By RACHEL C. DOVE
WILLIAMSON - Approximately 30 candidates for county and state offices were given the opportunity to address the crowd Saturday morning during the Mingo County Democratic Women’s “Meet the Candidates” breakfast, held inside the Williamson Fire Department.
Although the majority centered their speeches solely on subjects such as their qualifications and what prompted them to seek office, there were those who spoke in a firmer tone of voice as they defended themselves against campaign “mudslinging” that according to most anyone you ask has become the “norm” for the political arena.
Curt Fletcher, a former public official who is probably best known for his many years of success as the former Williamson High School basketball coach directed the event for the Democratic women, and took a moment to remind those in attendance how important it is to exercise your right to vote for the candidate of your choice.
The following is a list of candidates who spoke, including several incumbents, listed by name and the office to which they are seeking election:
Marvin Vernatter (House of Delegates), Robert Carlton (Prosecuting Attorney), Jim Harvey (Magistrate), Leslie Hobbs (B.O.E.), Mike Mitchem (State Senate), J.D. Beane (WV Supreme Court), Walt Helmick (Commissioner of Agriculture), Mark Colegrove (B.O.E.), James Lusk (House of Delegates), Dave Farley (B.O.E.), Nathan Brown (House of Delegates), Charles “Butch” West (Prosecuting Attorney), James Smith (Sheriff), Greg Moore (B.O.E.), Lonnie Hannah (County Commission), Dee Sidebottom (Magistrate), Donald Stevens (Sheriff), Nick Joe Rahall (U.S. Congress), Art Kirkendoll (Senate), Harry Keith White (House of Delegates), Justin Marcum (House of Delegates), C. Michael Sparks (Prosecuting Attorney), Eugene Crum (Sheriff), Dallas “Big Dal” Toler (Magistrate), Orville Messer (B.O.E.), William “Bill” Duty (B.O.E.) and Mark Wills (State Senate).
Candidates who were unable to make a personal appearance that had others speak on their behalf’s were Jacqueline Branch (BOE) who was represented by her husband Johnny Branch; James “Jim” Rowe (Supreme Court) who asked Greg “Hootie” Smith to speak for him; and Letitia “Tish” Chafin (Supreme Court), who requested Freddie Newsome to relay her apologies for not being able to attend, and to ask for the support of those in attendance.
Pauletta Sue Dove, President of the Mingo Chapter of the Democratic Women, said that her organization was extremely pleased with the public support they received for the event and the number of candidates who addressed the attendees.
“We had between 200 and 300 people that came out to be with us at the breakfast, and approximately 30 candidates who spoke,” said Dove. “Some of those traveled quite a distance from their homes in the Northern part of the state to attend, and we definitely want them to know how much we appreciate them taking the time to come to Williamson.”
The president also wanted to thank everyone who assisted with the breakfast in each and every way including those who helped decorate the fire department, those who donated items for the auction that raised well over $600 for the group, everyone who stayed and assisted with the clean-up process and all those who made monetary donations to alleviate some of the financial burden the Democratic women accumulated to sponsor the breakfast.
“This breakfast gave everyone that came a chance to hear the candidates speak, and should aid in the decision of who they want to vote for and support,” said Dove.
“The most important thing is to go vote. It’s your right, and your duty.”
“Our democratic group’s goal is to offer our support to all democratic candidates, and I feel this breakfast was proof that we take that fact very serious,” she said.
Additional articles featuring quotes from candidates and who spoke at the breakfast and other information regarding the event will be printed in future issues of the Daily News later this week.