets to be paved and additional contractors identified so that the additional funds generated by the user fee will be spent efficiently.


Barry Lee Wendell

The Baltimore native has a degree from Johns Hopkins University and has worked in city and state government in Maryland and as a teacher in Los Angeles. He has served two years on WVU’s Commission for LGBTQ Equity, has been on the Morgantown Public Library board of directors since September, and teaches rock ’n’ roll history at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WVU.

Transportation

Wendell would like to see 24/7 public transportation in Morgantown, including the PRT, ideally with a mass transit rail loop to connect with shopping centers and hospitals and with park-and-ride lots at intersections with Interstates 79 and 68.

User fee

Believes that, while it’s unpopular, the user fee was necessary and the paving projects have made driving easier in many parts of the city.

What else

Wendell would like Morgantown to be known as an open and diverse city, so that its large Muslim community, as well as people of all faiths and no faith and from countries around the world, will feel welcome here. He believes this would make WVU more competitive when it comes to attracting both students and professors.

We welcome lively discussion and all opinions; toward that end, it is our policy to omit any and all comments that come to our attention containing abusive or personal attacks, or material that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, threatening, harassing, abusive, slanderous, or hateful.

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