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Republican sets sights on Senate seat in W.Va.

January 25, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Berkeley County Republican has emerged this week as a candidate for the state's 16th Senate seat.

Hedgesville, W.Va., resident Jerry Mays said Tuesday he will make a formal announcement of his candidacy on the steps of the Berkeley County Courthouse in Martinsburg at noon Friday and again in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse in Charles Town, W.Va., at 2 p.m.

The 16th Senate District includes all of Jefferson County and all but six precincts in the southwestern part of Berkeley County.

The seat is currently held by two-term Democrat John Unger, who said Tuesday he will seek re-election, but has not filed his candidacy papers.

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Without mentioning Unger by name in a press statement released Tuesday, Mays said the district lacks the consistent representation it requires as a growing region.

"We hear constantly that our needs in the Eastern Panhandle are different from the rest of the state and these differences demand a senator who will work full time with the rest of the Eastern Panhandle delegation, who will be responsive to the voters of Jefferson and Berkeley counties, who will follow through on legislative initiatives, who will be here to see that your calls are answered and that an immediate response is forthcoming," Mays said.

Mays said he'd champion the elimination of the state's food and personal property taxes and work toward improving transportation routes between the three Eastern Panhandle counties.

"That would just be a tremendous stimulus for economic development within the Eastern Panhandle," said Mays, adding poor roads were an impediment to the region's growth.

"If you had an adequate road system, 50 percent of the growth troubles would go away," he said.

Calling the business of politics a "series of compromises," Mays said the state has suffered under Democratic control, adding his choice to run was to provide a Republican candidate for the region, where Republican registration is strong.

"It's not fair to have no choice on the ballot," Mays said. "A Republican has to be on the ballot."

A former chairman of the county's Republican Executive Committee and former president of the Republican Club, Mays serves on the Eastern Panhandle Regional Planning and Development Council, and as the Berkeley County Commission's appointee to the Eastern Panhandle Transportation Authority.

Mays also serves on the board of directors of the Martinsburg/Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce and on the chamber's transportation committee. He is a member of the Eastern Panhandle Business Association and the Berkeley County Sheriff's Advisory Committee.

His volunteer efforts include coordinating for two schools in the Berkeley Read Aloud program and serving as a reader at Eagle School and Tomahawk elementary schools. Mays is a co-division leader with the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle and is vice president of Berkeley Community Pride, a county anti-litter effort. He is a past president of the Rotary Club of Martinsburg and a past zone governor of Ruritan National.

A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Mays retired from employment with the National Security Agency in 1996. He and his wife, Judy, have five children.

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