CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Former Charleston Mayor Danny Jones says he first heard of John Hutchinson while he was serving in the Vietnam War.

Danny Jones

Hutchinson was elected as the city’s youngest mayor at the time at the age of 36 in 1971. He died Friday at the age of 89.

Jones said he and his dad would send tapes of their voices back and forth while he was overseas. That’s when his dad informed Jones of the new mayor and what was going on at Charleston City Hall.

“There was a lot of corruption at the police department and John ran against it and one of the guys he ran against was a guy named Dallas Bias who was the police chief,” Jones recalled. “He was a conservative Democrat and my dad told me ‘your mother and I are going to vote for John’.”

When Jones returned home, he struggled finding work. That’s when Hutchinson hired Jones as a grave digger in 1972.

“I dug graves all that summer until the garbage strike in ’72 which shut the city down. That was my first exposure to politics,” Jones said.

Hutchinson, known as a conservative Democrat, won reelection in 1975 and again in 1979. He was known for making major improvements to the Charleston Civic Center, including the construction of the Civic Center Coliseum. He also led the effort to create an area where the Charleston Town Center Mall would be constructed.

Jones said it takes a strong leader to become mayor of West Virginia’s largest city and Hutchinson did that well.

“John was a good mayor. He was able to bring in the money. He had a good presentation and a handsome guy,” he said.

Jones remembers Hutchinson also running for governor during his time as mayor.

“John was a good man. He had a temper, and he ran for governor in ’76 when he was into his second term. He came in almost last,” he said.

In 1980, Hutchinson won a special election to fill West Virginia’s Third District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives following the death of Rep. John Slack. Hutchinson lost the fall election for the seat to Republican Mick Staton.

Hutchinson also oversaw the construction of community centers and parking garages.

Hutchinson died in Atlanta Friday where he lived in an assisted living facility.

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