Councilmembers choose Bill O'brien to finish Emmett Pugh's term

Local - 1/2/2014 10:51 PM by Karen Franklin

BECKLEY - It was over as soon as it began. After one round, four of six councilmembers voted for Bill O’brien to take the place of Emmett Pugh as Mayor of the City of Beckley.

“I don't think it's hit,” O’brien told WOAY. “I really expected that this would go longer than 30 seconds, so I'm surprised and obviously very pleased.”

Sitting by his side was his wife of more than 40 years. The couple shared a warm embrace after the decision. His new councilmen had kind words to say.

 “I was looking for somebody who wasn't on the board,” Tom Sopher said. “I thought that might draw us closer together. I felt as if there was a division in council, and maybe somebody from outside council coming to replace Pughs' position may serve Beckley a lot better.”

Ann Worley talked about why she thinks he’ll succeed.

“He's a people person,” she said. “He's well known in the community, and I think he has good leadership skills. He's on board with the comprehensive plan, which is something I'm very passionate about.”

Worley publicly announced her candidacy but withdrew from the race at the start of the meeting.

“There's so many scenarios that could have played out tonight, and so through the months I had been in my mind going over the different scenarios that could happen, so basically it was pretty last minute,” Worley said.

O’brien is a radio personality and the former owner of WJLS. Now he's making the move from broadcast to public office.

“I was able to handle budgets,” O’brien said. “I made budget every year without fail, made paydays twice a month without fail, so I know how to handle people and budgets, and even though this is a larger operation than what I dealt with in broadcasting, we'll use the same principles.”

O’brien will finish out Pugh's term through June of 2016. The former mayor officially resigned Wednesday after allegations he violated the code of ethics. Pugh has never admitted to wrongdoing and the ethics committee has discontinued the investigation, according to the city attorney.

“I think the ethics question is one that should not be part of his legacy,” O’brien said. “I think people should look at what's been accomplished over the last 25 years.”

O’brien looks forward to working as a team after he’s sworn in Friday.


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