By Rachel Baldwin
WILLIAMSON - The race for the two Mingo County Commission seats that are on the 2014 ballot is predicted to be the “hot topic” of this year’s election, as incumbents Greg “Hootie” Smith and Mike Carter face off against their opponents, Lonnie Hannah and “Big Jim” Hatfield.
Smith is currently completing his third term in office while Carter is a newcomer, having been appointed in late 2013 to the seat left vacant after former commissioner David Baisden resigned after entering a guilty plea in federal court to extortion charges.
Hannah was previously elected to the office of sheriff for two terms, and challenged Baisden in the 2012 election for the commission seat. Hatfield, who has been elected to the county clerk’s position for five consecutive terms, previously served as a commissioner for a period just short of 12 years.
Smith and Hannah will face off for the six-year term in office, while Carter and Hatfield battle it out for the four years remaining on Baisden’s unexpired term.
The Daily News spoke with Hatfield on Friday in the clerk’s office, and asked him about his choice to run for the office of commissioner and leave behind his position of county clerk, should he be successful in his race.
“I know that I can do more for the county as a commissioner than I can as a county clerk,” Hatfield said. “I have almost 12 years of experience in that position and I know I will once again do an excellent job for the people of Mingo County.”
“I will be taking a cut in pay if I win the election, and that in itself tells you it’s not about the money to me, it’s about putting the needs in the county in front of my own. We’ve got some big problems here … they need to be taken care of, and that’s exactly what I intend to do,” Hatfield said.
“I want to be in the position where I can do the most good. Anyone that knows me will tell you I’ve never used my position to feather my own nest. I pass out drinks and food to employees, friends and visitors to the courthouse every day, and not one penny that was spent on these items came from the county … it came out of my own pocket and that’s the way it should be. Taxpayers’ money should benefit the entire county, not a select few.”
“We owe it to the citizens of this county to serve them in a truthful manner, be forthcoming of everything going on instead of making behind-the-door deals and decisions,” he said. “The public elects us to serve them, not the other way around.”