The votes were tallied, and the New Castle Town Council has a new mayor and two new board members.
The new mayor is J.L. (Lenny) McDonald who will be replacing Bucky Johnson.
New Castle Town Council members are Thurman (Tommy) Zimmerman, Robert E. (Eddie) Lee, Robyn Foster and Karen Crush.
“I have been on the town council for three and a half years,” shared McDonald. “During that time, I realized what a treasure our little town is.”
McDonald noted that when the previous mayor, Johnson, announced his intentions of retiring, he assumed that Zimmerman would be the obvious choice for mayor since he was the vice mayor.
“However, Tommy came to me and asked that I consider running as he would not be, and I was shocked and honored that he would feel I could do the job,” McDonald shred. “Before putting my name forward though I wanted to talk to Bucky Johnson to see if he was willing to reconsider his decision and stay on.”
McDonald said that in their conversation, Johnson said that he had served and felt it was time to step away, but he also felt that McDonald would be a good choice for taking the mayoral role.
“Finally, I sought out our secretary, Nina Davis, as I wanted her opinion and I wanted to know if I did run would she be willing to stay on,” he added. “She stated that she would stay on and at that point, I knew that with their support that I would run.”
In being on the council in previous years, McDonald stated that what he learned most about New Castle was its history through the voices of the people who live there.
“I also learned a lot about how municipalities work and how their budgeting works in its own unique way,” he said.
McDonald said that the most important things on the future agenda to address as the new mayor would be to continue the progress that Johnson initiated.
“Our town’s park is set for some great upgrades over the coming year,” he said. “Also, the town and county have partnered in bringing a Farmers Market to Main Street. I want to be sure that we see that project through to its best possible outcome given the budgetary challenges.”
Going forward, McDonald did share that he would like to see a greater participation at the meetings from the community.
He added that he would like to see a greater transparency as well.
“We have the technology available to get the word out when our meetings are being held,” McDonald said. “I also believe that we should stream our meetings on the internet for those who are home bound or unable to attend so that they can be aware of our efforts to improve our town.”
Eddie Lee was newly elected this year as a council member.
“I returned to New Castle in November of 2014,” he shared. “I always wanted to be here in my retirement years.”
Lee was raised in the town of New Castle where his paternal grandfather, father and mother all served as Town Council members.
“My roots go much deeper than that as my great-great grandfather Elisha B. Wagener was the first county surveyor and helped map out Craig County when it was formed in 1851,” Lee added. “I hope that I can contribute something positive to our town.”
“I am slow to accept change and like things the ‘Old Fashioned Way,’” Lee said. “I hope this position isn’t a hinderance in serving on council.”
He also noted that he is not affiliated with any political party.
“I have great pride in my town, county, state and country,” Lee said. “I also have a strong love for history and am very proud of my 12 Craig County ancestors who served in the Army of Northern Virginia during our Second War for Independence (1861-65).”
Lee shared that his “only goal at present as a town council member is to keep the town of New Castle as much like it is as possible.”
“I thank all who showed faith in me and voted for me,” he said. “In addition, I would like to say, I am pleased to see the preservation of the older buildings downtown. My mindset might be stuck in the past, but I admit that progress can bring about positive changes and still preserve history.”
Foster shared, “As a newly elected New Castle Town Council member, I realize I am part of a team. Thanks to the voters for instilling their confidence in me. I look forward to serving starting in January 2023.”
The monthly meetings are held on the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall building. Those interested in getting involved may leave a message at (540) 864-2200 with any questions or connect with a council member via Facebook.
The community is encouraged to attend the meetings and support the council as well as give suggestions to the needs one sees or to offer volunteer support.