Three pursue Democratic bid for Jefferson clerk

April 12, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Three Democrats will vie for their party's nomination for Jefferson County Clerk in the May 11 primary election.

The winner of the race will face Republican Jennifer Maghan of Shepherdstown, W.Va., in the general election on Nov. 2.

Four Democratic candidates filed for the post but one, Gary Kable, has dropped out of the race.

Kable, a former county commissioner, said he realized later that the timing of a run for office was not good.

The county clerk's annual salary will increase to $46,200 on July 1. The term of the position is six years.

Jeral A. Milton

Jeral A. Milton, a Jefferson County native, is a Baltimore attorney who represents large industries on energy and utility rate regulation issues.

As the chief election officer, the county clerk position will be an important job in coming years, said Milton, a resident of Charles Town.


That is illustrated by the new federal Help America Vote Act, which deals with voting equipment that can be made available to communities and ways to encourage people to vote, Milton said.

In Jefferson County, Milton said she is interested in determining the best voting technology for the county and in seeking bipartisan input on the issue. Milton said she also would seek funding to pay for the equipment.

Milton, who would not reveal her age, said she supports "get-out-the-vote" movements and endorses putting county clerk documents such as campaign financing reports online to make them more accessible to the public. Many Jefferson County residents commute to work, and putting more government documents online would make government record access more convenient for those people who sometimes have trouble finding the time to go into a county office, Milton said.

Scott Coyle

Scott Coyle said many people never will visit the county clerk's office, but it is important that voters elect the best person for the position.

Coyle said the county clerk's position is important, overseeing the county's elections and acting as the keeper of records, including property deeds and wills. Marriage and hunting licenses are issued through the office, where county residents also register to vote, said Coyle, who currently is Charles Town's building inspector.

Coyle, 54, said he has the "highest regard" for longtime county clerk John Ott, who is stepping down from the post, and Coyle said he plans to carry much of Ott's philosophy forward if he is elected.

Coyle said he became interested in the position partly due to the deep history associated with the county's land records, some of which date back to the Civil War and to the 1700s.

"I got a lot of respect for the preservation of that," said Coyle, a lifelong resident of Charles Town.

Coyle graduated with an economics degree from Shepherd College and has been active in the community over the years, including being a member of the Jefferson County Planning Commission, Charles Town Planning Commission and the Jefferson County Farm Bureau.

Stafford H. Koonce

Stafford H. Koonce, 63, of Halltown, W.Va., comes from a family whose members have been involved in public service.

Koonce's great-grandfather, George Koonce, was a member of West Virginia's first Legislature and his uncle, E.E. Sam Henkle, was a former county commissioner. Koonce's son, Howard Stafford Leigh Koonce, is running for Jefferson County Board of Education in the May 11 primary election.

Koonce said he ran unsuccessfully for a Jefferson County Commission seat in the early 1970s.

Koonce worked in the personnel and training department at the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard for 13 years, worked in the agricultural field for more than 20 years and currently works as a manager for Shell Oil Co. in Leesburg, Va.

If elected, Koonce said he will work to provide efficient, courteous service to the public, ensure that records remain open to the public, advocate higher pay for county clerk employees and use the Internet to make county records more available to the public.

Koonce, whose family has roots in the county dating back to the 1700s, said he is interested in the county's history. If elected, he said he would act as a steward for the historic Jefferson County Courthouse.

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