Candidates Share Platforms At Auxiliary Forum
Several candidates, vying for a May 8 victory, took to the podium April 20 and shared their platforms and plans for the future. The event was the Tyler County Unit 48 Auxiliary’s Meet the Candidates forum. Tyler County Board of Education candidates Julia Bolin, Katrina Byers, and Dave Roberts were in attendance. Republicans David Kelly and Alex King, along with Democrat Chris Combs were also in attendance. The three are campaigning to represent the Sixth Delegate District at the state level.
Independent Scott Beaver was also in attendance. Beaver has just announced his candidacy for the House of Delegates.
Tyler County Commission candidates present were Charlie Delauder, Roseanne Eastham, Mike Galluzzo, Mike Smith, and Steve Thomas.
Board of education candidates spoke on a variety of issues, including substance abuse prevention, anti-bullying initiatives, and their own experiences that make each of them qualified for one of the three board seats available.
Julia Bolin said she is “passionate” about education; she noted there are learning opportunities available to everyone, everyday.
Bolin spoke of her work within Tyler County Schools, teaching nutrition education to elementary students as an employee of the West Virginia University Extension Service.
Bolin currently is employed as a Nutrition Outreach Instructor.
Bolin volunteers at the Tyler County Public Library, serves as a board member for the Tyler County FRN, and participates in the Tyler County Schools Wellness Committee. She is also past president of the Tyler County Master Gardeners.
Katrina Byers spoke of her work as director of the Family Resource Network; she noted she has held substance abuse programs for children as young as elementary school-aged. She also spoke of her involvement with Students Against Destructive Decisions and Super Teens Achieving Regional Success. She noted the importance of volunteer work and being a parent volunteer.
Dave Roberts said he noticed three spots open on the board of education and saw the opportunity to give a new set of eyes and ears to the board, through his perspective.
He said he is open to anyone who has a question or a problem. He noted he has already talked to parents to see what they want in the school. Through those discussions, Robert said he has realized safety is a concern. He noted although the middle school and high schools each have a resource officer, the elementary schools do not. Roberts said he would like to see this changed.
Another concern of Roberts’ is bullying. He said there is no place in schools for bullying to take place. “Any instance will be taken seriously with a swift investigation,” Roberts said.
Democrat Chris Combs said he is a union electrician who has volunteered. He noted anyone who has been a flood victim has probably met him through his volunteer services.
Combs thanked the Lord for taking care of him all his life. He also thanked the public for showing up to the candidates’ forum. “It shows you care. You are here on your own time and want to make sure I care as much as you do.”
Combs said his goal is clarity. He said his constituents are his “main focus.” He described Right to work as “a bold-faced lie.”
Combs said he travels all the roads in his district and sees license plates of workers from places such as Florida and Utah. “You can’t tell me we don’t have men and women for those jobs,” Combs said. He noted he would like to see oil and gas internships available to better equip workers for jobs in the industry.
Combs said he would work hard to give West Virginia hope again.
David Kelly, candidate for West Virginia Sixth District Delegate, started his remarks by saying he is firm in his stance of being pro-life and supporting the Second Amendment. Kelly recapped his previous experience in public service, such as when he served as deputy sheriff and sheriff in Pleasants County. Kelly said because of this experience, he knows the needs of law enforcement. He said officers are underpaid and undermanned.
Kelly said, as delegate, he will work in Charleston for rehabilitation opportunities and penalties for drug users.
Kelly recognized his wife, Jan, saying she is his “number one fan,” and “my right arm.”
As to the decision to run for the delegate position, Kelly said he began receiving phone calls, encouraging him to run. He said he decided to pray about the decision, talk to his family, and talk to his church family. After receiving affirmations from each area, Kelly said he threw his hat into the ring. He said he doesn’t think he is better than anyone else, but he thinks he is qualified.
As a current commissioner, Kelly said he serves with the area Work Force, which gives the opportunity to connect people with jobs. Also in his time as commissioner, Kelly has communicated with Office of Emergency Management Director Tom Cooper of the Local Emergency Planning Committee. Kelly said he has toured Cooper’s facility, which helps make sure the county has all it needs to respond to a disaster.
Kelly said he has also worked with Eric Peters, of the county’s Development Authority. Kelly spoke of the vision the Development Authority has and its recent initiatives to bring broadband to the area.
Kelly noted that, as a representative, he cannot say “yes” to everyone. He noted the importance of fiscal responsibility. He also expressed the importance of the upcoming election.
“It matters,” he said.
Alex King, Republican candidate for the West Virginia Sixth District Delegate position, recapped his government experience. King has served as an activities director for Middlebourne Parks and Recreation, member of Sistersville Park Board, and member of Sistersville Ferry Board. He currently serves on Sistersville Council.
King said his initiative for the delegate seat began as a councilman. He said Sistersville General Hospital was facing a crisis as it faced closure due to financial woes. King said he sought advice from a government representative. “They said to contact them after the election.” King said the hospital is a big deal; not only do its services save lives, but it is a local jobs provider.
“If we went under, the town would go bankrupt.”
King noted there are more issues to be deal with at the state level, such as the tax lien system and a Public Service Commission that “doesn’t help keep rates low.”
King criticized the government’s bidding process as well, and he also noted the current drug abuse epidemic.
“We have to restore faith that something can be done. I know people who have gotten better. Not everyone can say that.”
Furthermore, King noted necessary infrastructure improvements. Of phone service, he stated, “We can provide incentives. Let companies come in. Increase competition, and the consumer wins.”
King said his position as a delegate would be a full-time job. He noted, when not in Charleston, he would be in the area of his constituency, gaining insight.
