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Bridgeport keeps council unchanged

by Jeff Toquinto

BRIDGEPORT NEWS EDITOR

Despite sparse voter turnout, more than enough Bridgeport residents found their way to the polls to keep the face of their city council the same.

Only 10 percent of the city's 5,417 registered voters cast a ballot Tuesday. Those who went, voted to keep the three incumbents whose seats were up for election on city council.

Harry M. "Hank" Murray was the top vote-getter with 414 votes. Ruth J. Allen was second with 346 votes, while John L. Westfall was right behind her with 340.

The trio finished first, second and third in five of the nine precincts.

The three were challenged by Ronald D. Hedrick. Hedrick, in his first bid for an elected office, finished with 272 votes.

Mayor Joe Timms was also re-elected. He was unopposed.

Timms finished with 460 votes. The total allows Timms to begin his second four-year stint as the city's mayor.

Allen, who will begin her third four-year term on council, is looking to continue her work on the city's downtown revitalization. She's hopeful it will be complete by the time the upcoming term is complete.

"I want to see the Main Street project implemented and finished," said Allen, who arrived at City Hall just as the vote totals were being announced. "There's really just so many things going on right now that it's exciting to be on board with the city government."

For Westfall, who will start his fourth term on the city's governing body, he plans to use his term to foster regional cooperation. Westfall said it's imperative that the city councils of all Harrison County communities work together to enhance the economy of the entire region.

"My primary thing that I want to be involved with is economic development," said Westfall. "To have positive economic development, the goal is to get everyone on the same page, particularly Clarksburg and Bridgeport."

Westfall plans on meeting with individual members of Clarksburg City Council, as well as other councils county-wide, to improve relationships among municipalities.

Tuesday's election tally was complete before 9 p.m. The last precinct totals arrived at Bridgeport City Hall by 8:20 p.m.

The election totals were down from the last election in 1999. Although the '99 election had a hotly contested race for the position of mayor, City Clerk Judy Lawson said only 12 percent of the city's registered voters made it to the poll that year.

Tuesday's election results will be official following a canvass set for Monday. Lawson said she expects the canvass to be uneventful, with only a few challenged ballots.

"It shouldn't make a difference in the outcome," said Lawson.

Murray was unavailable for comment Tuesday evening. Murray was appointed to council and won by a comfortable margin in his first election attempt.

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