BUCKHANNON – Former mayor David McCauley was sworn in as a Buckhannon City Council member, alongside city recorder Randy Sanders, Friday at City Hall.
Incumbent city council member Dave Thomas, McCauley and Sanders were all sworn in July 1. Thomas was sworn in earlier in the day due to a scheduling conflict.
Mayor Robbie Skinner said the swearing in of council members is one of his favorite events of being mayor.
“One of the things that is certainly at the top of the list of joyous occasions is when we get to administer the oath of office to somebody new, coming on to our city council and folding into the family,” Skinner said. “In this case, this gentleman is no stranger to this organization or this building or this family, so we’re just happy to welcome him back to the team officially, although it didn’t seem like he was ever really gone from the team.”
Skinner said McCauley made sure to keep the community up to date on all the city’s projects and stayed particularly active with the Stockert Youth & Community Center.
“We sincerely thank you for everything that you’ve done for the city up into this point, what you continue to do in the past two years, and we’re looking forward to what you can bring to the table as part of the team and the next several years to come, so welcome back,” Skinner said.
McCauley said it felt like he never really left City Hall and the various projects he spearheaded during his time as mayor.
“Much like my monkeys (grandchildren) and my own kids, some of the projects that we started during my time as mayor and even before that, I see as my ‘project babies’ — things like the Colonial Theatre and the Stockert Youth Center addition building project — there are some pretty cool things over here and you guys should all take a peek at that,” McCauley said. “The Traders Alley project, the renovations to the Public Safety Complex — all of those things mean a great deal to me and that will continue to be my focus.”
McCauley also complimented the projects the city started after he was no longer in office.
“I advocated for many years about a street waste garage, and it turned out that the property became available right across from the old waste facility, and that’s been a tremendous acquisition,” McCauley said. “The advancement of the Madison Street project with drawings going on down there to embellish Jawbone Park even further is just a great idea and I’d be remiss if I didn’t observe Randy Sanders … I always thought coming here almost 40 years ago, that Buckhannon was going to be that place ultimately, that would have some big things happen here, in a good way.”
He credited Sanders with securing the 2023 World Association of Marching Show Bands to take place in Buckhannon.
“Those final five or six cities included places like Moscow, Russia, Dallas, Texas, places and we beat those places out to have this World Association of Marching Show Bands, and that is enormous,” McCauley said. “I’m going to be helping Robbie, Randy and Jerry Arnold’s crews to get ready for that event because we have a chance to be not just the focus statewide or a regional focus, or even in the national [spotlight] — this is an international focus opportunity.”
As the attorney for West Virginia Wesleyan College, McCauley said he also looks forward to seeing the relationship between the City of Buckhannon and West Virginia Wesleyan College blossom.
“I don’t want to talk about the previous days at Wesleyan as much as the 134 days that we’ve now had with our new administration, with James Moore,” McCauley said. “Feb. 17 was a turning point for our college and for our town-and-gown relations and as I have said, ever since I arrived – and I took my first two real jobs when Wesleyan is doing well, the city is doing better – and when the city is doing well, Wesleyan does better, so we have to continue to nurture the recent format, formalizing the college’s partnership with the city with the Colonial [Arts Center] project — that’s just off the charts stupendous.”
McCauley also restated his intentions to collaborate with every group in the community.
“Everybody knows about my affinity for the folks that aren’t all Methodist or Baptist; Daya Wright and I collaborated to do the lighting of the Menorah every year come Hanukkah time, and everyone knows how I’ve tried to advance the cause of the LGBTQ community, which I have promised I will continue to do,” McCauley said. “Everyone should have a seat at our table; we have a big table with the opportunity to put many leaves in that big table. We want everyone engaged in all those various subsets of our society, and the more we can involve everyone in what we do here recreationally, business-wise, and in decision-making, on all fronts [the better], I remain firmly committed to that.”
Skinner said he hopes Sanders will remain city recorder for a long time and continue to make Buckhannon look its best.
“He does a fantastic job in this city and is really the glue that holds the council together; that’s not me, it is Randy. Randy thinks of all of the details, Randy thinks of the big projects but also doesn’t forget about little projects either,” Skinner said. “Randy keeps us in line by driving the narrative that we need to continue to move the community forward with preparing for large events, small events, and he’s credited with leaving no stone unturned here to make this community look the best that it’s looked in quite some time.”
Sanders said most of his career has revolved around events, including creating, hosting and planning them.
“That’s what I have done my entire life, my entire adulthood, is produce events and I’ve always pushed back against those who said, ‘that can’t be done, or you can’t change, this is traditional,’ but the only consistent thing in life is change, so you break the mold,” Sanders said. “Sometimes you reinvent yourself; I’ve had to reinvent myself several times in my industry.”
After spending 30 years away from Buckhannon, he was happy to be able to come back to his hometown, join city council and serve the entire community.
“I was born and raised here; I grew up in a Rock Cave,” Sanders said. “My brother Mike farms there, so I have a tremendous love for this community and when I say community, I mean the entire community – I don’t mean city limits, I mean the entire county,” Sanders said. “We don’t say, ‘you live two miles outside of the city limits, I’m sorry, I don’t have time to talk to you’ … When we had the meet the citizens opportunity in southern Upshur County, I went to Rock Cave and had a blast.”
He said it’s important to include everyone who lives in the Buckhannon-Upshur community in the decision-making process.
“Everyone who comes in and spends $1, a dime, a penny, or just five minutes in Buckhannon and is part of our community, we have to embrace them all and enjoy having them here because that’s what makes us the city we are,” Sanders said. “I am thrilled to continue this. I look forward to the next four years as a city recorder and I look forward to working with council. [Councilman Dave] McCauley, mayor Skinner and I have collaborated greatly on things, and I look forward to continuing along with the projects that are started and I know we’re going to have a very, very successful year.”
Below are more photos from Friday’s swearing-in ceremony captured exclusively by My Buckhannon’s Monica Zalaznik, unless otherwise noted: