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Former Berkeley Co. Commissioner files for surveyor

John E. âEURoeJohnnyâEUR

John E. âEURoeJohnnyâEUR

January 25, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. ? A former Berkeley County Commissioner whose extended absence toward the end of his term four years ago stoked an exploration of how to remove him from office has filed candidacy papers to be the county's next surveyor.

Republican John E. "Johnny" Wright of 87 Fieldstone Drive, Bunker Hill, W.Va., on Friday paid the $10 filing fee for the office, which no longer comes with any official duties or salary, according to the Berkeley County Voters Registration office.

A message left at Wright's home was not returned Friday afternoon. He is one of four candidates who filed for the office, according to the Berkeley County Clerk's Voters Registration office.

Fellow Republicans Paul Lewis Flick of Hedgesville, W.Va., and Lynn "Chip" Leatherman II, of Falling Waters, W.Va., also filed for the party's nomination in the May 13 primary election.

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Democrat Kirk Norton of Martinsburg appears to be assured his party's nomination as the lone candidate to file by the close of business Friday, the last day to file for a county office in person.

A complete list of candidates may not be finalized until early next week because candidacy filings may still be postmarked by the midnight deadline today and mailed to county election officials, according to Voters Registration office supervisor Bonnie Woodfall.

Three candidates file for magistrate

Joining Wright in filing for a Berkeley County elected office on Friday were three candidates for magistrate - two Democrats and one Republican.

After serving two four-year terms as the county's sheriff, W. Randy Smith, 60, said he'd like to stay involved in the county's criminal justice system as a magistrate.

A Democrat, Smith also cited his years of combined experience as a Sheriff's deputy, private investigator, bail bondsman and process server as qualifications for the magistrate post.

"I think I have a pretty good understanding of how the system works," Smith said.

Also filing Friday for magistrate were Democrat Ywatta "Nessy" Mitchell of Martinsburg and Republican Robert L. "Rob" Lowe II of Martinsburg.

All five incumbent magistrates, Republicans Harry L. Snow of Hedgesville and JoAnn Overington, and Democrats Joan V. Bragg, Sandy Miller and Jim Humphrey have filed for election.

Berkeley County magistrates, a state court office, are paid $50,000 annually.

Wright's absence from County Commission meetings in 2004 prompted then-commissioner Howard L. Strauss to ask legal counsel how a county official could be legally removed.

In a May 2004 meeting, Strauss noted that Wright had only attended two meetings until that point in time, but backed away from pursuing the commissioner's removal after learning it would become a lengthy petition-based process that included a hearing by three state Supreme Court-appointed judges.

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