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Morgan Co. residents turn out to meet the candidates

April 07, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - An overflow crowd turned out Friday night to meet Morgan County's Democratic candidates running for office in the May 13 primary election, forcing a connecting room to be opened up to accommodate the attendees.

Connie Perry, president of the Morgan County Democrats Association, and other officials said they were pleased to see such a large turnout. Close to 150 people attended the event at American Legion Post 60, where the local candidates got most of the attention.

In the Morgan County Commission race, three candidates from Magisterial District Two, Stacey A. Dugan, John C. Mattson and Earl E. Yost, are seeking the Democratic nomination in the primary election. The nominee will face the unopposed Republican candidate, incumbent Glen R. Stotler, in the November general election.

Dugan is the nutritional services director at War Memorial Hospital in Berkeley Springs. She believes residents need a county government that will listen to county residents.

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"We need to talk about all the issues, including zoning," Dugan said. "I feel passionate about making sure Morgan County residents have and deserve an open government."

Mattson drives to Fort Meade, Md., to work and said he comes from a small town in Maine where people moved to get away from the city like many in Berkeley Springs do. He said he believes residents need to have rules in place to protect the environment, but new business such as federal government offices and the technology industry are needed to balance growth and the increasing tax burden on area residents.

Yost is a retired Berkeley Springs builder who said he would make no promises.

When asked about getting the long-distance trucks off U.S. 522, Yost said state government has to work with county government to get the bypass, and if Yost is elected, he said he would get the discussion started. He believes a bypass is needed.

Yost said we must protect the environment, including the wastewater coming from smaller treatment plants that eventually pollute area streams. He said residents need a commission that is not obligated to any special- interest group in the county.

In the Morgan County Assessor race, the two Democratic candidates are incumbent John Allen Swaim and Gary D. Wachter Jr.

The winner of the primary will face off against Ronnie McIntire, who was appointed by Morgan County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Kevin McLaughlin on Feb. 11 to run as assessor. McIntire is the sheriff of Morgan County. His term expires at the end of this year.

Swaim has held the assessor position for eight years. He said the duty of the assessor is to assess property at market value, and it is never up to market value. He said the county has eight districts, with some low and some high in market values. He said property values have doubled in Morgan County.

"I have eight years of experience. I can efficiently run our office, and I will be there to listen," Swaim said.

Wachter said he has an accounting degree and 15 years of experience. He said it is important that county public servants have the "courage" to stand up for Morgan County residents and still be able to meet the state requirements for assessing property. He said the school board, the county government and the town need to work together to ensure they are all operating efficiently to reduce costs to taxpayers.

Perry reminded the audience that Independents can vote in the Democratic primary, but they must request a Democratic ballot. In the past, Independents could only vote in the Republican primary.

Early voting begins April 23.

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