Belmont County leaders not running in November

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Leaders of some Belmont County communities are not seeking re-election this Nov. 5, with most citing the desire to move on and let new officials take the lead.

Bethesda Mayor Martin Lucas is not running again after two full terms in office and the unfinished four-year term he completed prior to being elected. He was a councilman before serving as mayor.

“I’ve been involved with village government since 2004 and it’s just time to move on and pass it on to somebody else. I’d like to devote time to my family,” he said.

Lucas has been involved with many projects around the village, including upgrading water service and working with Murray Energy Corp. on collaborative projects, such as construction of the central memorial plaza. He also was mayor during the rebuilding of the police department following the paid leave and resignation of former police chief Eric Smith.

Lucas expressed his best wishes for the future of Bethesda, adding that he hopes the incoming mayor and council members keep the best interest of the village in their minds and work with residents.

Samantha Burkhead, Jordan Castello and Linda Reeves are running for the seat.

Stan Sobel also is not seeking re-election after his one term as mayor of Belmont.

“I’ve been mayor for four years. I am at a point in my age where I feel it’s best to step down for all the things that’s got to happen in this town, and that it’s just going to require younger blood to move forward,” he said. “And that’s what I want, for this town to move forward.”

He said he does not believe officials should remain in office for too long.

“I believe in term limits,” he said.

Sobel was a teacher and school board member in the Union Local School District before his mayoral run. He said the village budget has been stabilized and that he has worked toward obtaining a paving grant for some streets that have not been paved in 40 years. A new playground has been built, and he has worked with the Belmont County land bank toward taking down the dilapidated former school building. Belmont also has begun including a student member on village council.

Sobel said he has great confidence that Ron Woods, the sole candidate for mayor, will do an excellent job and continue to move forward on street paving and infrastructure improvement.

“Money from oil and gas helped, along with the good will of villagers,” Sobel said. “I’m happy to see people interested in government.”

Richland Township Trustee Greg Reline also is ready to move on.

“I’m in my eighth year of it, and I just kind of felt like it was time. … I’ve had a lot of good experiences out there. We’ve got a good road crew that we have, and we’re in the midst of this oil and gas and there’s an awful lot of activity going on,” he said. “We have a good board of trustees. We’re very financially stable. … Give someone else a chance.”

Reline said he is proud Richland Township has not had to place additional levies on residents.

In recent months, Reline and the other trustees have voiced opposition to proposed injections well that could potentially be located at the intersection of U.S. 40 and Ohio 331.

“I do kind of hate to walk away with the unknown of the injection well at this time because that’s been a passion of mine to do everything I can to see that it doesn’t come in out there,” he said.

Reline said he was proud to serve on the land bank board and commended Chairwoman Kathy Kelich’s leadership.

Gregory Clark, Thomas W. Costine, Carl Lehman and Todd W. Witchey are in the race for his seat.

Jeff Haught, mayor of Powhatan Point, also has chosen not to seek re-election but could not be reached for comment. No candidates have put themselves forward in the mayoral race.