Council veteran of 24 years to not run for re-election

New Market Town Councilman Gary Comer said Tuesday that he will not run for re-election in May.  His last day in office will be June 30.

Comer, who would have been seeking his seventh term,  said the decision wasn’t a reflection of any inner strife on council, but because it was “time to step back.”

“That will mark my 20th year of serving on the council. That’s a long time, when you think about it,” Comer said. “I had mixed feelings about this four years ago, whether to try for another run. If I would’ve run this year, I probably would have won. But, you know, after 20 years, that’s a long time.”

He served on the council from 1984-88, and then from 1998 until now. Comer said he’ll continue living in New Market and working at the Dellinger Funeral Home on North Congress Street.

For the past 20 years on Town Council, he’s served as the town’s chairman of public safety, which is the liaison between police and the government. His tenure encompassed the controversy with the New Market Fire Department, which included the termination of multiple fire chiefs and the arrest of two volunteers.

Ultimately, the town took control of the department, and it now has paid staff members. Comer said that, despite the challenges the situation brought, he is proud of helping bring the Fire Department to where it is today.

“I’ve had a good run here. One of the highlights was getting the Fire Department back to where it needs to be: calls being answered; they’re standing on their own ground … I’m quite satisfied with how they do things,” Comer said. “I hate to go, but yet, I think it’s time for me to.”

The time is right to retire, Comer said, partially because the town is in good hands.

“I’ve been fortunate enough the whole time I’ve been on council, even right up to now, we have a great administrative staff … It makes it easy to be a councilman,” he said. “I’m leaving the town in very good hands.”

As of Tuesday, three people have announced their candidacy for the Town Council. Two are returnees: John Blosser and Peggy Harkness, and the third is Daryl Watkins.