Two vie for Ward 4 seat in Georgetown

GEORGETOWN — Georgetown’s Ward 4 Town Council seat looms as the only contested race in the town’s Aug. 15 election, with incumbent Councilman Bob Holston and challenger Penuel Barrett the candidates.

Mr. Barrett cited his longtime involvement as a firefighter as one reason he is seeking office.

“I am a concerned citizen for the town of Georgetown,” said Mr. Barrett, a 24-year member of the Georgetown Fire Co. “I think someone from the emergency services side should be on the Town Council, just to know the ins and outs of the emergency service that we have here in town.
Councilman Holston hopes to continue to serve on council.

“I am retired, and I have time to volunteer,” he said. “I love the military, and I love the blue (police). I support both. If you don’t like them, then you don’t like me.”

Ward 4 covers south of West Market Street and west of South Bedford Street. It encompasses Cinderberry Estates, the Village of Cinderberry, The Oaks at Georgetown and other residential and commercial areas.

Two other elected positions in Georgetown are uncontested. Mayor Bill West is unchallenged. So is Angela Townsend, who will return to council (she served previously from 2002-05) by succeeding Chris Lecates as the Ward 3 councilmember. Ms. Lecates did not seek another term.

The town’s 2020 election was moved from May 9 to the August date due to the coronavirus pandemic and Gov. John Carney’s state of emergency.
Voting Aug. 15 is from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Town Hall on The Circle.
Terms for council and mayor are two years.

Barrett: the challenger
Mr. Barrett, 46, is married with three sons. He is general sales manager at 1st State Chevy in Georgetown, where he has been employed for 15 years.
An officer in the Georgetown Fire Co. for 17 years, Mr. Barrett has served as a Georgetown Little League board member for nearly 20 years, including five years as its president. He has been on the town Planning Commission the last three years.

He pegs public safety and overcrowding among the more pressing issues.
“We went around like 15 years ago house to house to put smoke detectors up for people just voluntarily. We did that for the fire department. We knew we had an overcrowding problem back then. Now, I mean, of course, being in the fire department, you go into a lot of different houses, and you still see problems,” said Mr. Barrett. “Once COVID hit, of course, it went crazy in Georgetown because we’ve got an overcrowding problem. That is something I think I can assist with.”

Mr. Barrett said the Georgetown Fire Co. runs close to 3,000 ambulance calls a year in town. “We’re not fortunate because the nearest hospital is 15 miles, west, east or north,” Mr. Barrett said. “Fire calls were right around 600 a year. … I just think I can bring a lot to the table, new ideas. I think the mayor has done a great job, but I think I could definitely help him out in some certain areas.

“The new budget was just passed,” said Mr. Barrett. “I think I could help them out with some of the strategies maybe on some of the things that they are doing here in town.”

He says business could use a boost. “New businesses in town, it seems like they have a hard time bringing their business to Georgetown. That is something that I kind of want to work on and help,” Mr. Barrett said. “I think I know a lot about the town of Georgetown as far as being in the fire service and being on the Planning Commission, getting to see all the plans that come across the table. I can definitely help them out there.”

Referring to a sidewalk proposal that drew heavy opposition from Ward 4 citizens, Mr. Barrett said he “would definitely be a voice for them … that I don’t think that we have right this minute.”

Holston: the incumbent
A native of Chincoteague, Virginia, Councilman Holston, 73, retired from the Wallops Island facility where he worked for Northrop Grumman and as a government contract employee for NASA. He is also retired from the Army Reserves.

“I know I wasn’t born and raised here, but Chincoteague is a lot like Sussex County,” said Councilman Holston. “I’m a Sussex Countian at heart.”
Mr. Holston joined council in 2016, through appointment by council to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of David Anderson.

He said the council works well with town administration and Mayor West.
“One thing we try to do, and I believe in it, is keep the taxes down. People don’t want taxes. But they will go up eventually because everything goes up,” said Councilman Holston. “I support the mayor. The three (council) people that are in there now with me, we work good together, let’s put it that way. I just want to do good for the community.”

Councilman Holston said the effort is to keep everything going, keep debt down and taxes down, and “having a safe place to live, which I think Georgetown is a pretty safe place to live. We’ve got a pretty good police force. And we’ve got a real good chief and town manager.

“Bill West, he loves Georgetown just like I do. We try to do all we can good for it,” the councilman said. “It doesn’t always work out that way. People sometimes misinterpret things. You are regulated by, of course, the governor and upstate. Things we’d like to do, you can’t. I’ve learned a lot in my four years. I found out you can’t do just what you want to do.”

Councilman Holston, who has not been challenged in earlier reelection bids, welcomes the election.

“I love the democratic way, because I like for the people to choose who they want,” he said. “We’ll find out, one way or the other. If it’s him, it’s him. If it’s me, it’s me. I think I am the best person.”

Penuel Barrett
Bob Holston