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Parkersburg City Council committee makeup raises questions

Carpenter, Tuck not on three charter panels

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg City Council President Zach Stanley defended the committee assignments he made for 2022 this week after a resident questioned why two council members were not on any of the major committees established by the municipal charter.

During the public forum at Tuesday’s council meeting, Parkersburg resident Kim van Rijn pointed out that Councilwoman Wendy Tuck and Councilman J.R. Carpenter weren’t on the Finance, Personnel or Public Works committees, which are outlined in the charter and where some ordinances that fall under their purview are discussed before being referred to the full council or rejected.

Tuck, in her second year on council, represents District 4, and Carpenter, in his third term, serves District 5.

As a resident of District 4 whose residence wound up in District 5 after lines were redrawn in the wake of the 2020 census, van Rijn said she was “a little dismayed” that neither Tuck nor Carpenter was on one of the main three committees.

“I feel very unrepresented and shut out,” she said.

Stanley did not answer during the meeting, as council members do not engage in discussion during the public forum. Contacted this week, he said he selected the committee rosters “based on what I think (would) be right for those committees.”

One thing he said he wanted to do was give council members experience on different committees. He noted the Finance Committee, which he chairs, had three veteran council member including Carpenter last year and two newcomers, including Tuck. It has the same makeup this year, with Stanley, Councilwoman Sharon Kuhl and Councilman Mike Reynolds serving with second-year Councilmen Chris Rexroad and Austin Richards.

The council president also names members to the Stormwater and Public Service committees and to serve as representatives on various boards. Both Carpenter and Tuck were appointed to the Stormwater Committee, he said, adding that stormwater is expected to be a major issue for the city this year.

Carpenter said he had no issue with the committee rosters and members can still participate in discussions even when they aren’t a member of a committee.

“Putting the committees together is 100 percent the choice of the president,” he said.

“I don’t think it was even in his mind that everyone’s a Republican and no one’s a Democrat,” Carpenter added.

He noted he and Tuck are the only Democrats on the nine-member council.

“I don’t know what (affiliation) everybody is. I don’t care,” Stanley said. “I don’t look at things Republican and Democrat. I don’t think council should be a partisan office.”

Tuck said she’s “never, ever felt that it was a Democrat or Republican council,” but the makeup of the “decision-making” committees still raised questions in her mind.

“I don’t think it was intentional, but it did raise some concerns because I had been on two of them last year,” she said. “It was a very unfortunate move on his (Stanley’s) part, I think.”

Tuck attended the Jan. 20 meeting of the Finance Committee where budget revisions council were discussed and referred to the full council for Tuesday’s agenda.

“Not having a vote on that committee … there’s no place to kind of flesh things out or add more information,” she said. “If the chairman recognizes you, you can talk.”

Stanley said members don’t have to wait until a committee meeting to ask questions of fellow council members or city officials.

And when an ordinance or resolution reaches the full council, “she gets the same vote as everybody else gets,” he said.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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Committee Appointments

* Finance Committee: Zach Stanley, chairman; Chris Rexroad, vice chairman; Sharon Kuhl, Mike Reynolds, Austin Richards.

* Personnel Committee: Kuhl, chairwoman; Bob Mercer, vice chairman; Jesse Cottrille, Rexroad, Richards.

* Public Works Committee: Richards, chairman; Rexroad, vice chairman; Kuhl, Mercer, Reynolds.

* Stormwater Committee: Reynolds, chairman; J.R. Carpenter, Cottrille, Rexroad, Wendy Tuck.

* Community Service Committee: Kuhl, chairwoman; Carpenter, Cottrille, Mercer, Tuck.

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Other Appointments

* Urban Renewal Authority: Kuhl, chairwoman; Mercer, vice chairman.

* Wood County Economic Development Authority: Stanley.

* Municipal Planning Commission: Kuhl.

* Municipal Tree Commission: Reynolds.

* Holiday in the Park: Mercer.

* Downtown PKB: Stanley.

* Bicycle Committee: Tuck.

* Central Downtown Business District Design and Facade Committee: Carpenter.

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