Mr. Scott Beaver also spoke at the April 20 forum, as an Independent candidate. Beaver said he has been a Republican, and he has been a Democrat. He said he served in the military and then became a union member. He said the Democrats then began “going the ways of special interests.”
Beaver said, while in the military, he worked on fighter jets and volunteered for extra duties. Upon his return to the states, he went to Florida for a while and then came back to West Virginia. Beaver said he attended college in Parkersburg and then took the opportunity to work at Conalco. He said when he saw the downfall of Ormet, he then went to work at PPG and became a chemical operator. Beaver said he has areas of expertise he can draw upon and has “been around the working man.”
Beaver said last year he became upset and had an article published in a local paper. The article said residents are being treated the same by gas companies as they were by coal companies. Beaver proposed gas be taxed heavier if going out of the state, and even heavier if it is being transported out of the country.
Beaver said as a delegate, it would not be his job to push his agenda. “My job is to carry your message,” he said.
Charlie Delauder, a Democrat candidate for county commission, noted the importance of the commission helping everyone in the county.
He said, as mayor, he was faced with the tough decision to recommend increasing water rates. Delauder said water and sewer boards were required to have one-eighth of their total operating budget available as cash reserve at all times. Middlebourne’s board did not have this.
Delauder said he had approached the commission to request help, so that the citizens would not have to suffer this burden. Delauder said the commission was not willing to help.
In other matters, Delauder said the commission needs to be more open and accessible. He said commission meets twice a month, in the morning. Delauder said he would recommended one evening meeting a month.
Delauder said, as mayor of Middlebourne, he helped secure $3.3 million to help the town. He also secured funds immediately to repair the roof of the Stealey Green center when it was was damaged.
Delauder also recollected on his initiative to tear down the pink building on Main Street, Middlebourne. He noted he had wanted to see the property devoted to a park to honor Veterans.
Also, Delauder noted, he has experience on the county’s Planning Committee and Development Authority. He noted these organizations are concerned about larger businesses; however, he would like to see initiatives to help smaller businesses.
His platform also includes expanding water, cellular, and broadband services through the county. Of the first-mentioned, he noted, “It is 2018. No one should have to haul water.”
Roseanne Eastham, Republican candidate for commission, said she wants to work on getting what people want and need.
Eastham expressed, with pride, of how friendly Tyler County is. Eastham, born and raised in Pittsburgh, said folks will hold open the door for one another in Tyler County. She said this was not the case in Pittsburgh.
Eastham, long-time director of the Tyler County Public Library, explained how, during her time at the library, tax-based funding has increased from $1,500 a year to $32,000 a year. Eastham’s efforts to obtain state funding, along with fundraising, also yielded an additional structure to the library, to add space.
“We need to bring Tyler County into the 21st century,” Eastham said of her platform, noting that, where she lives, there is no cellular service. Landline service is also unstable.
Eastham also used her time to voice her support for the Fire and EMS levies.
Mike Galluzzo, Republican candidate for commission, first thanked the auxiliary for organizing the April 20 forum.
Galluzzo said he was not a lifelong resident of Tyler County but “chose to live here.”
He said both of his children have moved away from Tyler County; he expressed how this is “a shame.”
Galluzzo said jobs need to be brought back to the county. He said small business is what made America.
He then recollected his work history, noting his rise in management as an employee of Ogden. He said he has been responsible for employees he has managed. He also has budgeting experience. Galluzzo also noted his experience as a sales representative. He said he has interacted with people in different areas of the county and knows what they need.
Galluzzo said the current commission has done good work but it can be “improved upon.” Galluzzo said the internet can be faster; cell service is bad, and “lots of people are still hauling water.” Galluzzo also noted the area’s issue with drug abuse and how he would work with law enforcement to figure out what is needed to combat this problem.
Mike Smith, Republican candidate for commission, welcomed residents to call him. He said his number is in the phone book.
Smith said during his work with the electricity company, he has noticed how houses in the area have “grass grown up” around them, along with For Sale signs posted. He said he has family members who have moved away from the area. He said he has seen “fit to raise kids here,” and he hopes his children will do the same.
Besides oil and gas development, Smith said he also wants to see small businesses thrive.
He said he wants to see water projects accelerated. He said he notices residents still hauling city water.
“We need water, gas, and cell service.”
Besides encouraging folks to plant roots in Tyler County, Smith is also focused on safety. He expressed the importance of voting for the Fire and EMS levies.
Smith said he is on the Board of Directors for the WV Christian Youth Camp; he is also on the Board of Directors for the county’s farm bureau.
Steve Thomas, Republican candidate for commission, said people need to stop in Tyler County, not just pass through.
Thomas left West Virginia in 1996 and moved out West; he has since returned.
During his time in the West, Thomas served as a pastor in the Church of God and also served as a missionary. “I’ve seen poverty and riches,” Thomas noted.
Thomas said he is tired of the state and the county being last in rankings. He said he recollected Governor Jim Justice saying he was tired of the state being 50th in rankings throughout the country. “My answer is, what are you going to do?”
Thomas said, when living out West, he had the opportunity to serve on various organizations. He served on the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development, City Council, committees of the South Dakota Municipal League, and more. Through his missionary work and previous work on governmental organizations, Thomas fought for better infrastructure. he said he would do the same for Tyler County as a commissioner.
Thomas said as a commissioner, he will fight for Tyler County before the state legislature. He said as a representative on the county commission, he will believe in Tyler County. He said Tyler County is at a crucial moment, to choose a leader.
“I can tell you, come Jan. 1, my business degree will be your business degree.”
Thomas said he will work more than 40 hours a week as a commissioner for the county.