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Tyler County Candidates Pledge Better Service

By Staff | May 4, 2016

MIDDLEBOURNE – The Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce and West Virginia Northern Community College hosted a Tyler County candidate forum on Monday at the Senior Citizens Center.

The primary election will be May 10. The Tyler Star News will provide complete coverage of the results.

Candidates ranging from assessor to prosecutor opened with a few remarks regarding their biography and qualifications to serve.

Republican county commission candidate Eric Vincent, a longtime banker, took a moment to thank his mother, Barbara, for raising him. On that note, Mother’s Day is Sunday. He gave credit to his mother for instilling in him the values of public service a message that would be echoed throughout the evening by various candidates in one way or another.

“She never taught me the word ‘no’,” said Vincent, who is seeking a second term as commissioner. “I’m grateful for that.”

Vincent discussed doing more “to take care of the county’s senior citizens” while balancing the needs of other groups and projects through a sound fiscally conservative approach. He said the commission will continue to work hard toward interacting with people to better serve their needs.

Arnold Schoolcraft is running as a Democrat for county commission. In general terms, Schoolcraft laid out his platform of preserving the county home, supporting senior citizens, repairs and renovations at the Jugg, improving cellphone service and adding more water lines to areas in need.

“I think it can be done if everyone works together,” he said.

Speaking of Schoolcraft, he mentioned how the Tyler Rod and Gun Club is sponsoring 16th annual “Kids Fishing Day” on May 7 at Conway Lake. The theme of the day will be “Hooked on fishing, not on drugs.” Youngsters between ages one to 15 years of age will become more aware of the enjoyment of fishing and natural resources in Tyler County. During the event, there will be discussion of how drugs can and will affect every aspect of a person’s life, said Schoolcraft, a key organizer of the event.

Illegal drugs and their effect on crime is the perfect lead-in to the sheriff’s race. Three candidates have their name on the ballot. Chief Deputy Dean Pratt and Brian Weigle are seeking the Republican nod for the county’s top law enforcement officer. Trevor Tallman is the Democratic candidate.

All three candidates expressed the need to do more to combat the county’s drug problem.

Pratt, who has been a deputy for more than 18 years with the sheriff’s office, has served on the front lines of the drug war by conducting countless investigations that have led to arrests and convictions. A certified law enforcement officer, Pratt said, he will continue to pursue the high standards for the sheriff’s office. He pledged that if elected, all calls to the sheriff’s department a 24/7 operation will continue to be addressed in a timely manner.

So as to gain more knowledge about how to curb drug activity, Pratt said he will continue to seek increased communication between the sheriff’s office and citizens, churches, schools, the court system and county government.

Weigle is a Mon Power lineman, who is a key organizer of many of the county’s major fairs and festivals. He said communication is the key between the sheriff’s department and the community so as to learn more.

“We need to communicate with people to find out what people are thinking,” said Weigle, who pledged more interaction between the sheriff’s department and the public if he is elected. “I know how to communicate with people.”

Tallman, a prominent local businessman with a state Department of Corrections background, said, “If you build dialogue, things will move forward.” He pledged to “lead by example” and be actively engaged in the community.

Speaking of law enforcement, the county’s magistrate court plays a key role as part of the justice system. Non-partisan candidates for District 1 Magistrate are Earl Kendle Jr., and Mary Dotson. Kendle is a longtime lawman who currently serves as sheriff. Before Dotson was appointed as a magistrate in January 2015 by Second Judicial Circuit Court Judge Mark Karl, she served as a magistrate assistant for 19 years.

Kendle can not run for sheriff because of term limits, but he wants to continue to serve the public. Kendle said because of his 38 years of law enforcement experience, he has a solid working knowledge of the court system. As to Kendle’s approach to the law if elected as a magistrate, “Each case is different, so it will be judged fairly, impartially and on its own merits.”

Dotson advocates using the law as written, but also employing “a common sense approach” while looking at the facts when applying and enforcing the law.”

Mike Griffin is running unopposed for re-election as District 2 Magistrate. Like Dotson, he said he the magistrate’s office would continue to pursue an “open door policy” for citizens who may need assistance. He said the magistrate’s office can not offer advice, but it can point folks in the right direction for the answers they seek.

Kendle said while there’s always room for improvement when providing customer service or communication, he praised the magistrate’s office by saying “they do a good job.” Dotson said if elected, the magistrate’s office will continue improve customer service and communication.

Jack Hayes and Mike Galluzzo are Republican candidates for county assessor. Hayes, the incumbent, said he is qualified to serve not only because of his time as assessor, but due to the training the office demands. As assessor, Hayes said he has worked diligently to improve technology within the assessor’s office. More data is being recorded and computerized to make customer service better, he said. Hayes said if re-elected, he will continue to

Galluzzo is a former Tyler Star News publisher and longtime Ogden Newspapers employee. He touted his management background and knowledge of the community. If elected, Galluzzo stressed that he would offer a high level of customer service and pledged to have dedicated office hours and promises to return all calls. He wants to be a problem solver who seeks to be fair, honest and sees to it that most people are satisfied with the quality of service provided by the assessor’s office.

Republican candidates for county clerk are Neil Archer II and Teresea Hamilton, the incumbent. Hamilton, who has more than two decades of experience in county government, said if elected to a second term as clerk, she will continue to pursue three goals: preserve records, more staff cross-training, and move/improve Estates to give families a more private place to do their planning. She pledged to continue to set goals and make decisions that will take the clerk’s office into the next century.

Hamilton pledged that the clerk’s office will continue to work for the people.

“I’m here for you and you alone,” she said.

Archer has worked for more than 26 years at Witschey’s Market in Middlebourne. As the store’s assistant manager, Archer is responsible for 30 employees who work for a store that is open 365 days a year, so he stressed that his management experience and people-skills would be assets if elected as clerk. Archer said he “decided it was time” to pursue public office and that he’s up to new challenges. He pledged to “work hand-in-hand with people and hear what their needs are.”