(Editor's Note: The Wetzel Chronicle mailed questions to all political candidates in this race. Their responses are printed in a simple question and answer format.)
Democrat John Brookover and the Constitution Party's Jeffrey Frank Jarrell are facing off for the office of Wetzel County Sheriff.
Brookover served as a Wetzel County deputy for over 26 years. A native of Wetzel County, he graduated from Magnolia and then attended West Liberty before enlisting in the Marine Corps. He served four years and is a Vietnam veteran, honorably discharged.
Brookover worked construction before returning to New Martinsville. "I have served five different sheriffs and has learned from all of them," said Brookover. "The knowledge I gained from them, my experience as a deputy, and the trainings I have received, will help me be a knowledgeable and efficient manager of our county's assets. I have travelled the roads in Wetzel County and have worked in every area of the county. One of my main concerns is providing a safe county for all its citizens, and especially for our young people. My association and work with several judges and attorneys has also prepared me to better serve the citizens of Wetzel County. I have tried to keep current with the changes in Wetzel County and the state, including tax changes, property re-evaluations, grants, and drilling activities."
He is am married to Linda Hohman and they have four sons, all graduates of Magnolia. Brookover is a member of Moose Lodge #931, the VFW, American Legion, and attend the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.
Jarrell was born in Fort Meade, Md., and raised near New Martinsville with his parents and sister. He currently lives in Wileyville. He has been married for 32 years and has three children, over six grandchildren, and over three great-grandchildren.
He graduated from Magnolia in 1975 and attended Jefferson County Technical Institute for one year.
He worked at a service station as a full service attendant for one year, as an auto mechanic for one-and-a-half years, as a laborer and mechanic for one-and-a-half years, and is currently employed at Ormet Primary Aluminum Corporation where he have been working for 34 years. He is a member of Local 5724, United Steel Workers of America. While at Ormet, he has worked as a laborer for two years, a heavy equipment/overhead crane operator for 10 years, and as a millwright and other associated jobs for 22 years.
He has been a trustee, vice chairman, and chairman of the Constitution Party of West Virginia. He ran for sheriff in 2008, is the shootboss for the Appleseed Project, and have studied the Erin Rommel School of Law.
He is a member of the Constitution Party of West Virginia, the NRA, the Gun Owners of America, the United States Concealed Carry Association, USWA Local 5724, Oath Keepers, and the Constitutional Sheriff's and Peace Officers Association.
He says he has been influenced by God, his parents, grandparents, teachers, founding fathers, the Constitution, John Glen, Neil Armstrong, Chuck Yeager, Thomas Edison, Nicoli Tesla, John F. Kennedy, and Sheriff Richard Mack.
What changes would you like to make in your first year in office, if elected?
Brookover: First, I want to make certain the Sheriff's office is fiscally responsible. Thanks to Sheriff M.L. Koontz for his efforts to begin doing so, as well as implementing other needed procedures. As far as personnel and programs in which the office is involved, as I stated in my talks for the primary election, I foresee no major changes. However, every program and every officer will be responsible for maintaining efficiency, equipment, and direct use of personnel. Deputies are to serve the citizens of Wetzel County, first, and it is my job to see they are performing their duties. I plan to acquire some new patrol cars, because several of those we have are high mileage and the radios are outdated and not in compliance. Updating our current radio system is a must on my list of things to do. Only a few of our radios meet specifications, right now. We are supposed to be in compliance with the narrow band radio system on Jan. 1, from directives that were issued in 2004.
Jarrell: I want the best communication with all deputies that is possible. I will inspect and if needed, work toward upgrading communication. I want to bring the public into the process by having town-hall meetings to let people discuss in an open forum about situations within the county and to keep the public in the loop. I want to try to get more people qualified to carry a concealed weapon in order to reduce crime even more, as contrary to popular belief, it is a proven fact that when more people carry weapons, the crime rate drops. When concealed weapons are restricted, the crime rate rises. All deputies would have to go through the Appleseed Project for instruction in marksmanship and Revolutionary War history (how our country was formed and why.) I hope to start a "posse" of volunteers throughout the county to add to the eyes and ears of the sheriff's office and be a source of information about situations before any official is on the scene.
What would you do, as sheriff, to help combat our county's drug problem?
Brookover: I would like to form or be a part of a drug task force of law enforcement personnel from Marshall, Wetzel, and Tyler counties in West Virginia and Monroe County in Ohio; other law enforcement agencies in Wetzel County; State Police, who are involved in all three West Virginia counties; and other agencies that wish to be involved, including judges and probation officers, to name a few. It is essential that citizens of Wetzel County, and the other counties, also become involved, by reporting suspected drug activities they witness and to participate in education so that they are aware of what is happening in their individual areas, concerning drug use, distribution, etc.
Jarrell: I would try to educate our children and adults about the effects of drugs on the individual, the family, and the society, as well as the constitutional rights and obligations that we have in relationship to drugs. I want to decrease or eliminate arrests for victimless crimes, such as simple possessions. I want to inspect the previous work done to stop pushers and dealers and continue or modify in order to constitutionally stop the traffic of drugs in Wetzel County. It is not the duty of any officer to protect people from themselves, but it is the duty of society to help people make the right choices in life.
Do you think the sheriff's department needs to be more accessible and visible to the public? If so, how would you facilitate this accessibility/visibility?
Brookover: Yes. This was one of the most voiced complaints I heard. I have already stated that it is my job to see that deputies serve the citizens of Wetzel county, and visibility and accessibility is part of that. I want the deputies out in the county working with and talking to and listening to the citizens about their concerns. I addressed this issue in the primary election. Hopefully, we will be able to hire a secretary and bailiff which would afford people the opportunity to speak with someone when they call or visit the sheriff's office. Currently, if deputies are out in the field, there is no one in the office to answer the phone or admit people to the office. Additional deputies to help with road patrol and road investigations would also be beneficial.
Jarrell: Yes. I would make it a point to talk to many people throughout the county and have town-hall meetings where discussions, problems, and ideas would be heard by many. I would start an online and telephone conference/bulletin board. I would be open to have a meal and discuss problems in different parts of the county with families that invite me where I would discuss ideas to make the county better. Constitutional freedom through constitutional responsibility.