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Tharp, Stanley won't run again

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All seven seats will be up for grabs in November

By Tom Wilmoth

    Bedford Town Council will have at least two new members on it after November’s election because two current members of council have opted not to seek re-election.

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    Councilmen Skip Tharp and C.G. Stanley have announced they won’t be running for their current seats in the fall. Four years ago Stanley decided the current term would be his last and Tharp decided this week he would step aside.
    “It’s a natural time for me to step back and hopefully get some new folks to step forward,” Tharp said Tuesday of council getting reorganized with November’s election. “I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve made the decision after a lot of thought and prayerful consideration.”
    Because the town’s population grew by 5 percent with the new residents brought in from the county by Bedford’s reversion to town status, all council seats will be up for election in November. Three of those seats will be contested for four-year terms and four will be held as a special election for two-year terms. Mayor Robert Wandrei, Vice Mayor James Vest and Councilmen Robert Carson, Steve Rush and Stacey Hailey all plan to seek new terms on council. Those running will have to declare which seat they are running for—the four-year term or the two-year term.
    Tharp has served on council since 1992, including six years as mayor. “As my Mom used to say, ‘Enough is enough’,” Tharp said of his decision.
    While serving as mayor, Tharp guided Bedford through its reversion process with Bedford County, in which the city reverted back to a town. Tharp said initiating and implementing reversion  was the most important issue he wanted to see occur. He appreciated the confidence that the community, council and staff gave him in working through that prolonged process.
    “We got a fair deal; the county got a fair deal,” Tharp said of reversion. “The departments that were merged are running along smoothly.”
    Tharp said a conversation with then-Mayor Mike Shelton back in 1992 led him to seek a seat on council and that his time on council has allowed him to help “make some good things happen and do some public service.”
    Tharp had already been involved in community work, having helped raise some $1.6 million for the Bedford Public Library and $1.3 million for the National D-Day Foundation as its home-front chairman.
    “Local politics is my hobby,” he said, noting that it feels good to receive a call from a resident about an issue and be able to help get that issue fixed. “It’s been fun being able to make things happen.”
    He believes local government is the most effective form of government to work for the good of a  community. “It’s where the rubber meets the road as far as government is concerned,” he said.
    Tharp, 66, said he plans to use the free time he’ll have “to do the things I haven’t been able to do.”
    “I want to travel and enjoy and use the time allotted to me,” he said.
    He praised Town Manager Charles Kolakowski for keeping council “ahead of the curve” and prepared for changes that had to be made. “It’s been a joy working with him. He made our job easy,” Tharp said of Kolakowski.
    He also thanked the town staff, the community and council for the confidence they placed on him while he served on council.
    Stanley said he actually made the decision with his wife four years ago that 12 years of service on council would be enough.
    “Under normal conditions this year would have been the final year of my third term,” he said. The special election last year changed that, but the upcoming election will coincide with his original intentions.
    “It’s a good time to step down and let someone else run,” Stanley said. “I was in on the first stages of reversion and I wanted to see it completely through.”
    He believes both the county and town came out ahead with reversion.
    Stanley said he has enjoyed the opportunity to serve. “I’m just ready to move on and do something different,” he said. “I feel like I’ve done my time and it’s time for someone else to step up and give it a try. It’s not nearly as bad as some people think.”
    He added that his time on council has been rewarding. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with some very good councils.”
    He thanked the residents of Bedford for giving him the opportunity to serve on council.
    “I did my very best. I made decisions on what I thought was best for the community,” Stanley said.
    And he hopes there will be numerous people running for seats on council when elections are held. “You’ve got to care about the community and be willing to make a decision about issues.”
    For some on council, this will be their third council election in as many years. An election for some seats occurred in 2012 and, because of reversion, all council seats were up for election last May. Anyone wanting to run for the four-year terms must file by June 10; those running in the special election for the four, two-year terms have until Aug. 15 to file.