Only one Berkeley Co. delegate race to be contested in 2006

March 22, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A retired educator and a college student will vie this election season to represent southern Berkeley County's House of Delegates 53rd District seat in what is the only contested delegate race among state lawmakers.

Republican newcomer Jonathan Miller, a High Point University college student from Bunker Hill, W.Va., will face off in November's general election against Democrat Jerry Burton, a retired math teacher from Inwood, W.Va., for the seat being vacated this year by one-term Republican Victor Roberts of Gerrardstown, W.Va.

Burton ran unsuccessfully against Roberts in 2004.

Berkeley County's three remaining district seats are being sought by Republican incumbents, who are running unopposed.

Delegates earn $15,000 per year.

The candidates are:

52nd District

Craig P. Blair

Age: 46

Address: 47 Wasser Drive, Martinsburg


Occupation: Owner of Sunset Water Services

Party affiliation: Republican

Top issue: State lawmakers remain unresponsive to the needs of the Eastern Panhandle, Blair said, ticking off a list of issues that need to be addressed, including funding for infrastructure and the elimination of the state's sales tax on food.

"We need to be able to deal more effectively with Charleston," Blair said. "We are being held back by the rest of the state."

Blair said he also supports a better business climate to make the region more attractive to businesses.

53rd District

Jerry Burton

Age: 57

Address: 130 Audrey Lane, Inwood

Occupation: Retired public school teacher

Party affiliation: Democrat

Top issue: The loss of qualified public school teachers who are lured by higher salaries in Virginia and Maryland leads the list of issues that must be addressed by state lawmakers, Burton said.

"That's one of the major problems," Burton said. "We have a shortage and it's hard to keep (teachers employed in Berkeley County)."

Jonathan Miller

Age: 21

Address: 342 Quarry Road, Bunker Hill

Occupation: Student and business assistant at Porterfield Properties Inc.

Party affiliation:Republican

Top issue: Miller, who describes himself as "pro-life and pro-family, pro-guns and pro-jobs," said more local control of tax dollars raised in Berkeley County is required to fund needed improvements in education and infrastructure.

"If we can take more of our tax dollars back for education, we're going to improve the quality of education in Berkeley County," Miller said.

54th District

Walter Duke

Age: 58

Address: 112 Tavern Road, Martinsburg

Occupation: Retired school teacher

Party affiliation: Republican

Top issue: Berkeley County needs to better manage its growth rate, which is igniting a host of problems, including higher property tax assessments for the county's senior citizens, overburdened roads and a high teacher turnover rate, Duke said.

Duke said he supports reforming the school aid formula, thus allowing the county to keep more of what it raises locally, and would back an effort to increase the state's homestead exemption amount.

55th District

John Overington

Age: 59

Address: 491 Hoffman Road, Bedington, W.Va.

Occupation: Self-described full-time legislator

Part affiliation: Republican

Top issue: Berkeley County must be given the flexibility to manage problems brought by its high rate of growth, Overington said.

"One size doesn't fit all," said Overington, who warned the quality of life in Berkeley County is under stress by the failure of state lawmakers to address infrastructure and education needs and the area's increasing crime rate.

Overington lists farmers, hunters and senior citizens as three populations that are threatened by growth.

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