Texas fugitive from justice-turned-mayor of W.Va. town loses re-election bid

Texas fugitive from justice-turned-mayor of W.Va. town loses re-election bid

A man with outstanding arrest warrant in Texas who successfully ran for as mayor of Buckhannon, W.Va., was unable to fool the people twice. Richard Edwards — who ran under a cloud that in addition to the arrest warrant included alleged misuse of a city gas card and two unverified college degrees — lost his bid for re-election on Tuesday. He is still, however, on the city payroll.

In a statement, Edwards said, who garnered only 15% of the vote and finished third in a four-way contest, said:

It was an honor and privilege to serve our city for 18 months as mayor. It has been a great experience and I have enjoyed every moment.

Dave McCauley, who had served as city attorney for some 30 years before being forced out by Edwards, was elected mayor.

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“Voters overwhelmingly corrected the mistakes of the past and purged city government of a key city official who has been unable to answer truthfully questions asked about his work, education and legal histories,” said David Taylor, a retired law-enforcement officer and native of Buckhannon, a city of about 5,600 people 115 miles northeast of Charleston.

Edwards vowed to continue on as city recorder; he was elected to a four-year term in 2014. The position pays $9,000 a year.

As mayor, Edwards collected that salary, plus a $22,200 mayoral paycheck.

“There is anticipation he will resign the recorder’s position,” McCauley told Watchdog.org on Wednesday. “There’s also been discussion about forcing his hand, but that won’t be unilaterally my decision.”

It is unclear if the City Council has the authority to remove Edwards in the absence of a conviction. West Virginia State Police and the state Ethics Commission are investigating Edwards’ alleged misuse of a city gas card and other activities during his tenure.

According to the Buckhannon charter:

Whenever the mayor is unable because of illness or absence from the municipality to perform the duties of his office, and during any vacancy in the office of mayor, the recorder shall perform the duties of the mayor and be invested with all of his power and authority.

Watchdog reported in March that Edwards was cited by the Alamo Area Narcotics Task Force for possession of marijuana and grow house paraphernalia in San Antonio in 2001. With charges pending, Edwards hit the road, landing in Buckhannon.

Bexar County, Texas, District Attorney Nico LaHood said his office did not pursue extradition because of the small amount of drugs involved. He said charges would be pressed if Edwards returned to Texas.

Edwards said he had no intention of coming back.

Read more by Kenric Ward at Watchdog.com.

Kenric Ward

Kenric Ward

Kenric Ward is a national correspondent and writes for the Texas Bureau of Watchdog.org. Formerly a reporter and editor at two Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers, Kenric has won dozens of state and national news awards for investigative articles. His most recent book is “Saints in Babylon: Mormons and Las Vegas.”


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