The first of two scheduled Town of Ronceverte mayoral forums was held on the evening of Monday, May 10. The event, which was co-sponsored by the Greenbrier County Chamber of Commerce and Radio Greenbrier, was held at the Clifford Community Center. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ashley Vickers served as moderator.
All four candidates participated in the forum; including Barbara Morgan, Deana Pack, Eric Mercer and Mark Mengle. The evening began with each candidate being allotted two-minutes for an opening statement.
Barbara Morgan, a lifelong resident of Ronceverte, took the opportunity to point out what an “exciting time it is for the Town of Ronceverte.”
Next to present their opening remarks was Deana Pack, who thanked “the citizens of Ronceverte for allowing me (Pack) to serve them on the City Council for the last three-years.”
Eric Mercer then provided his opening statement, saying, “I love Ronceverte, and I see what the condition of Ronceverte is right now. It’s time for someone to stand up for the people of Ronceverte and make it right.”
Mark Mengle then concluded the “opening statement” portion of the evening by saying, “I believe that the Mayor of Ronceverte becomes the face of Ronceverte – our representative.”
The current water situation was the first topic discussed, and each candidate weighed in with their thoughts.
“To fix up you have to mess up sometimes,” Morgan said. “Ronceverte has so much potential.”
I completely understand the frustration that the citizens of Ronceverte have been feeling,” Pack stated. “One of the first things I voted on as a member of the city council was for these projects.  Despite all the inconveniences that everybody is going through right now, the results are going to be great.”
Mercer then added, “I really sympathize with the citizens for the situation that we’ve been put through. I have spent some time with the workers, as I posted on my Facebook page. And the workers were really excited to have me stand there and know exactly what they are going through.”
“The current water system in Ronceverte dates back to, well, portions of it date back to 1900,” Mengle said. “Newer portions are not necessarily compatible. We are currently addressing a problem that began over 50-years ago. It’s understandable that things are falling apart.”
The next question asked was with regard to current water bills for residence, and the mayor’s role
in setting the prices for customers.
Pack was the first to answer, saying, “the mayor doesn’t have sole power to lower payments. That is an issue that is ultimately decided by the Public Service Commission in Charleston.  I think we all want to see lower water rates for our citizens”
Mercer seemed to disagree with Packs assessment of the mayor’s fiscal powers, stating, “It has to be a group of people, between the mayor and the city. I’ve spoken with the Public Utilities Commission in Charleston a few times, and they explained to me that the water rates are determined by the municipality of Ronceverte, not by them. They said that Ronceverte is the highest in the state.  As mayor, I would file for grants.”
“I’m on a fixed income, and I don’t appreciate the rates,” added Morgan. “But we’ve got to get it fixed, and that’s what we’re going to do.  We’re fixing it.”
The next question posed to the candidates was, “as mayor, how would you represent all citizens of Ronceverte?”
Mercer answered first.
“The first thing to do, would be to put out your hand and say ‘we’re glad to have you here’. You can be rich, you can be poor. You can be any color you want, because we’re all human.”
Mengle said, “As mayor, I would be available to anyone who had a question, a complaint, or any suggestions.”
“Anyone who knows me knows that all I want is to see Ronceverte prosper,” added Morgan. “I was on the Ronceverte council, and I’ve always done things for the town. As mayor, I wouldn’t be any different. I want the best for Ronceverte, for all of us. Not just some of us – all of us.”
Pack provided the final response to the question, saying, “Representation matters. We need to see lots of different people on city council, and in committees. Feeling like they are part of the community, and not just told what’s happening in Ronceverte – to actually feel involved.”
The next forum of the Ronceverte mayoral candidates will be co-sponsored by the Ronceverte Women’s Club and The West Virginia Daily News, and will take place on Tuesday, May 18 at 7:00 p.m. The next forum will also feature the five city council candidates.
Municipal elections for the Town of Ronceverte will take place on Tuesday, June 1. Early voting will take place from Wednesday, May 19 until Saturday, May 29.