(Editor's Note: The Wetzel Chronicle mailed questions to all political candidates in races of local significance. Their responses will be printed in the April 25 and May 2 editions of the Wetzel Chronicle in a simple question and answer format.)
James B. Hoskins, Nita J. King, and Scott Lemley are vying for the job of Wetzel County Assessor.
Hoskins is currently serving his second and final term as Sheriff and Treasurer. By state law he is prohibited from seeking a third term.
The son of Charles and Marie Hoskins of New Martinsville, Hoskins graduated from Magnolia. Hoskins attended college at WVNCC, Washington State, and Marshall, obtaining his degree in Criminal Justice. Hoskins is a graduate of the WV State Police Academy. Hoskins has several years of experience in a supervisory role.
James and his wife Amanda have been married for 16 years. James and Amanda reside in New Martinsville with their twin daughters, Brynna and Brooke. James attends the New Martinsville United Methodist Church with his family. "My children are receiving a valuable education from dedicated local teachers. This is why I want to raise our daughters in Wetzel County. I am blessed to have the support of my wife, family, and friends as I wish to continue my service to Wetzel County residents."
"My current duties will allow me to transition comfortably to the position of Assessor. It is my wish to continue my service to the citizens. I will bring the same level of service and dedication to the Assessor's Office," said Hoskins.
King and her husband of 22 years, Robert, reside in Folsom with their two children, Amber and Samuel. Their oldest child, Mike, resides in Jacksonburg with Kendra and their daughter Jaymison.
King is the daughter of the late Jack and Marlene Trader, also of Folsom, and the daughter-in-law of Barbara King of Pine Grove and the late Robert King.
She is a graduate of Webster Business College and Valley High School, and a native of Wetzel County.
She is a member of the Democrat Women and a long-standing friend of 4-H.
King is a member of the International Association of Assessing Officers and is IAAO Certified. Also, she's a member of the West Virginia Association of Geospatial Professionals, a state association for the promotion and sharing of geographic information and technology; she is also certified.
"I bring to the post of Assessor, 20 years in public service, 18 of which having been in the Assessor's Office in the capacity of Chief Deputy Assessor," said King. "In the absence of the current Assessor, I serve in the capacity of the Assessor. My experience, knowledge of property tax codes and laws, education, intimate knowledge of real estate, and office administration skills will benefit the citizens of Wetzel County.
Lemley has lived in Wetzel County all his life and continues to live in Hundred. He is the son of Bill and Diana Lemley of Hundred and the grandson of the late Scott Yost of Hundred and Phyllis Yost of Fairmont and the late George and Lela Lemley of Hundred.
He has been in public service for the past 12 years as a member of the Hundred Town Council, Mayor of Hundred, a member of the Wetzel County Board of Education, and a member of the Wetzel County Commission. He has a Master in Business Administration Degree from West Virginia University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with majors in Finance and Management from Fairmont State University.
He is a member of the Harmony Baptist Church and he helps out by playing the piano during church service. He is a member of the Littleton Lodge No. 131 A.F. & A.M. and a member of the Moose Lodge No. 931. His candidacy has been endorsed by New Martinsville Mayor Lucille Blum, the Marshall-Wetzel-Tyler AFL-CIO, and the Iron Workers Local Union No. 549.
Why do you want to be the county's assessor and what makes you qualified?
Hoskins: I want to continue to serve the residents of Wetzel County. My current duties as sheriff and treasurer will allow me to transition comfortably to the position of Assessor. I want to bring the same level of service and dedication to the Assessor's Office.
I have 14 years of supervisory experience including the responsibilities of managing budgets, writing grants, schedules, revenue, and other financial matters. As sheriff and treasurer I developed many new programs like the Officers in the Schools and Safety Pup program for elementary students. I am currently working to further the Safety Awareness Program to help educate Wetzel County residents about home and personal safety. I have obtained grants to place a Prevention Resource Officer at Valley High School and placed an office inside of the New Martinsville School.
I have worked with county officials to increase revenue by obtaining higher percentage rates on bank CD's. I have worked to obtain reimbursement for out of county transports from other counties. I am updating the tax office so people can pay by use of debit/credit card and efforts are under way to make it more convenient for people to pay online.
King: I wish to be elected county Assessor as I have always had a burgeoning interest in county government. As an employee of the Assessor's Office for the past 18 years, I wish to put my experience and knowledge to work for you.
I believe that I am most qualified for the Office of Assessor. As a Real Estate Property Owner and taxpayer, I understand the impact property values place on the citizens, and duties of the Assessor are often misinterpreted and misunderstood. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the citizens of the county to elect an assessor with experience, intimate knowledge of property tax laws, tax codes, educated in real estate and office administration. I have demonstrated 20 years in public service, 18 of which having been in the Assessor's Office, serving as the Chief Deputy Assessor. In the absence of the current Assessor, serving in the capacity of the Assessor. In addition, I have demonstrated predominance in leadership and education of property appraisal and assessment and property tax administration. I feel that I can best represent the citizens, assist them with their concerns, assist them through the reappraisal process, the appeals process and any concerns that the assessor's office may be able to assist them with. The door is always open, and I will be there to assist you.
