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Seeking a new mayor’s old seat in Warrenton

Thursday, Mar. 13 | By Jonathan Hunley
Mike Forsten, co-owner of the Old Town Athletic Club, wants to run for the Ward 1 seat on Warrenton's Town Council, assuming Powell L. Duggan, the current officeholder, is elected mayor. Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Mike Forsten joked Monday that he has some things to learn about politics. But he seems to have the notion of timing already down.

Forsten, who owns the Old Town Athletic Club with his wife, Kim, announced last week that he plans to run for the Ward 1 seat on the Warrenton Town Council.

That certainly puts the fitness professional ahead of the game. An election date for the spot hasn't even been decided.

The idea that the position, now held by Councilman Powell L. Duggan, will be vacated by July 1 is all but a foregone conclusion, however.

Duggan is running unopposed to succeed Warrenton Mayor George Fitch, who did not seek re-election this year. So unless a write-in candidate puts forth a Herculean effort, Duggan will claim the office May 6, when town voters will choose a mayor and two at-large council members.

An Election Day mayoral victory, though, means that he will leave the Ward 1 slot with two years remaining in the term.

When Mike Forsten learned this, he wondered what would happen to the ward's representation on the Town Council.

His understanding is that the councilors can appoint someone to the job temporarily but that a special election for the seat must be held by November.

However, Fauquier County Registrar Alex Ables said Tuesday that he couldn't provide an exact timetable for replacing Duggan in Ward 1 as several factors would come into play, including Town Council input and multiple sections of state code governing vacancies and when special elections are allowed to be held.

Regardless of the election date, Forsten went on the hunt for a good candidate to replace Duggan.

But he said, "The more I was looking at that, the more everyone was looking at me."

So the 55-year-old decided to take the political plunge. He is scheduled to meet with Duggan on Friday to talk over the matter.

Forsten moved to Fauquier County in 1978 and into the town a decade later.

Most of his working life has been spent in the building industry, first in residential construction and then in commercial. He and his wife have operated the Old Town Athletic Club since 1996.

One of his priorities, if elected, would be to try to restore the concepts of honesty and integrity to public service.

Many refer to this effort as "transparency" in government, but Forsten said that term seems a tired buzzword now.

What he said he really wants to see is a commitment to constituents, not to anyone's personal political goals.

"It can't be about an individual," Forsten said.

Public safety and transportation are other topics on his mind. Regarding the latter, he recalled seeing a model of a proposed Warrenton parking garage back in the late 1980s.

It's now 2014, he noted, and there's still no garage.

It still can be a chore finding a parking space in town, too, he added.

Forsten also would like to see Warrenton strengthen its working relationship with county officials, and he believes the municipality again needs its own economic development director. Fauquier has such a position, but the job was eliminated from the town government.

"It's just time to get stuff done," he said.

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