Mass resignations in Virginia. Middletown now has a 24-year-old acting mayor.

From left are former Middletown, Va. Mayor Mark Brown and new Mayor Charles H. Harbaugh IV, age 24

By Sue Golden
Frederick County Report

It was a capacity crowd for last night’s Middletown Town Council meeting, and the council did not let the crowd down. The meeting started with Mayor Mark Brown reading the letter of resignation from the new Town Attorney J. David Griffin. Mr. Griffin began representing the Town on January 1st. Then the mayor read his own letter of resignation. True to form, the mayor did not go quietly into the night. The mayor read from a prepared statement that blasted Councilors Mark Davis, Carl H. Bernhards, Jr. and Donna M. G. Gray, calling them egotistical, deceptive, and vindictive in turn. He also had harsh words for members of the planning commission, accusing all of the above of preventing doing what was best for the community.

The mayor then turned to Councilor John Blaisdell. Councilor Blaisdell read his letter of resignation, again with harsh words for the council and planning commission. Then it was Councilor Gil Barrington’s turn. Barrington, who ran for a vacant seat on council saying he was going to be a conciliator, blasted the council for being totally dysfunctional and a laughing stock. All four resigned effective immediately. The now former mayor and councilors quickly left the dais.

Some in the crowd were clearly delighted; the antics of the council were beginning to wear thin for residents. Others, and the remaining members of council remained respectfully silent throughout. Councilor Harbaugh moved to the mayoral chair and resumed the meeting.

Councilor Gray expressed surprise, but wondered about the commitment of the aforementioned since they walked out without consideration for the Town. Councilor Davis said he had tried to talk the Councilors out of resigning, calling them good people. He disavowed a number of the former mayor’s contentions, and hoped council could get back to work. Councilor Bernhards had heard there might be resignations at the meeting, but assumed the former mayor would call for his resignation. He said the remaining three councilors had its work cut out for them, seeing as a new budget needs to be drafted in the next 30 days. The new Mayor, 25 year-old Charles H. Harbaugh IV, vowed to bring “stability and civility” back to the council. “I always wanted to be mayor, I just never thought I would be the mayor this young.”

The remainder of the meeting was almost light hearted. There was not much on the agenda, and council and the audience bantered with the new mayor. At the close of the meeting, there was a round of applause from the crowd.

The media (except this one), had been called in advance. Channel 3 TV was there, as well as the press media. The evening police shift was in attendance, which is irregular. After the meeting, the employees made for the door. Citizens inside the chamber discussed the surprise events. The former mayor and councilors appeared to continue to hold court in front of town hall.

As predicted, it was worth being there. Now let’s see where we go from here.

Oh, and it goes without saying, that there are openings on both the council and planning commission. Anyone interested should contact town hall.

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