Johnson, Martinsburg’s first female mayor, dies

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Martinsburg Mayor Harriet Johnson, the first female to be elected mayor in the city’s history, has died.

Martinsburg City Attorney Kin Sayre announced Johnson’s death at the Martinsburg City Council meeting on Thursday. Johnson had been hospitalized earlier this week for an undisclosed medical emergency.

Martinsburg Mayor Harriet Johnson (File)

“The city has suffered a great loss,” Sayre said. “I don’t believe there is anybody else that loves the city of Martinsburg more than Harriet Johnson.”

Johnson served on the Martinsburg City Council for four years as an at-large member before being elected as mayor in July 2020. Her accomplishments during her time in office included the construction of the Train Station Corridor project, completing the Shenandoah Hotel renovation project and implementing mobile parking services.

Johnson also served as a board member of Main Street Martinsburg and as the chairman of the Martinsburg Housing Authority.

Berkeley County Council President Doug Copenhaver Jr. said Johnson will be missed.

“Mayor Johnson promoted the city’s progress at every opportunity and was eager to celebrate the accomplishments of the community’s businesses, organizations and residents,” he said. “The Mayor’s love for her hometown was always on display.”

U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also released statements expressing their condolences.

The full statement from the City of Martinsburg:

It is with profound sadness, the City of Martinsburg announces the death of Mayor Harriet Johnson.
Mayor Johnson was extremely proud of being elected as the first female mayor in the City’s 243-year history.
After she was elected in July 2020, Mayor Johnson simply said, with a big smile, “It’s time for a woman” and “big things are going to happen here.”  
In her short tenure, Mayor Johnson made an impact with one of the largest re-paving projects in the City’s recent history, the construction of the Train Station Corridor project that she proudly promoted, increased presence on City social media sites and launch of communication tools to better inform the public, the approval from CSX to begin the N. Queen Street Underpass project, the completion of the Shenandoah Hotel renovation project and the implementation on mobile payment for parking to assist Downtown Martinsburg.  
One of the projects she was most enthusiastic about was the upcoming renovation of City Hall to prepare the City of Martinsburg for the next generation.  City Council approved a full design and architectural contract for the project at the last Council meeting she presided over.
Mayor Johnson was a retiree from Verizon after 37 years of service.  But, it’s her contributions to the City of Martinsburg that has made our community stronger and where her legacy will be long-lasting.
She served on Martinsburg City Council as an at-large council member for four (4) years, was an active member of the Main Street Martinsburg board for 15 years, was the chair of the Martinsburg Housing Authority, and a volunteer and supporter of many other non-profit causes.
The City of Martinsburg has lost one of its most prolific supporters and ambassadors.  Mayor Johnson could always be found at a local business, community event and on Facebook promoting Martinsburg.
Simply, Mayor Johnson loved Martinsburg and its people.  She will be greatly missed.
Mayor Johnson is survived by her husband Tom

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