Longtime St. Albans councilwoman retiring

Chip Ellis
St. Albans City Councilwoman Helen Warren is not running for re-election after 40 years of city service. Her dog, Katie, approves.
ST. ALBANS -- St. Albans City Councilwoman Helen Warren wants everyone to know that the filing deadline to run for city offices is Wednesday.That's because Warren is retiring from office after 40 years of city service."My goal in this is not publicity for me," said Warren, 81. "It's to encourage other people to get involved with the city." She said citizens have until the end of the day Wednesday to file for the office of mayor and for 12 council seats in the city's May elections.Warren, an Illinois native who moved with her husband to the Mountain State more than 40 years ago, has been involved in city government since 1968."I began in January 1968 as a secretary and stenographer responsible for recording by shorthand and writing council minutes as well as performing other secretarial work," Warren remembered. "This was before the meetings were recorded using a tape recorder. Mayor Averil Ramsey appointed me as city clerk and treasurer."During her years with the city, Warren has worked with eight different mayors, and doesn't have an unkind word for any of them. "The mayors we've had have been sincere," she said. "They've worked for the city."Warren, who is currently a city councilwoman-at-large and vice mayor when Mayor Dick Callaway is absent, was first elected to city council in 1978. She served as a council member in wards 8 and 5 before becoming an at-large member, and served as mayor for two months after the death of former Mayor Greg Jones in 2006.The only time she hasn't served in office was from 1985 to 1989."I ran for mayor," she explained. "Eddie Bassitt won and I lost.
"Eddie was a good friend," she continued. "We got along fine."Warren said she's proud of the work of city government, which she said has been "all for the betterment" of the city."We've kept St. Albans afloat," she said. "We've never had to have big layoffs of employees and we pay all our bills."Still, she said, she has seen changes over the years. "I like to think of home as pleasant, where you don't have to lock your doors," she said. "I know that time is past. But it's not just St. Albans, it's every city."Warren said she always put city council first, planning vacations around council meetings and making herself available to townspeople. "My telephone number is in the telephone directory," she said. "When they call, I go."
Still, she said, "Forty years is long enough to serve. I've paid my price."Warren's last day in office will be July 1."I'll enjoy having more time for family and personal things," she said. Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.
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