Pharr ‘still in awe’ of support shown after leading at-large city council race Tuesday night

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — City council member at-large Jennifer Pharr says she woke up Wednesday morning ‘still in awe’ of the support shown in the vote total in the primary election on Tuesday, earning Pharr a spot on the ballot in the general election.

Pharr led all candidates in votes in the Democratic at-large city council race, with 2,631. She will be joined by other incumbents Caitlin Cook (2,544 votes), Becky Ceperley (2,270 votes), and Emmett Pepper (2,068 votes) on the general election ballot for at-large council seats. Newcomers Joe Solomon, who finished 4th in the race with 2,192 votes, and Shawn Taylor, who finished 6th with 1,859 votes, will advance to the general election, the Kanawha County clerk’s office unofficial results showed.

Eleven Democrats were on the ballot and only six advanced to match up against four Republicans. The GOP at-large candidates that automatically moved on to the general election in November are Mark A. Sadd, Courtney Persinger, Larry Malone and John Bsharah.

“I think with public service, people really want to see you serve. I hope that the votes I was able to earn, I hope that came from the fact that people see me working and trying to do best for the city of Charleston,” Pharr told 580-WCHS on Wednesday.

Jennifer Pharr

“That’s what I feel like I want to embody and I hope people see that.”

Pharr, who has been council for just more than three years, mentioned three projects that she believed resonated with the voters including her work as a leasing agent and property manager for the Atlas Building. She said the way she’s been able to turn the building around has been the definition of ‘economic development.’

She also talked about the Better Together CWV program she helped create during the pandemic to help displaced service workers, and the 10 in 10 initiative, hoping to bring 10,000 people to Charleston in 10 years.

“I try to be accessible and I listen to people. I had a great aunt that told me ‘If you listen to people, you’ll hear what they want. If you listen intently, you’ll hear what they need.’ She always told me to listen more and talk less,” Pharr said.

In the ward races on the Charleston City Council, a few Democratic incumbents were ousted. Charleston business owner Kathy Rubio edged three-term incumbent Robert Sheets by one vote, 48-47, in a field of five candidates in Ward 8. That ward has no Republican challenger.

In Ward 10 Democratic primary, Chelsea Steelhammer earned 160 votes compared to two-term incumbent Keeley Steele’s 120. Like Ward 8, there will be no Republican challenger in the general election.

The general election is slated for November 8. The top six vote-getters from either party will be elected to the at-large seats.