The Wetzel Chronicle mailed questions to all political candidates in the upcoming New Martinsville Municipal Election to be held May 13 in conjunction with the Primary Election. Their responses are being printed in the April 30 and May 6 editions of the Wetzel Chronicle in a simple question and answer format, candidates in alphabetical order by race.
None of the major races on the county ballot are contested until the General Election; we will print stories on those races at that time.
Early voting is now in progress, through May 10, in person at the Wetzel County Courthouse. Voting takes place between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday; 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Thursday; and 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Saturday. The period for absentee voting by mail is through May 9, with the last day to receive an application for absentee by mail being May 7.
Tim Cecil and Mike Thomas are vying for the position of New Martinsville’s Police Chief.
Two men are seeking the position of New Martinsville's Police Chief. Incumbent Tim Cecil is being challenged by former NMPD Officer and current Wetzel County Chief Deputy Sheriff Mike Thomas.
Cecil, 43, was born and raised in New Martinsville. His mother and step-father are Don and Shirley (Cecil) Newman and his father is Charles "Bud" Litton. Cecil added, "My late grandmothers, who I was very close to, are Golda Mae Cecil and Mae Litton."
Cecil graduated in 1988 from Magnolia High School. In 1991 he joined the U.S. Army where he served three years active duty and on to serve five years with the National Guard. In 1994, he attended West Virginia University of Parkersburg where he earned an associate's degree in criminal justice. "I began working at Ormet Primary Aluminum in 1996 until I was elected as Chief of Police in 2003 where I have now served this great city for 11 years," he noted.
"I have been happily married to Sardis native Maureen (Winkler) Cecil for 18 years. Together we have been very blessed with four beautiful children: three girls, Lakyn, Autumn, and Gabby, and a son, Kolbee," said Cecil.
He is a a member of the First Christian Church, Local Union #5724, Moose Lodge #931, and the WV Chiefs of Police Association. He is also an affiliated member of the Wetzel County Democratic League of Woman Voters.
Thomas also grew up in New Martinsville and graduated from Magnolia High School. "I have and continue to raise my family here," he stated. Thomas is married, has two grown sons, and a step-daughter who is now a sophomore at Magnolia. "I have a vested interest in the law enforcement challenges that now face our community," said Thomas.
He began his law enforcement career with the West Virginia Department of Corrections, attending the West Virginia Corrections Academy in 1985. He then attended the West Virginia State Police Academy in 1988 while serving as a Deputy Sheriff in Wetzel County. Thomas graduated as the valedictorian of the 68th Basic Class at the West Virginia State Police Academy. In 1991, he was hired by the City of New Martinsville as a police officer where he spent the next 22 years. "I have held the ranks of Patrolman, then Sergeant, and finally Captain at the New Martinsville Police Department," noted Thomas. "In 2013, I was offered and accepted a position as Chief Deputy Sheriff of Wetzel County, a position I still hold today.
"I am a trained, experienced, and professional police officer, not a politician. I look forward to serving the citizens of New Martinsville as your next police chief."
The next year's city budget does not include funding for a Prevention Resource Officer (PRO) at Magnolia High School. If elected, how would you deal with that situation? Do you feel PROs are important? Why?
Cecil: NMPD has already been addressing this situation and working on a solution. Over the last several years, NMPD may have been short staffed, but we currently have tested and hired, which will alleviate this problem. As difficult as this has been, it has taught us to be efficient in using manpower. We are now implementing a schedule that will provide a supervisor on each shift as well as our road officers. Our current Certified PRO, Capt. Steve Kastigar, will be the daytime supervisor and with the addition of another officer to that shift, he will be able to provide a portion of his time and still remain in the schools and connected with the PRO program.
I definitely believe that the PRO program is extremely important! It has had a positive impact and helped to build relationships with our young people which created positive results. We will continue to work closely with the school's administration and provide whatever resources we can to assist the staff at our schools and to provide the safest learning environment for our children. I am very proud and honored to have been involved hands on, with the implementation of the PRO program at Magnolia High School.
