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Member resigns from City Council

Craig Cunningham
Stajduhar

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston City Council will temporarily be a member short after West Side Republican Councilman Mike Stajduhar submitted his resignation Monday.

Stajduhar and his wife, Sally, will move later this month from near the Elk River in Charleston to near the Eel River in Logansport, Ind., to be closer to Sally's 86-year-old mother.

"It's a matter of what your family needs you to do," Stajduhar said earlier Monday.

His resignation will be effective Dec. 17.

Stajduhar represents Ward 7, which centers on Garrison Avenue and extends from Cato Park to the city's northern boundary. The ward also includes the blocks around Arlington Avenue along the Elk River.

For the Stajduhars, several recent events all pointed to a move west.

After Sally's aunt died in Logansport, her mother asked Sally and Mike if they would consider moving closer to her. On top of that development, the Stajduhars' oldest daughter, Ellie, who lives in Bloomington, Ind., recently gave birth to the couple's first grandson.

Stajduhar said he feels it's important to follow the fifth of the Ten Commandments -- "honor your father and your mother."

"You're meant to take care of your parents," he said.

Stajduhar said the couple plans to close on their new home in Indiana on Dec. 13. He said the one-story home is his "dream home."

"It's a 10-minute walk or less from my mother-in-law," he said.

Stajduhar said the couple wouldn't have considered moving had the family events not happened simultaneously.

"Charleston's where we raised our four children," he said. "It's been a great life in Charleston."

The couple's younger daughter, Anna, works at Kanawha Valley Senior Services, and their oldest son, Mick, also lives in Charleston. Their younger son, Evan, works in Texas.

They had planned to grow old in Charleston.

"We thought we would just move to Edgewood Summit," Stadjuhar said. "I was planning to be ward councilman when we moved to Edgewood Summit."

Stajduhar and his wife are both Midwesterners -- he's from Chicago and she's from Logansport -- so their new home's view of a cornfield and the Eel River won't be foreign to them.

Stajduhar spent his formative years in Wisconsin and went on to Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. It was there that he met his wife, who attended William Woods College in the same community.

"We met on a blind date my last semester in college and we married four months later," he said. "Things kind of happen really fast in my family."

Stajduhar's connection with Charleston began as a law student at Duke University, when he worked as an intern at the state Tax Department in the summer of 1974. After graduation, he took a full-time job with the department beginning in 1975.

The Stajduhars bought their Swarthmore Avenue home in 1978, which might make moving a bit more difficult, he said.

"There's 35 years of stuff accumulated we have to deal with," he said.

Stajduhar later worked at Kanawha Valley Bank, which became One Valley Bank, which became BB&T. He retired from the financial sector on Dec. 31, 2012, and since worked a slower-pace job in the rectory at St. Anthony Catholic Parish on Sixth Street, where he attends.

He said his church would be among the things he will miss.

"I really like my priest and my parish," he said.

Stajduhar has long been involved in West Side associations and other community organizations, serving as a ballot commissioner for the county and chairman of the Kanawha Republican Executive Committee.

He has also volunteered with United Way, served on the West Side Main Street board of directors and was president of the West Side Neighborhood Association.

His first foray into city politics was in 2007, when he ran for an at-large seat on city council, but didn't win.

He ran again in 2011 for the Ward 7 seat and won, with a goal to help the city address its pension obligations.

"It's been a great experience to be on city council. It's a really effective council," he said. "The departments have been really responsive to anything I've called about in the 7th ward."

As a councilman, he is part of council's Parks and Recreation and Urban Renewal committees, and is also vice-chairman of the Planning Committee.

"It's a place where you could really make a difference in your neighborhood," he said of being on council.

Stajduhar said he feels one of his biggest accomplishments was in 2011, when the Edgewood Summit retirement community was seeking to construct a new 40-bedroom facility near the end of Cornell Street.

However, residents in that area were opposed to the location of the development, and Stajduhar said he was able to help convey those concerns to Edgewood Summit officials to come up with a solution.

In the end, Edgewood Summit was able to build its new facility in a different nearby location, creating a win-win situation for the retirement community and for residents in the area.

"That's probably where I feel the greatest sense of accomplishment," Stajduhar said.

Stajduhar was also councilman during the fatal March 2012 house fire on Arlington Avenue, which is in his ward. At the time, the city was considering consolidating the fire station on Cora Street with another on the West Side. Stajduhar was against that proposal.

Over the years, Stajduhar said he's seen positive change take place on the West Side. He used the example of the 1500 block of Washington Street West, which he said was one of the worst in the city.

However, efforts by West Side Main Street and other city organizations have changed not just that block, but others in the neighborhood.

"That's just been totally changed over," he said.

Stajduhar added he's seen an increase in community events on the West Side, something that has helped move the neighborhood forward.

"I think the West Side is looking up somewhat," he said.

Stajduhar said he would remember his time on city council fondly. He praised the council for being efficient and for having members who care about the city.

"I have a great respect for all members of city council," he said.

The councilman attributed that efficiency of council to the system of committees the city government uses.

"I think the key to the success of this city council is the work done in committee," he said. "It's so organized ahead of time. You have to actively participate in committee."

The Stajduhars will physically leave Charleston on Dec. 18, the day after Mike's resignation becomes effective and two days after his last council meeting on Dec. 16.

Stajduhar said he'll still be available for residents in Ward 7 up to his departure. He's even working on an ongoing constituent issue now, he said.

"I'll be working up to the end, it looks like," he said.

To fill the coming vacancy, city code mandates that city council must appoint a qualified person to the position by a majority vote.

 Stajduhar said that though he's leaving, he'll have good memories of his time in Charleston.

"I was very fortunate to live in this community, and I think I'll feel the same about (Logansport)," he said.

Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Murphy@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817. Follow him on Twitter @DMLocalGov.


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