Citizens launch effort to recall entire Morgantown city council

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A group of Morgantown residents are very concerned about the direction of the city and are mounting a recall petition for all seven city council members. On WAJR’s “Talk of the Town,” organizer Todd Stainbrook said current policies are sinking morale across all city departments including police and fire.

“I have people reach out to me everyday within the city, within the workings of the city and I’m hearing more and more about the corruption within our city,” Stainbrook said.

The group also wants municipal elections to be aligned with the general election. Morgantown Municipal elections are currently held on the last Tuesday of April and the group believes the move would increase voter turnout. In the April 2021 municipal election 7.8 percent of registered voters cast a ballot.

The group also wants to change term limits. In the April 2021 election voters approved a change for the terms of service for city council members. By a vote of 945 to 495 voters approved a referendum that will change city council terms from 2-year concurrent terms to 4-year staggered terms. Some of the benefits of a staggered four-year term are stability, is consistent with West Virginia’s larger cities, and elections are still held every two years, sometimes electing a majority of city council.

“Petitions for changing the election date to the general election and we also have a petition for term limits that we would like to have signed as well,” Stainbrook said. ” These are things that need to be done and maybe people will get out to vote.”

Stainbrook cited strong opposition from the public regarding new personnel rules limiting sick time, overtime and paid time off for some city workers including police and fire.

He also cited his frustration with the council opposition to the Big Guns store that is proposed on University Avenue. Stainbrook believes the council members would do something “behind closed doors” to prevent the business from opening.

“Day by day the city administration is waking people up,” Stainbrook said. “By us letting people know what’s gong as well will wake people up,” Stainbrook said.

The new personnel rules come after multiple legal disputes between the city and the Monongalia-Preston Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 87 and International Association of Fifighters Local 313.

Police battled with the city regarding the proposed Special Committee on Community Policing and Citizen Review Board. A Monongalia County Circuit Court judge reduced the investigative authority of the board because it was in conflict with state civil service code. Firefighters were locked in a two year battle with the city over holiday backpay and lost. That also included an allegation by firefighters the city was retaliating against them because of the lawsuit.

“We have to do something now! We have 56 police officers right now and 20 to 25 of those are actively seeking employment elsewhere and if they get a job within a year wehat do we do?” Stainbrook asked. “And that’s not including what’s going on with the fire department- we can’t wait.

Stainbrook did not reveal a source or provide material proof, but he said evidence of the allegations will come out in time.

“To be honest with you, all seven city council members should resign because they don’t want this stuff coming out,” Stainbrook said. “So, if they resign it won’t happen, but if they don’t it’s all going to come out.”

The group will hold a drive-in petition drive at the Burger King at 340 Patteson Drive beginning at 8 a.m. According to Stainbrook, the group will be at the event for “as long as it takes.”