WILLIAMSON - Monday morning, Mingo County Commissioners John Mark Hubbard and Greg “Hootie” Smith, along with the County Attorney, Glen Rutledge, began the interview process for the fourteen individuals who have applied for the position of the County Commission seat that has been vacant since the resignation of David Baisden, who plead guilty to extortion charges in federal court.
Also being interviewed were six applicants who applied to be the next County Prosecutor, a position that had been held since 2005 by C. Michael Sparks, who resigned and is expected to plea to a misdemeanor charge in federal court on November 18.
Originally, the plan was to accept resumes and mission statements through November 1 and to announce the commissioner’s choice to fill the vacant slots on Nov. 20, but that date has now been changed to tomorrow, Nov. 6.
The applicants for commissioner were being interviewed in the order in which they applied and were scheduled in 30 minute increments, beginning at 9 a.m. The interviews were closed to the public. Those who expressed interest in the commission seat and met eligibility requirements are as follows:
Benjamin Cisco, Matthew Ramey, Lonnie Hannah, Hester Keatley, Johnny Maynard, Gabe Muncy, Aaron Cozmyc, Rocky Noe, Dave Farley, Marnin Vernatter, Mike Carter, Shelia Kessler, William “Bill” Duty and Ronnie Blankenship.
A total of six attorneys have applied for the prosecutor’s seat; Robert Carlton, Joe Spradling, Wesley White, Benjamin White, Jonathan “Duke” Jewell and Teresa Maynard, who was appointed temporarily to that seat. This position is unlike any other elected seat within Mingo County and has one rule not shared by others, that being that you are not required to live within the county as long as you are a West Virginia resident and are in good standing with the State Bar Association, and of the Democratic Party (you must be of the same political party as the person you are replacing).
Following the interview process, the commissioners and their attorney will begin the difficult task of choosing the applicant they feel will be the best choice to represent the residents of the county, and who they believe has the best interest of the public at heart and want to do what is right.
The Williamson Daily News spoke with members of the public about the upcoming appointments to office, asking what they believe will take place and what - if anything - would they like to see done differently.
“To be honest, I’m not comfortable with the two remaining commissioners choosing Dave’s replacement,” remarked Mark Maynard, a resident of Williamson. “I believe they will choose someone that will be a “yes man” to them and won’t go against the grain. I hope I’m wrong because our county deserves the most qualified applicant not someone’s buddy, so I guess all we can do is wait and see.”
Pamela Gooslin, of Matewan, stated that she has little faith that the right thing will be done on Wednesday, and fears that the federal investigators are taking people out of office that are being replaced by others with a political agenda and hopes for personal gain for themselves, saying the county is simply replacing one bad seed with another.
“I would like to see these applicants interviewed by people with no connection to Mingo County whatsoever,” said Gooslin. “Why couldn’t the WV State Commission Board have conducted them?” she asked. “That way, no one could say that the new commissioner was chose for the wrong reasons and the same goes for prosecutor, they should have been chose by a panel of attorney’s not affiliated with our county.”
“I pray for our county every single night, and I hope that my prayers will be heard and answered,” Gooslin said. “John Mark and Hootie are under the microscope of everyone who lives here, and I hope they remember that when they make their decisions.”
“Do what’s right, and nothing can come back to bite you later.”
“I think they’ll do what’s right and choose the best person for the job,” said Marlyn Jarrell, of Naugatuck. “I think everyone is afraid to do anything wrong right now, and I have faith that the right person will be picked from the list regardless of who they hang with politically.”
The appointments will be announced tomorrow, Nov. 6, at the 9 a.m. County Commission meeting. According to a member of their office personnel, the reasoning behind changing the date from the 20th to the 6th to choose Baisden’s and Sparks’ replacements was to comply with a State code that stipulates that the positions must be filled within a 30 day period.