UPDATE: Remaining Morgantown council candidates cleared after petition review

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WDTV) -- UPDATE 3/15/19 3:25PM
The City of Morgantown says a review of all city council candidates' petitions has been concluded, clearing all current candidates to remain on the ballot.

Photo courtesy: MGN

The review stemmed from accusations that former candidate Aaron Metz used forged signatures to qualify for candidacy, something Metz admitted to in a statement on social media.

The review reached the conclusion that Metz did not meet the 75 signature quota to earn a spot on the ballot, and that the remaining candidates did meet the requirement.

The review was led by the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office with cooperation from the Morgantown City Clerk's Office.

ORIGINAL STORY 3/11/19 1:09PM
A former Morgantown City Council candidate says he withdrew his candidacy after forging signatures.

In a statement released by T. Aaron Metz on Facebook, Metz said that he withdrew from the race on Friday after allegations of forging signatures on his petition to become a candidate. He said stress in his personal life caused him to make the choice.

"I wasn’t thinking clearly and didn’t want to let anyone down by not making it onto the ballot. I should have sought help, but instead tried to do everything on my own," Metz said.

Metz apologized for the forgeries and said he will work to regain the public's trust.

"I wish to apologize to my friends and family, my supporters, and to the city of Morgantown that I love so much. I have always respected our government and its systems but, in this situation, I let down not only my friends and family, but also myself."

According to Morgantown Communications Manager Andrew Stacy, an investigation has been launched with state officials into the forgeries.

"The accuracy and credibility of the election process is of the utmost importance to the city, candidates, and residents," Stacy said. "There was sufficient information to conduct a more thorough investigation. The City Clerk, as the city's chief elections official, is working closely with the West Virginia Secretary of State Elections Division for guidance on how to proceed and what assistance they can provide. One of the ways the city is verifying names is to compare them with signatures provided by the Secretary of State's Office."

You can read Metz's full statement below:

"On Friday, March 8th, 2019, I withdrew my candidacy for Morgantown City Council for personal reasons involving the illness of my newly born son, but also because of the recent allegations that have been brought against me. It is my hope that this withdraw from the election will save the City Clerk’s office from doing work that is unnecessary and wasteful to our city.

"As for the allegations, I did collect signatures and gathered a substantial amount of them on my own. However, the stress from my wife being ill during her pregnancy coupled with other personal pressures led me to cut corners and make a stupid mistake when it became clear to me that I would fall short of the signatures needed. I wasn’t thinking clearly and didn’t want to let anyone down by not making it onto the ballot. I should have sought help, but instead tried to do everything on my own. I have no one to blame but myself and hope this statement will put the issue to rest.

"I wish to apologize to my friends and family, my supporters, and to the city of Morgantown that I love so much. I have always respected our government and its systems but, in this situation, I let down not only my friends and family, but also myself.

"Even though it will take much time and effort, I plan to work hard to gain the trust back of everyone that I have let down. I humbly ask to be given that chance."

Sincerely,
T. Aaron Metz