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Election 2010 All Quiet on the Southern Front

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September 30, 2010 by wcobserver

By Susan McCarthy

susan@wcobserver.com

Six city council positions and the mayor’s job are up for grabs in Winslow on Nov. 2.  Funny thing, though; all of the candidates are running unopposed.  It’s not a fluke, it’s Winslow.

“To my knowledge, no one has ever run against anybody,” said 16-year council member, Barbara Ashbaugh, speaking of the elections since she’s been on the council.

Ashbaugh’s sixteen years are just par for the course; city officials including the mayor, the city clerk/treasurer and five council members have a combined 125 years of service to the city of Winslow.  The city only celebrated its centennial in 2005.

“If somebody is unhappy with the job we’re doing, there would be another name on the ballot,” said Mayor Randy Jarnagan, who is entering his seventh year as leader of his town of 399 citizens.

“I honestly didn’t know until now whether anyone was running against any of us,” said Jarnagan in an interview on Monday.

Winslow is served by Velma Duncan who has spent 26 years on Winslow’s city council, Barbara Ashbaugh, with 16 years, Leta McGuire, 14 years, Marsha Cooley, 10 years, and Diane Rickman with six years.  Mary Bromley has served in her role as city clerk/treasurer for 28 years. Mayor Randy Jarnagan served on the council for 19 years before he was appointed Mayor in July, 2004.  He replaced a Mayor, his uncle, Larry Paul a.k.a “Tiny” Jarnagan, that had served 25 years.

In a town of 399, you might get the idea that many of these folks are related but Jarnagan says that with the exception of Leta McGuire and Marsha Cooley, who are sisters, the rest of the city brass is not related, not even by marriage.

One newcomer has stepped forward, but his name won’t appear on the ballot because he is running unopposed.  In fact, none of the council members will appear on the ballot.

“The law changed this year so that uncontested municipal officials, with the exception of Mayor, won’t have to appear on the ballot,” said Jennifer Price, Election Coordinator for Washington County.

Charles, “Chuck” Patrick has stepped forward to fill the seat vacated in the unexpected death of Don Clark, who served on Winslow’s city council for 29 years. He says he’s not related to anyone at city hall, either.

Patrick grew up in Winslow, but lived in Prairie Grove for 20 years before moving back several years ago for a slower pace.

Patrick, who says he’s a fan of small-town life, said, “I knew the council had done a good job.  I just hope I could be an asset and stepped up to help a little.”

“It will be a new experience for me,” he added.

Winslow council members are stewards of roughly a $230,000 operating budget and about a $280,000 water budget.  Jarnagan says the city will see fewer tax dollars in the coming year, but says the city has still been able to complete the projects citizens of Winslow have asked them to do in these tougher economic times.

“We even have a few dollars to put back in the bank,” Jarnagan said.  “We don’t have a whole lot.  We’re proud of what we do have and want to maintain that.”

Leta McGuire, who has served on the city council for 14 years and owns Winslow’s longest operating business, said, “The city council feels like we need to hold our community together.”

“We are here because it (Winslow) is like it is,” said Ashbaugh.  We never wanted to be a whole lot bigger or more progressive.”

She and Jarnagan both said one of the toughest things the town has had to overcome in recent years is the loss of their school when it was consolidated and absorbed by the Greenland School District.

But even with the loss of the town’s school, community spirit is more than talk in Winslow where the town sponsors one of the area’s only fireworks displays on the Fourth of July, a Christmas parade and WinFest.

“Even the churches work together; the Labor Day Picnic is evidence of that,” said Beth Hesser of Winslow, who was getting her hair done at Leta’s Beauty Shop last Friday.

McGuire says the city just needs “to keep things going.”  She cites the city’s water service and street upkeep as two of the areas the council works hard to maintain.

“We try to stay ahead, so we don’t get behind,” said Jarnagan.

Patrick says he thinks the City of Winslow has done a good job taking care of problems as they arise.  Apparently, the voters in Winslow agree.

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