Jefferson County Magistrate Candidates Q&A

October 29, 2012
  • From left are candidates for Jefferson County Magistrate including Mary Paul Rissler, Gail Boober, Peter Onoszko, William Senseney and Bill Arnicar.
From left are candidates for Jefferson County Magistrate including Mary Paul Rissler, Gail Boober, Peter Onoszko, William Senseney and Bill Arnicar.

Editor’s note: As part of its ongoing coverage for next Tuesday’s general election, The Herald-Mail asked the five candidates seeking three open Jefferson County magistrate positions the following questions:

Question 1: What is your legal experience and/or other qualifications for the position?

Question 2: Why are you the right choice for magistrate in your county?

Question 3: What are the key qualities and components of a good magistrate?

Candidates were limited to 50 words for the responses to questions two and three. The questions have been edited for length, clarity and grammar.

Mary Paul Rissler  
Age: 61

Town of residence: Charles Town, W.Va.

Occupation: Jefferson County magistrate

Question 1: Ten-plus years as legal secretary/paralegal; miscellaneous college courses of interest; a graduate of the National Institute of Paralegal Studies; 18 years experience as a magistrate (as of Nov. 4).

Question 2: I’ve been a magistrate since 1994, and every promise I made then, I’ve kept. I came into this position with experience and technical training, and I’ve been building on that foundation ever since. I am told that I have a reputation in the community for being fair and impartial, which are critical attributes of any judicial officer.

Question 3: To comply with Code of Judical Conduct (ethics); listen attentively to the facts/testimony in a case, and to render decisions in accordance with the applicable law; keep up with changes in the law; be courteous and respectful to everyone; be effective and efficient in the office and in the courtroom.

Gail Boober

Age: 59

Town of residence: Charles Town

Occupation: Jefferson County magistrate

Question 1: My 28 years serving as your magistrate, which has included annual educational conferences and for the past several years I have co-chaired the education committee for all of the magistrates in the state. The West Virginia Supreme Court selected me to attend several Judicial Leadership Conferences.

Question 2: I have continuously strived to make our county a better place to live. I am very passionate about this position and continue to meet the challenges that await me everyday. My 28 years of dedication and hard work as your magistrate make me the most qualified to remain in this position. 

Question 3: I am honest, dependable, compassionate and a person of outstanding moral character, who communicates with an open mind. My gifts of great recall and multi-tasking skills have greatly enhanced my judicial efforts. I understand legal procedures, and maintain the ability to identify and comprehend relevant facts, in order to reach fair and logical judicial decisions. 

Peter Onoszko

Age: 64

Town of Residence: Charles Town.

Occupation: Retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel

Question 1: As an officer commanding our country’s fighting men and women, I exercised non-judicial punishment authority. This means that I presided as judge over my troops in cases not considered serious enough for a formal court martial or trial. During the last four years of my military career, I was an inspector general in the Pentagon where I supervised the conduct of over 100 formally directed investigations.

Question 2: Beyond the qualifications stated above, my campaign is self-funded and I am not beholden to anyone. My only obligation is to the people of Jefferson County. As a military retiree, I have the time to devote myself solely to the execution of the duties of  magistrate.

Question 3: A good magistrate must be fair and impartial. He or she must have had extensive experience in dealing with people (I spent 25 years as an Army officer). A good magistrate must know how to apply the law to those cases which come before him or her.

William Senseney

Age: 63

Town of residence: Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Occupation: Jefferson County magistrate

Question 1: Magistrate for Jefferson County for 12 years, sheriff and treasurer of Jefferson County for eight years, manager of a local business for 15 years, honorable discharge – Captain U.S. Army Reserves, bachelor’s degree in business administration from West Virginia, lifelong resident of Jefferson County.

Question 2: Experience counts. My 12 years on the bench as magistrate have taught me that every set of circumstances is different and that each case must be judged on its own merits. Impartial professionalism will continue to be my goal, and I pledge to you that I will be fair and firm with every case that comes before me.

Question 3: Magistrate court is where the judicial branch of our government truly meets the public. I have devoted myself to working toward a system that is characterized by accessibility, fairness and integrity. I have dedicated myself to the faithful and impartial performance of my duties as magistrate.

Bill Arnicar

Age: 42

Town of residence: Ranson, W.Va.

Occupation: Stay-at-home dad

Question 1: Education: Some college, and an assortment of technical schooling, military, Information technology (A+, networking certifications), certified nursing assistant. Professional experience: U.S. Navy (submarines), process technician for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, network technician for Meta-Solutions, UUNet and MCI WorldCom. CNA/ GNA (Certified medication assistant).

Question 2: I have never run for or held public office; I am not a professional politician. The current incumbents have held office here for approaching 30 years in some cases. They were also unchallenged during the last two elections. Our governance is supposed to be, by, of and for the people.

Question 3:  I believe that past associations with policing agencies should not encumber a magistrate, especially considering they should appear to be impartial when hearing cases brought before the court by the police. A good magistrate should never jump to conclusions, and only render opinions based upon the facts in evidence. 

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