Three apply for open Exeter council seat

Paul Myers

Steve Garver, Vicki Riddle and Alicia Handley apply to fill the Area D council seat left vacant by former mayor Mary Waterman-Philpot

EXETER – Since former mayor, Mary Waterman-Philpot, stepped down from the council the remaining four members are tasked with finding her replacement. Steve Garver, Vicki Riddle and Alicia Handley have thrown their hats in the ring for the open seat.

The Exeter City Council met at their April 13 meeting and decided that instead of picking a candidate from their resume, it would be best to hold interviews. All three candidates will be interviewed at the council’s April 27 meeting next week.

All applicants live in Area D, the district Waterman-Philpot stepped down from. Garver, a well known English teacher and baseball coach with Exeter High School, put down in his application that he has lived in Exeter for more than 60 years. He has retired from teaching but still works in education as a teacher intern supervisor. He also continues to coach baseball.

Garver stated in his letter to the council that growing up and working in Exeter has given him an appreciation for the city.

“I believe Exeter is a wonderful city to live in and visit. I’d like others to have the same thoughts. I want to work to help Exeter present the best of itself to others,” Garver stated in his letter.

Riddle stated in her application that she has lived in Exeter for 29 years. She stated as well that she is retired, but still volunteers her time at Pink Ladies and as an Exeter Cemetery Trustee. In her letter to the council, she said that she is sad to see Waterman-Philpot go, and hopes the best for her.

Fellow community members like former mayor, Robyn Stearns, Exeter Unified School District Trustee Mark Hellwig and his wife Rosemary Hellwig offered letters of support for Riddle.

“Vicki is the kind of person you want on your team. She will give 100% on everything she does. She has more energy than any person I’ve ever met,” Stearns stated in her letter.

“She listens and is able to bring a new perspective to anything she gets involved in. Her love for her community is contagious and she would be a great addition to the council,” the Hellwigs wrote.

Handley, stated that she has lived in Exeter for 43 years, and works with Harvest Wealth Group. She serves on the Grinch Street Committee, a board member at the Church of God of Exeter, and serves as school site council at Lindsay School. Handley also served on the Measure P Citizens Advisory Committee prior to its passage last November.

She stated in her letter to the council that she will bring a fresh outlook to the council.

“My years in various volunteer roles here in Exeter have created a strong desire to serve great citizens of Exeter, representing District D as we protect, preserve and promote small town America,” Handley stated in her letter.

Waterman-Philpot stepped down from the council last month shortly before the council declared her seat vacant. According to city manager Adam Ennis the city could have held a special election for the seat, but that would have cost the city thousands in addition to waiting until June 2022.

Waiting makes little sense because Waterman-Philpot’s term ends in November 2022. In addition to waiting for over a year for the community to elect someone, whoever they elect would only hold the seat for a few months before voters were asked to cast a ballot for the seat again. As well, the council would have to go more than a year with only four members.

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