Lemley: I want to be the next Wetzel County Assessor because I care about Wetzel County and our citizens. I believe I am the best candidate for the position with my educational background and leadership abilities. Also, I am an honest and fair person. It is important to have a county assessor who will stand up for the best interests of the citizens during this important time in Wetzel County. I am qualified for this position because I have a Master Degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with majors in Finance and Management. Also, I have experience with property valuation as a loan officer and county commissioner, and I have the management qualities that are needed to operate the office. In addition, I have always done my best to help my constituents when a concern has been presented to me. It is my hope the citizens will look at my credentials and vote for me as the candidate with having the most quality experience to be the next Wetzel County Assessor.
If you are elected, are there any changes in the office you would like to make? What are they and why?
Hoskins: I want to create a more public friendly Assessor's Office. I want people to feel welcomed while seeking information or assistance from the Assessor's Office. I want to have an open door policy meaning that the door to the Assessor's Public Office is open and not closed so that people feel that the office staff can be approached without feeling like they are disturbing anyone.
I want people to come in to the office if they have an issue so that it can be discussed and looked into so that we can more efficiently serve the public and resolve any issue that may arise. I want to make sure that everyone is treated fairly and equally by the Assessor's Office. It is my goal to give respect to the people coming into the Assessor's Office that they deserve.
King: Most all elected offices' duties and procedures are mandated in WV Code. The Assessor's Office is no exception. Like most all public offices, everyone should strive for excellence in service as there is always room for improvement. The main objective is to best serve the citizens of whom you represent. Updated technology is on the rise, with the implementation of IAS World, making accessibility to the Assessor's information more easily available. Internet accessibility has been requested from most county assessors. I am not opposed to the release of the information. However, I believe that the citizens should have a say in what information is to be released, the contents of the information, and have assurance that their privacy and safety has not been hindered. In addition, the digitized mapping project, through cooperation with the State Tax Department, (GIS) is progressing well, and is in the near future for use in the office for updating and maintaining tax map parcels.
Lemley: If elected, the assessor's office main priority will be customer service. I think there is always a need to find better ways to improve how we communicate and handle the needs of the citizens we represent. The assessor's office will continue to be utilized by the public if needed via telephone and/or walking into the office at the courthouse. An additional service I want to make available to the public is the accessibility of information via the internet. For example, if a citizen needs to research a land book page or obtain a farm discount form, I want to work with the staff and county commission to make this information available online. The assessor's office belongs to the citizens of Wetzel County, and the questions of the public should be answered in a respectful manner. If elected, I will make sure to lead the office with transparent and accountable behavior.
The assessor's job requires a great deal of organization, understanding of state rules, and dealing with the public. Can you give one or two specific examples in your life that exhibit those needed qualities?
Hoskins: As sheriff and treasurer I have had to organize and plan around two offices (law enforcement and tax). Part of this organization means to employ people that are capable of handling duties and responsibilities assigned to them by me. The past several years have been spent knowing and understanding state law and rules as Sheriff I have to understand those rules and apply those rules to the day to day responsibilities of the sheriff's office. As Treasurer I must understand the complexity of tax law and have qualified people in the office that also understand those laws.
During most of my life and specifically as a supervisor I have had to relate to the public's issues and concerns. Not all the time can people agree on certain issues or problems, but I have to be able to make attempts to work through any problems and issues that may arise with the public. It is my job as a public figure to serve residents to the best of my ability and find the most correct and fair way to resolve any issues or concerns that may be presented to me according to State Code.
King: My current employment as Chief Deputy Assessor in the Wetzel County Assessor's Office requires a great deal of organization, not only for myself, but the employees as well. I must stay abreast of the current state rules, as well as the amendments to the current rules. I assist the public on a daily basis with any questions and concerns they may have and make every effort to satisfy their needs.
As a full-time mother/parent, wife, I maintain an organized household. I am a role model for my children by demonstrating the necessities of rules and responsibilities and why we should follow them and also by teaching them to be considerate and respectful to others and their needs.
Lemley: I have been a public servant for 12 years and I was in banking as a branch manager and lender for six years. I understand the meaning of delivering outstanding customer service. Also, I understand the importance of organization skills through grant writing, maintaining a budget, operating a bank branch, and being a leader in the other public offices I have held. With every public office I have held, the need exists to understand state law and regulation. For example, WV Code 7-1-3 is titled the jurisdiction, powers, and duties of a county commissioner. Also, when we have grants approved, the West Virginia Development Office has reporting requirements dealing with regulation and statute that must be followed. The state code as it relates to the assessor's office can be found under Chapter 11 Article 2. The time and basis for assessments can be found under WV Code Chapter 11 Article 3. The assessment of real property can be found under WV Code Chapter 11 Article 4. The assessment for personal property can found under WV Code Chapter 11 Article 5. The homestead exemption statute can be found under WV Code 11-6B-3. The above referenced code sections are examples of the statutes followed by the assessor's office.