Newell keeps options open

PARKERSBURG – Although Mayor Bob Newell favors letting residents vote on whether to amend the city charter and remove the term limit on his office, he sees a silver lining in City Council’s vote against putting it on the ballot.

“I’m glad that there’s some finality, and I don’t even have to make that decision,” he said after Tuesday’s meeting, where the first reading of an ordinance to place the question on the Nov. 4 ballot was rejected 5-4.

Although Newell said he’d be lying if he claimed he wouldn’t have thought about running again, he reiterated Tuesday that there’s some freedom in serving as mayor without the possibility of another term on the table.

“You can run your agenda without people thinking you’re doing it to get re-elected,” he said.

Newell is the only mayor since the current charter was adopted in 1969 to be elected to three consecutive terms. During his executive message Tuesday, he said the decision on whether to remove the three-consecutive-term limit should be based on whether it was good for the city, not whether it would allow him, specifically, to serve longer.

Newell emphasized that he didn’t know what his plans would be in 2016, even if a fourth term was possible.

“I’m as interested in what goes on in Charleston as I am locally,” he said.

Newell noted that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin won’t be eligible to run again in 2016 because of term limits. While he added that he hoped an upcoming headline in the newspaper wouldn’t say “Newell looking at run for governor,” he said other statewide offices could open up if those individuals throw their hats into the gubernatorial ring.

“I just think there’s going to be a lot of opportunities in Charleston,” he said.

The mayor said some people have asked him about running for a statewide office and he’s at least thought about it. What he’s not interested in is seeking a legislative post or a seat on the Wood County Commission, other offices he’s been asked about.

“After you’re in an executive position, you don’t want to be one of three or one of 100 squabbling to get things done,” Newell said.

There’s also a good chance he won’t be on any ballot come 2016. Newell said his first grandchild is on the way and he could wind up “a baby-sitter in two-and-a-half years.”