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Public hears from candidates for Morgan County offices

April 22, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- About 142 people showed up Sunday afternoon at American Legion Post 60 to listen to local candidates talk about why they deserve votes in the May 13 primary election.

Republican, Democratic and nonpartisan school board candidates talked about the office they are seeking, and they also were asked to answer written questions from the audience.

County Commission

Glen R. Stotler, incumbent Republican, is seeking re-election to the Morgan County Commission seat in Magisterial District 2. He is serving his 24th year as commissioner.

Stotler said he believes it is imperative that someone with experience be at the helm.

"I will need no grace period to learn the ropes," he said.

Stotler was asked why zoning was not included in the current land-use committee study. He said he was in favor of proffers versus impact fees that "apply to everyone."

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He received some applause when he said the county would be making a big mistake if zoning was adopted.

Democrats Stacy Dugan, John Mattson and Earl Yost are running for the commission seat and hope to win on May 13 to face off against Stotler in November. Mattson did not attend the Sunday forum.

Dugan said she represents open government. She believes zoning should be included in the land-use study and that selling the county-owned War Memorial Hospital to pay for the new courthouse should have been explored months ago. Morgan County citizens "deserve open government," Dugan said.

Yost believes many citizens are concerned more about the congestion in the town than rebuilding an expensive courthouse. He said the town needs a bypass.

Yost said since he is retired, he has "all the time it takes to see the job gets done."

He said most people are brainwashed about zoning.

"Smart zoning will work," he said.

Sheriff

Larry Bradley and Vince Shambaugh are seeking the Republican nomination on May 13 as the candidate for sheriff. No Democrat has filed for the office.

Bradley, a former West Virginia State Police trooper, believes changes are needed in the sheriff's department.

Its hiring practices should include polygraph exams to learn if a drug history exists or if there are suicidal tendencies, he said. He added that strict accountability should be present within the department.

"If it's predictable, it will happen," Bradley said.

Shambaugh, the current chief deputy sheriff, said he wants to build a proactive department and continue building what current Sheriff Ronnie McIntire began with an aggressive approach to the drug problem in the county.

Assessor

Two Democrats are vying for the assessor nomination in the primary election.

Incumbent John Allen Swaim is running for re-election against Gary D. Wachter Jr. The winner will face off against Ronnie McIntire, the lone Republican in the race, in the November general election.

Swaim has held the position for eight years. He said open market sales are the only thing the assessor can use to determine market values.

"We only set the value -- the levying bodies set the rate," he said.

When asked about what could be done for older and low-income people, Swaim said the state should break up areas into different regions so the Homestead Exemption and tax credits the state offers could provide more relief to county residents.

Wachter said low-income residents and the elderly could be helped through education. He said has spoken with people all over the county, and the assessor should offer monthly meetings at the senior centers to discuss what kind of help is available to them. 

McIntire, the sheriff of Morgan County, said as assessor, he wants the residents to be more involved in the process and would teach them about the process through question-and-answer features in the local newspaper. He said he had a lot to learn about the job.

Board of Education

Morgan County Board of Education candidates Barbara Boyle, Jim Golden, Pamela Mann and Laura Smith spoke on Sunday. Jeffrey Jenkins and Larry Omps did not attend.

Boyle taught middle school for 32 years. She said she would like to see a decrease in the dropout rate, and wants the county to attract and retain schoolteachers.

"There are wonderful things going on in our schools, and the taxpayers need to know about it," Boyle said.

Golden said the school system's job is to prepare children for the future. A "more positive environment" is needed in the classroom, he said.

Mann said Morgan County has exceptional teachers and they need to be encouraged to stay. She said she wants to make a difference in the school system. 

Incumbent school board member Smith, the current board president, said she has been a member for 12 years. She said schools are entering the crucial part of the No Child Left Behind legislation, and "I want to stay to see the new programs through."

 

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