Wagner says she won't seek re-election
Two seats at city hall will be open and undefended come May as one member of Connellsville City Council challenges the mayor and another bows out of the political limelight.
Bruce Jaynes, director of accounts and finances, will seek Mayor Judy Reed's office during this year's primary municipal election. Following his announcement last week, Councilwoman Chris Wagner pledged to support Jaynes' mayoral candidacy, but will not campaign for a second term on council.
"I just feel that after four years, I've done as much as I possibly could," Wagner said. "I very much enjoyed my time on council. I had some ups and downs, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed the experience."
Wagner will finish her fourth year as director of parks and recreation next year. By giving up her council seat, Wagner said it will give her more time to concentrate on her position as executive director of the Greater Connellsville Chamber of Commerce.
"A lot of good things, and a few not-so-good things, happened during my time on council," she said. "I think I did quite well, though. We addressed the initiatives that needed addressed, but there is always something that needs improvement."
Jaynes and Wagner entered city politics together in 2001 when they each won seats on council. Since then, the two have often voted along the same platform.
"I will miss her presence on council," Jaynes said. "(Wagner) is really a good colleague to work with. She is always willing to listen -- agree or disagree -- and she is good enough to meet in the middle. It's hard to find folks like that."
Reed, who was elected mayor when Jaynes and Wagner took their council seats, often opposed the pair along voting lines. The three have argued bitterly at times. However, the mayor said last week she will "absolutely" run for another term and was glad to hear Jaynes entered the race.
As for Wagner's decision not to run again, Reed said she hopes the city will elect a capable replacement.
"There are many meetings to attend and a lot of responsibilities," she said. "The voters need someone who will put aside some time and priorities, and work on behalf of the city. There are a lot of contentious issues, and they take a toll."
Wagner moved from president of the Greater Connellsville Chamber of Commerce to executive director -- a position she held for several years nearly a decade ago -- after resigning in July as director of The State Theatre Center for the Arts in Uniontown.
"I'm pleased to have a position with the chamber in my hometown," she said. "I'm ready to settle into one job."
As for her role in Jaynes' campaign for mayor, Wagner said she will help him any way she is able.
"When I found out he was running, I let him know that I would be willing to help if he needed any assistance," she said. "(Jaynes) and I came into office together not really knowing each other very well, but we became friends."
Jaynes said Wagner will not hold a formal position within his campaign, but he welcomes her support.
"A lot of the tasks -- knocking on doors and raising funds -- I do on my own," he said, "but closer to the election I will have a group of supporters helping me and she will definitely be a part of that effort."
Jaynes outlined a short, three-point plan to start his campaign that included working with council and city organizations to bring economic development into the city, improving communication among city council and city departments, and fostering fiscal responsible with city funds.
"Anyone who wants to move this city forward will embrace all three of those ideas," he said.
Although her official announcement and platform is not ready for public release, Reed said she will continue working to revitalize city neighborhoods.
"I want to bring the town back to a safe, healthy condition," she said. "We need to make sure our neighborhoods are in order."
Jaynes and Reed, both Democrats, will contend during the municipal primary May 17. The municipal general election will be held Nov. 8. No other candidates have come forward at this early stage.
The staggered terms of Councilmen Brad Geyer and Charles Matthews will leave the other two seats on council filled until the 2008 municipal election. Both are serving four-year terms.