MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — The city of Martinsburg is mourning the loss of Mayor Harriet Johnson, who passed away on Thursday after being hospitalized over the Fourth of July weekend.
She is remembered fondly by many community members as well as staff in City Hall, which has already been decorated with black draping to mourn Johnson.
Janet Hiett is a life-long Martinsburg resident and the owner of All About Fabric in downtown Martinsburg, just a few doors down from City Hall. She and her staff at All About Fabric made the draping for City Hall, the Martinsburg Police Department, and a few fire stations downtown.
“She had the city at her heart. She did a fantastic job, everything was for the city,” Hiett said. “It was not for her, it was for the city. And she’s done a good job on that. We’re gonna really miss her.”
City Council members as well as members of the public were notified of her passing during Thursday’s City Council meeting, which included plans to address her absence while she was in the hospital. Community members were stunned and visibly saddened by the announcement which was made during what was supposed to be a routine city council meeting.
Mayor Johnson was the city’s first female mayor and stepped into the role after serving as Councilwoman at Large, among a myriad of other service positions with the city under former Mayor George Karos.
Kevin Knowles, City Councilman of Ward 2, described Mayor Johnson as a cheerleader for the city. He says her legacy will always be remembered in the city because of the projects she spearheaded during her term as mayor.
“We’ve had work done on the Martin Street extension and we’ve had work done on the Queen Street Bridge, all over the place in the city,” Knowles said. “A lot of projects have been happened as a direct result of her leadership over the last year.”
Martinsburg City Council is holding an emergency meeting on Monday, July 12, 2021 to appoint an acting mayor, and to discuss the process of filling the vacancy.