Politics at the Local Level 

Black Mayors Around West Virginia

By Kim Felix, for Black By God: The West Virginian

Election season is in full swing as the 2024 presidential race appears to be a repeat of the 2020 match up with both Trump and Biden seemingly leading the Republican and Democratic, respectively.  West Virginians took to the ballot box to prove once again that politics at the local level is where they are focused on creating change. The 2023 off-year election cycle was ripe with firsts, including the election of a handful of Black mayors all around the state.

Mr. Charles Briscoe is mayor of Oak Hill.

In Oak Hill, residents made history and elected their first African American mayor.  Mr. Charles Briscoe defeated incumbent Mayor Danny Wright in the 2023 municipal election. This history-making race brought the new politician to the forefront in addressing community issues and adding diversity to Oak Hill’s city council roster.  Briscoe shared that he plans to listen to residents’ concerns and serve as a conduit between residents and city council members. 

Mr. Daniel L. Dudley is Wellsburg’s mayor.

Wellsburg voters elected their first African American council member, Mr. Daniel L. Dudley, to be their mayor.  Dudley was appointed interim mayor after former Mayor Sue Simonetti announced she would not seek re-election. As interim, Dudley’s community engagement won him the mayoral seat. A first for Wellsburg, Dudley has plans to revitalize the community and is open to hearing suggestions from its residents. Dudley has already laid out a plan for shared spaces promoting community use.

Chesapeake Mayor Melissa Hill.

Situated on the Kanawha River, Chesapeake saw its first female Black mayor in Mayor Melissa Hill. The progressive 56-year-old IT consultant expressed her desire to revitalize the town by focusing on community restoration.  In a town of 9.6% African Americans, one of its core industries centered around the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. Hill is focused on attracting grants and land resources to enhance facilities for seniors and the youth. Hill comes from a family of public service as her father was a former Chesapeake police officer. Her belief in inclusivity and growth allows Chesapeake to forge new historical firsts.

City of Lewisburg’s Mayor Beverly White.

Mayor Beverly White made history by serving as the first Black woman on the city council, a position she held for 16 years in a city she has lived in her entire life.  She made history yet again in 2019 when she was elected as the first Black Mayor in the City of Lewisburg.  Mayor Beverly White has been blazing trails ever since.  Lewisburg was named the most inclusive city by WV Living in 2021. Home to the Carnegie Hall arts, cultural, and educational center, Mayor White’s vision, dedication to public service, and community involvement have proven that diversity and inclusion add richness to one’s quality of life that would likely not otherwise exist.           

All mayors were honored at the 2024 Black Policy Day event at the Capitol Building in Charleston, W.Va., on Feb. 7, 2024, in a ceremony recognizing Black politician’s contributions to public service.


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