McDaniel to lead village for next 4 years

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 5, 2003

COAL GROVE - Much like a horse race down the final stretch,

the finish in Coal Grove's mayoral race was almost too close to call.

With 426 votes, challenger Larry McDaniel edged incumbent Tom McKnight by just 27 of the 882 votes cast. Current council member Kenneth Pyles received 56 votes.

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A Coal Grove resident for the past 26 years, McDaniel has worked for Sunoco Chemical in Kenova, W.Va., for nearly 30 years and hopes to bring that sense of long-term commitment to the village government.

McDaniel, 51, will take office Jan. 1. With nearly 15 years experience on the village council, he said he is confident he can lead the village towards a bright future.

After the initial shock of winning the close race wore off.

"It took a few minutes to sink in," he said. "I had a good feeling going into the polls from just getting out and talking to the people and going door to door."

He said he appreciated all his supporters who helped make the victory possible.

McDaniel said his first step will be to encourage more communication and openness between council, the mayor and the community.

"I just want to be available. People can call me on the phone, they can come by the house," he said. "I will listen to their problems and try to work them out."

His top priority will be to solve the villages' financial problems.

"I think we are going to have to really crunch some figures on our billing," he said. "We need to make sure our figures are correct and do some book work to line it out."

Because McDaniel was a council member with an unexpired term, council will have 30 days from the time he takes office to appoint a replacement. If they do not do so, McDaniel can appoint someone.

McKnight had served as mayor for 19 years. He served from 1976 to 1990 but resigned because of family issues. In 1999, he was reelected. He did not return several messages seeking comment.

Pyles, 48, a stationary steam engineer for King's Daughters Medical Center, is in the second year of his first term of council and said he can't wait to get to work with the new mayor and council despite the loss.

"I don't feel bad because I was being honest with the voters," Pyles said. "The issues are still there and need to be dealt with."

Overall, Pyles said he is not upset or disappointed with the outcome.

"It is still about the people of Coal Grove. It was never about me," he said. "It was a good experience. I will stay positive about this. I am a little ashamed of the score but I am proud to live in a democracy where people can vote."

Pyles said he thinks that council was strengthened with the addition of Nick Miller.