COMMENTARY: Making a mockery of Morgantown’s election

By Dave Wilson

It seems there can’t be a municipal election in Morgantown without a self-inflicted and unnecessary controversy involving candidates for city council.

The actions of First Ward Candidate James Giuliani this week are just the latest in a string of episodes that have taken away from the city’s election process.

Ahead of the 2015 elections, city council members disregarded the Ward and Boundary Commission’s work to equalize the city’s seven wards after learning councilors Jenny Selin and Nancy Ganz would be placed in the same ward due to a boundary adjustment. Council redrew the boundaries itself, ensuring that Ganz and Selin remained in separate wards.

During the same election cycle, Bill Kawecki violated federal and state election laws when he sent an email out to all city employees, soliciting support and donations for a slate of city council candidates supported by “Morgantown Together.” Kawecki called it an “innocent mistake.”

In 2019, Aaron Metz forged 21 of the 75 signatures necessary to be on the municipal ballot. Metz eventually plead guilty to one felony count of falsely filing a certification of nomination.

Patrick Hathaway was the First Ward Candidate in 2021 and won the election. However, Hathaway failed to inform voters that he would not be able to take the seat on council because he would soon be moving away from West Virginia. The residents in the First Ward did not get the voice they voted for on council, rather city council later appointed Joe Abu-Ghannam to the seat.

This year, James Giuliani has made a mockery of the city’s election.

Guilinai called me on Tuesday and informed me that he was dropping out of the race. He cited the negativity around the campaign and claimed that current members of city council refused to work with him if elected. He went as far as to say:

“Morgantown does not deserve me.”

I agreed to give him a few minutes on Wednesday’s edition of “Talk of the Town” to explain his decision to voters. During the interview, Giuliani said that he’d been misunderstood, that he was still in the race, but no longer actively campaigning. He still asked for voter support but remained non-committal about whether or not he would actually take a seat on city council if he won the election.

“If I don’t have that help then I may have to make a decision before I would take office July 1st, that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my mission and my role on council.

He continued:

“I said I can work with anyone, these people can’t work with me.”

Then on Thursday, Giuliani filed his official notice of withdrawal from the race. However, it’s well passed the deadline to officially withdraw from the race and his name remains on the ballot.

Giuliani’s antics have left voters in a lurch with no viable challenger to incumbent Joe Abu-Ghannam and made a mockery of the city election.

He’s right, Morgantown does not deserve him.