BECKLEY, W.Va. – Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh is serving out his last days in public office. He’s leaving the post after 25-years at the end of the year. It’s part of a deal reached with the West Virginia Ethics Commission.
Pugh was first appointed mayor in 1988 and has been a popular leader. However, he was accused of using his public office for private gain, accepting improper gifts, using his public office for his own private gain and private gain of others and prohibited interest in public contracts in 2012.
“There is no admission of guilt because I do not think I have done anything wrong,” stressed Pugh. “If they want to push that then we’ll go to a hearing and let somebody else determine that.”
Earlier this year, Pugh reached to a settlement with the Ethics Commission. He is stepping down December 31 as mayor with two and a half years left in his term. He agreed to pay back $7,000 for the cost of the investigation and not run for public office for five years beginning January 1, 2014.
Pugh said after spending a lot of money in his own defense, it just wasn’t worth it anymore and the deal was the best option.
“I had no intention of running again in 2016. I had about two years left on my term,” he explained. “Would I have liked to have finished it up? Well, sure but those are the circumstances and that was the hand that you’re dealt.”
Despite leaving under a cloud of doubt, Pugh said he’s served the city honorably and has done a lot of good over the past two and a half decades.
“Hopefully when people look at what has happened in the city in the last 25 years, they can see some positive progress and I’ve left it better than when I found it,” according to Pugh.
As for his future, Pugh plans to enter the private sector in January and has no intention of running for office in the future.
Meanwhile, Beckley City Council will meet on January 2 to name an interim mayor to fill Pugh’s unexpired term.