Jean Ford reflects on record-breaking tenue

First woman mayor served a record 23 years
Jean Ford's last day as mayor of Williamstown was Tuesday.
Jean Ford's last day as mayor of Williamstown was Tuesday.(WTAP)
Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 6:00 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va (WTAP) -Jean Ford says, when she became mayor of Williamstown in 1998, the city was virtually broke. Business leaders chipped in money to keep the city in operation.

“That made me have faith that people really wanted to see things done,” Ford recalled in a recent interview.

At the suggestion of businessman Frank Fenton, she later appealed to then-governor Joe Manchin for a 1% sales tax, one that today, brings in $300,000 in annual revenue.

“When (Manchin) left office, he called me and said, ‘Jean, the legislation has passed that, if you do not have B and O tax in the city, you can have a 1% sales tax.”

Two of the projects which, at the very least, bear Jean Ford’s imprint sit on opposite sides of the I-77, Route 14 interchange. One of them, a roundabout, is now under construction. The other is the interstate 77 rest stop, opened in 2004.

Ford, who left office Tuesday, says the thing she says she will miss the most is the people who work in the Williamstown City Building, many of whom have been with her throughout her 23-year tenue.

But she says she hasn’t left the building for good.

“I’ve worked probably with 80% of the people in the 23 years I’ve been here. That’s a nice family relationship. And so I know that I’ll be coming in to say “hey” to them, and just visit.”

Most of the time, however, she will tend to her Vienna business, something she did before she became involved in city government.

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