Thomas: First of all, I am disappointed that the City of New Martinsville chose not to fund the PRO program at Magnolia High School in the next school year. I believe it is an important program for the safety and security of our children. We need only to pick up a newspaper or watch the news to hear of school violence that can take place. Also, close contact between the PRO officer and the students and teachers is desirable in curbing many law enforcement issues in our school system. As police chief, I will do everything in my power to convince the City of New Martinsville officials of the importance of the PRO program and that the money spent on the PRO program to help protect our children is well worth it. Until the City of New Martinsville can again fund the PRO program, as your police chief, I would like to work with the Board of Education in placing police satellite offices in both schools, where officers can stop and do their paperwork, reports, crash reports, and the like, thus maintaining a police presence in the school system as often as possible for the safety of our children.
As Chief of Police, what would you do to fight the illegal drug problem?
Cecil: As Chief of Police, I will continue to fight the illegal drug problem with the same passion and determination I always have! Our community has had a lot of drug problems over the past several years. My officers and myself are constantly following up on tips and information we receive. We work together and share information with the Wetzel County Prosecutor's Office, other local and federal law enforcement agencies, and area tasks forces to do whatever we can to combat illegal drugs in our community. NMPD recently worked with the Wetzel County Prosecutor's Office, United States Postal Inspector, and Tyler County Sheriff's Department to seize $3,000 of bath salts from our post office that would have otherwise ended up on our streets. As we hire additional officers, we are able to do extra traffic enforcement which leads to additional contact with the public and further drug interdiction. By taking it one dealer at a time and one arrest at a time, we can and will make a difference! I would like to thank the citizens for their support and help. Please continue to express your concerns and NMPD will continue every effort to keep our town drug-free! Teamwork!
Thomas: My number one concern is drugs. Our community is under siege from drug abuse, and the other crimes associated with drug abuse. Our children are suffering. Drug abuse affects every member of our community to some degree. As your police chief, I will do everything in my power to better wage the war on drugs. I would like to form a multi-jurisdictional drug task force. Using contacts and information from all local law enforcement agencies, NMPD would be in a better position to more effectively deal with drug issues. The days of small local law enforcement agencies "going it alone" in the war on drugs are over. Multiple agencies working together have proven to be much more effective in building prosecutable cases against drug dealers. It has been my experience that drug dealers operate in multiple law enforcement jurisdictions simultaneously. I care not which police agency gets the credit for the arrest and prosecution of these individuals, so long as they are arrested and prosecuted. In my many years in law enforcement, I have made close contact with other local, county, and state agencies which will assist me in bringing this multi-jurisdictional drug task force into effect in our area.
Other than the issues already addressed above, what do you feel is the biggest problem, in regards to law enforcement, facing New Martinsville? How would you address it?
Cecil: I feel the biggest problem, in regards to law enforcement, facing New Martinsville is our police budget, especially for equipment. After a yearly battle, city council finally addressed the salary situation, making us competitive again with other departments. Department morale is very high right now and I expect that to continue. However, we are in need of new portable radios, weapons, tasers, and being able to keep our fleet updated and monies are very hard to come by. I also feel it is crucial to add a couple more officers, in addition to the recently hired, to NMPD if and when we can. New Martinsville is a changing town and we cannot police it by 1980's standards or budget! There are no easy answers, but I look forward to working with the police committee to find solutions to these problems. By dealing with one issue at a time, I am confident that we will be able to provide our officers with what they need to effectively and safely do their jobs! Again, I would like to thank you for the support you have given me and NMPD over the years and I look forward to continuing as your chief!
Thomas: Other than the problems listed above, I feel traffic law enforcement is of a great concern and another major problem law enforcement needs to deal with in New Martinsville. Red light violations, stop sign violations, cell phone violations, school zone speeders, West Virginia residents with out-of-state license plates, suspended driver's licenses, etc. The list is nearly endless. As your police chief, New Martinsville police officers will be encouraged to be more aggressive in their traffic law enforcement. Along with making our streets safer to travel, aggressive traffic law enforcement leads to other non-traffic offenses found by officers after making the initial traffic stop. By far, most drug arrests in West Virginia are made after a vehicle is stopped for traffic law violations. Trained officers refer to this tactic as "looking beyond the ticket". Traffic stops are another tool that can be used to curb drug abuse in our community.