Update: Mayor reflects on election, his time in office

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MARIETTA, Oh.-(WTAP) Update: 12/25/2019

Joe Matthews has done a lot in his 30 years, spanning three decades, as Marietta's mayor.

But what he's proudest of is his work with veterans groups. That includes the opening, and later the move, to a new location, of a Veterans Administration clinic.

"It's been a great place to go to, and I'm also on the homeless veterans board in Parkersburg," the mayor, who leaves office December 31, said in a recent interview. "And we've been given the St. Joseph's building to work with, for homeless veterans."

The mayor believes business has grown during his administrations, particularly near Interstate 77.

And while the downtown area recently has seen changes in long-time business owners, he says it remains a destination for people on both sides of the Ohio River.

"A lot of people like to go to the Brew Pub, they like to go to Austyn's. Of course, the Moose Lodge is a great attraction; they're the biggest lodge in Marietta."

It took nearly 25 years for the city to develop a new purpose for the former National Guard Armory, officially reopened in 2015.

And while some might disagree, the mayor says he worked to keep the historic armory building a viable part of the city's downtown.

"We've partnered now with the school system, and we have a very viable gymnasium. We have a basement full of businesses now, and it's a great event to happen in downtown Marietta."

While Matthews leaves office at the end of December as the longest-serving mayor in the city's history, he leaves a legacy of public service that extends more than 50 years, including as a member of the Marietta Fire Department.

Update: 11/6/2019

While his time in office will end with 2019, Joe Matthews says he still has things to accomplish. That's even though it may now be up to others to complete them.

"I think the riverfront development, and another development I had in mind on Union Street across from the Post Office."

After becoming an independent instead of traditionally running as a Democrat, Matthews fell behind Democrat and Republican candidates Tuesday night.

In a post-election interview Wednesday, he continued to speak out against claims from his opponents that he wasn't a full-time mayor.

"I'm totally committee to the city of Marietta; always have and always will be," he reflected. "Years ago, I had chances to work out of town, and I decided to stay in Marietta."

One of those chances now is a job offer from the private sector he is still considering. But he indicates his days of holding political office are over.

"I have had chances to be a state representative for the state of Ohio. I've had opportunities to run for federal office. I have no visions of ever running again for another office."

Elected mayor Josh Schlicher officially takes office January 1.


Josh Schlicher is transitioning from President of Marietta City Council to mayor.

He defeated Democrat Harley Noland, and Democrat-turned-Independent Joe Matthews to become the city's first Republican mayor in 28 years.

He says it's a new start for the city.

"A lot of needed changes," Schlicher said after the final vote totals were released Tuesday night, "but also changes that, for whatever reason, been put on the back burner but not been implemented but needed to be implemented."

While there was only one contested race, Schlicher will deal with a city council with some new faces, including his successor as council president, Susan Vessels.

Marietta school leaders, meantime, say they have not given up on a move to a central school campus, in spite of the loss of a school bond levy that would have funded those changes.

"We have until, I believe, March, to go back to the ballot with the same deal. But after that, the deal goes away," said Superintendent Will Hampton.

We asked: are there still consolidations coming, whether there's a new building or not?

"We will be changing, regardless," he said, "and we've been saying that all along. So, we'll look and plan how that might look, very soon."

The next election is the county's 2020 primary, set for March 17.