PARKERSBURG - A city council candidate who has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against city officials recently sought to drop out of the race, according to a city official.
City Clerk Connie Shaffer said District 5 Republican city council candidate Joe Backus came into her office around Sept. 17, stating he would like to withdraw from the race.
"He said he had his property up for sale and he might be moving," Shaffer said. "We called the county clerk and were told the ballot is already printed. So it's too late."
Deputy Wood County Clerk Melody Ross said city officials did call inquiring about withdrawing from the election.
Early voting for the November general election starts Oct. 24.
Backus did not returned several phone messages or emails from The News and Sentinel. However, he has answered candidate questionnaires from The News and Sentinel outlining his platform for the newspaper's upcoming coverage of candidates and the election. Backus made no mention of withdrawing from the race.
He is running against Democrat J.R. Carpenter. Carpenter declined to comment on Backus' attempted withdrawal.
"I would rather let the chips fall where they may," Carpenter said.
Greg Smith, chairman of the Wood County Republican Executive Committee, said he was unaware of Backus' attempt to withdraw from the race.
"I didn't hear about it," Smith said. "But, I am usually the last to hear about it."
"Obviously, it is too late for us to fill any vacancies on the ballot," Smith added.
Carpenter downplayed the role of the party in the campaign.
"The local race isn't about the party as it is about the people for the job. The party shouldn't be relevant to the local council race," Carpenter said.
Earlier this summer, Backus filed a lawsuit in Wood County Circuit Court accusing the city, Mayor Bob Newell and police Chief Joe Martin of violating privacy laws and the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution over background checks made of him.
Backus also accused Newell of defamation and libel and is seeking $12 million in damages. The suit has been moved to federal court.
In an August email to The News and Sentinel Backus stated he retained Charleston attorney Paul Stroebel to handle the lawsuit.