Local Events Give Candidates Public Forum
The Wileyville Fire Hall was fairly packed Monday night for the Wetzel County Farm Bureau’s annual candidates night. Approximately 70 people attended the event that gave congressional and local candidates a chance to tell a little about themselves, answer some questions, and meet their constituents.
Five of the six Republican candidates for the First Congressional seat currently held by Democrat Alan Mollohan were represented. There in person were Patricia Levenson, David McKinley, Tom Stark, and Mac Warner. Sarah Minear was represented by Gloria Hickman, manager of the candidate’s Parkersburg headquarters.
Levenson was born in Fairmont but now lives in Wheeling. From a modest background, Levenson said she comes from a long line of hard workers and that is exactly what she will bring to the office. “They’re going to be sorry I woke up in the morning,” said Levenson of her fellow legislators when she is in office because she will be that difficult on the floor of Congress, saying this is no time for fun and games.
McKinley is a seventh-generation Wheeling resident who owns a civil engineering firm there. His whole life he has tried to understand how he can help people. His firm hopes to create jobs and bring people back to the area. “We’re showing that it can work here in West Virginia,” said McKinley. He believes in getting government out of the way so the private sector can create jobs, cutting government spending, and protecting the coal industry and miners.
Stark is a small business owner in Parkersburg with a 40-year career in problem solving. “I’m going to jump in and try to make a difference in Washington,” he said. Stark is running on a platform of the Constitution, limited government, and a fair tax system.
While Hickman offered little about her candidate, she did say Minear answers all of her own e-mails and would welcome interaction with voters through that method. Also, the Parkersburg headquarters at 3653 Murdock Avenue will host an open house with Minear Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. All are encouraged to attend.
Warner offered that his military background makes him eligible to run for office. Having been educated at the country’s expense, he expects to return the favor by way of service with pride in the congressman’s office. He is a small business owner from Morgantown.
When asked what part of the current health care bill they would keep, the Congressional candidates offered varied answers. Stark said the only part he would support is primary care clinics be made able to bill a monthly flat fee. That method has been successful where it has been tried, he said. McKinley liked the provision about being able to obtain insurance across state lines. Warner simply said the bill “went in the entirely wrong direction” and government needs to get out of the health care business. Levenson wants everyone to be able to be covered, eliminating the ability to drop customers for illness or deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Democrat house of delegates candidates Ron Anderson and incumbent Dave Pethtel also attended the event.
Anderson said he has been married for 59 years to Sally Bolen. He worked for 37 years as a coal miner at the McElroy mine, serving as union president for approximately eight years, and ran Anderson’s Grocery in Jacksonburg for 18 years.
The lifelong Wetzel County resident offers hard work and a reasonable approach to solutions. He wants to support the Land Owners’ Bill of Rights, see primarily and secondary roads maintained, keep senior benefits, ban sex offenders from school property, and work with educators on issues.
Pethtel said he has offered excellent constituent service and always tries to get back to residents with an answer. He said the legislature has phased out and cut several taxes. “We are paying our bills on time,” said Pethtel. Also, 14 percent of the general revenue budget is in a rainy day fund.
The current delegate listed his endorsements from groups like labor, business, law enforcement, West Virginians for Life, Chesapeake Energy, and Dominion. “Those people have respect for me with the relationship we’ve developed over the years,” said Pethtel. It does not mean he’ll always agree with them. Instead he will make an intelligent, respectful decision. He added, “I am not happy with what’s going on with the roads in Wetzel County and West Virginia.”
While running unopposed, Sen. Larry Edgell (D-Wetzel) was in attendance and thanked everyone for their past support and asked for it in the future.
Wetzel County Commissioner Don Mason, facing a challenge from Keith Nelsen, said he “has a love in my heart for Wetzel County.” The main responsibility of a commissioner, said Mason, is fiscal responsibility. in recent years, he said, the county has finished each year “way in the black”. He said that is a credit to the commissioners and other elected county officials. Mason also added that he is at the courthouse everyday “taking care of your business.”
Nelsen called and said he had to work late and would not be able to attend the candidates’ forum.
Another contested race in Wetzel County is for the Circuit Clerk’s position.
Incumbent Sharon Yoho Dulaney is facing Carla Neely Wade on the Democratic ticket.
Wade said she has worked for the past 10 years as a social worker, helping people cope with stress and difficulties. She is aware of community resources available to help people facing troubles. Wade offered that the county needs elected officials with such skills, adding that she would train the circuit clerk’s staff in mental and emotional skills.
Dulaney has 18 years experience in the circuit clerk’s office and has served in the position for 11-and-a-half years.
“Those attributes (speaking of social worker skills), while good, have no place in the circuit clerk’s office,” said Dulaney. “The law forbids us to educate or give any legal advice whatsoever.” She added that she believes an elected official’s life should be that of an upstanding citizen so people can look up to them.
Incumbent Carol Haught, Democrat county clerk, who is running unopposed, gave a thorough description of the duties of her office. “Your vote and support are important to me,” said Haught. She also expressed a concern for low voter turnout. When she began the job it was about 60 percent and the last election saw less than a 40 percent turnout. Haught reminded that early voting will take place April 21 to May 8.
Finally, local candidates for state and magisterial executive committees who were in attendance were recognized: Nelda Kocher Glover, Scott Lemley, Sandra McBee, and Ralph Strippel.
Refreshments were available on a donation basis with all proceeds given to the Morgantown Ronald McDonald House.