Candidates look to advance in GOP magistrate primary

May 06, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - They are a former probation officer, a retired teacher, an ex-Marine who also worked as a federal special agent, a radiation protection technician and two incumbents with prior courtroom or police experience.

Six Republican candidates - Kristy Greer, Tom Grove, Robert L. Lowe II, JoAnn Overington, Harry Snow and Mary C. Teufel - are vying for five magistrate slots in the primary election. The five candidates who advance after the May 11 primary election will face four Democrats in the Nov. 2 general election.

Democratic candidates are incumbents Joan Bragg, Sandy Miller and Scott Paugh, along with newcomer Ywatta "Nessy" Mitchell.

In the general election the top five vote-getters, without regard to party affiliation, will take office. Magistrates are elected to four-year terms and make $40,000 a year.

Kristy Greer

Kristy Greer says she has a reputation.

"I am probably considered the most conservative, probably the strictest," she said. "I have a reputation for that. I'm not ashamed of that."

Greer was born in Madison, Wis., and grew up in Houston. She graduated from high school in Rockville, Md., and moved to Berkeley County in 1992.

Greer, 41, worked part-time jobs while raising her three children, who are now teenagers. In 1994, she began working as the on-call magistrate for the city of Martinsburg.

She was elected a county magistrate in 2000.

"I truly believe I've had an impact on crime in this area. I truly believe that, as naive as that sounds," she said.

Greer said she understands that what a magistrate does affects the lives of those charged with a crime and their families.

"I'd like to think that I haven't been doing this so long that I've lost perspective for how much we affect these things," she said.

Tom Grove

There's a piece of paper that Tom Grove says he holds in high regard.

"I'm a big fan of the Constitution and its literal interpretation," said Grove, 39.

Grove, of Martinsburg, said he believes what he learned in the U.S. Navy - following orders word-for-word - could be applied to the magistrate's position.

Grove served eight and a half years in the Navy after graduating from Musselman High School. Since then he has spent 10 years as a radiation protection technician at power plants, including Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.

He and his father published the now-defunct Mill Creek Peddler, a free community newspaper for residents in the southern part of Berkeley County.

He also works at Boltz's Hardware in Martinsburg.

This is Grove's fourth attempt at public office. He previously sought a House of Delegates seat in 1996 and 2002, and a Board of Education seat in 1998. He was not successful in the races.

Grove moved from Silver Spring, Md., to Berkeley County when he was 10 years old. He and his wife have six children.

Robert L. Lowe II

Lowe's life and career have taken him around the world, but he says a solid foundation remained in place through all of it.

"My whole career has been of laws, rules and regulations," said Lowe, who retired in 2000.

Lowe, 54, of Martinsburg, served two years of active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps, including a tour of duty in Vietnam. He also worked as a sky marshal, a U.S. Customs patrol officer and as a special agent/criminal investigator with U.S. Customs.

A lifelong county resident, Lowe graduated from Martinsburg High School. He lost a bid to become the county assessor in 2000 and, two years later, lost in a House of Delegates race.

Since his retirement, Lowe said he has been involved in several civic organizations.

"Changing of the guard" is a phrase Lowe is using for his campaign.

"I have earned the public trust through my background," he said. "I have integrity. I am honest. I am fair."

Lowe said he knows how the court system works, having taken cases before federal and state magistrates.

JoAnn Overington

JoAnn Overington is a retired teacher, but could easily be considered a full-time volunteer. Overington is the treasurer of the Berkeley County Humane Society; is active with Bedington (W.Va.) Ruritan, a community service organization; coordinates volunteers for United Way's annual Day of Caring; volunteers one day a week at the National Conservation Training Center library in Shepherdstown, W.Va.; and, when her husband is in Charleston, W.Va., she takes over his Read-Aloud duties to a class of first-graders.

Overington, 57, said she has always been interested in the judicial system. She described herself as a fair, hard worker who can impartially examine both sides of an issue.

A West Virginia native, Overington has an undergraduate degree from Fairmont State College and a master's degree from West Virginia University. She taught in Washington County for 30 years before retiring in 2001.

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