Most incumbents file for May primary

Mary Catherine Brooks/The Wyoming County ReportCandidates began filing last week for the May primary election as these boards in the courthouse lobby attest. Most county offices will be on the ballot this year. As of Tuesday, several incumbents had filed to keep their seats in the upcoming election. The county ballot will include the circuit judge, the District 3/Oceana areas county commission seat (currently held by Larry Mathis), the county clerk, circuit clerk, prosecuting attorney, sheriff, assessor, three magistrates, three family court judges, two board of education seats (now held by Robbie Bailey, District 2/Pineville areas, and Mike Prichard, District 1/Mullens areas), a surveyor and a Soil Conservation District supervisor.

As of Tuesday, the majority of incumbents to appear on the Wyoming County primary election ballot had filed to keep their seats.

Candidates began filing last week and most county offices will be on the ballot this year.

The filing period ends Jan. 30 and the county courthouse will be open from noon until midnight on that Saturday for candidates to file.

The county ballot will include the circuit judge, the District 3/Oceana areas county commission seat (currently held by Larry Mathis), the county clerk, circuit clerk, prosecuting attorney, sheriff, assessor, three magistrates, three family court judges, two board of education seats (now held by Robbie Bailey, District 2/Pineville areas, and Mike Prichard, District 1/Mullens areas), a surveyor and a Soil Conservation District supervisor.

Non-partisan offices will be elected during the primary and take office July 1. Those include the circuit judge, magistrates, family court judges and two board of education seats.

While the board of education seats have been non-partisan, this election marks the first time judges and magistrate candidates are categorized as non-partisan.

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By Tuesday morning, Micheal Cochrane had filed to keep the prosecuting attorney seat.

C.S. “Sherrill” Parker filed for sheriff. Parker now serves as the chief deputy, but has previously worn the sheriff’s badge. Sheriff Randall Aliff is retiring and will not seek re-election.

Michael E. “Mike” Cook also filed to retain the assessor’s office.

For county commission, Edward “Ed” Harless filed; Harless also previously served as a commissioner.

For county clerk, current District 1 commissioner Jason Mullins filed in addition to long-time deputy clerk Jewell Spears Aguilar.

For Soil Conservation District supervisor, Edsel Ray Lafferty filed.

All those filing were Democrats.

No Republicans had filed as of Tuesday.

For the non-partisan magistrate seats, incumbent J.R. Boles filed for District 1/Mullens areas; incumbent Craig Cook filed in District 2/Pineville areas; incumbent I. Kay Fulford and current Mullens Police Chief Ray Toler filed for the District 3/Oceana areas.

Circuit Judge Warren McGraw also filed for re-election.

Prichard had also filed to keep his board of education seat.

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The circuit judge and family court judges are elected to eight-year terms.

The county commissioner, county clerk and circuit clerk will be elected to six-year terms, while the prosecutor, sheriff, assessor, magistrates and board of education members have four-year terms.

Candidates in county races file in the county courthouse in Pineville and, for state races, candidates file in the secretary of state’s office in Charleston.

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The primary election, in which voters elect their party’s nominee in the partisan races, is set for May 10.

The general election, during which the party nominees will square off against each other, is scheduled Nov. 8.

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At the state level, Wyoming County voters will select the District 9 state senator, who must reside in Wyoming County or a very small portion of McDowell County, which is also a part of District 9. Raleigh County is also included in the district; however, the Raleigh County seat is not on the ballot this time. That seat is currently held by Jeff Mullins, R-Raleigh.

The Wyoming/McDowell senate seat was recently vacated by Daniel Hall, who resigned to take a job with the National Rifle Association.

Hall was elected as a Democrat, then switched parties last year, giving the Republicans the senate majority.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said last week, unless instructed otherwise by the state Supreme Court of Appeals, he will appoint a Democrat to fill Hall’s position.The six-member Ninth District Senatorial Democratic Executive Committee selected three possible replacement candidates for the governor’s consideration, including county Clerk Mike Goode, who has filed for the seat in the upcoming election, along with Pineville Mayor Tim Ellison and attorney David Thompson, who serves as Wyoming County Democratic Executive Committee chairman.

The state Republican Party’s Ninth Senatorial District Committee also submitted to the governor the names of three people – including Jack Fincham, of Brenton, a retired Marine; Naomi “Sue” Cline, of Brenton, who challenged Del. Linda Phillips in the previous election; and Epp Cline, of Oceana, who is the Wyoming County Republican Executive Committee chairman and ran against Hall in the last election – for consideration as Hall’s replacement in the event a Republican is named.

The county Democratic Executive Committee also provided Tomblin with three possible replacement candidates for the House of Delegates seat vacated Dec. 31 by Linda Phillips. Those candidates included board of education member Allan Stiltner, county Schools Superintendent Frank Blackwell, and Pineville Mayor Tim Ellison.

Late Tuesday, Tomblin named Blackwell to fill the House 25 seat until the May 10 primary election, when voters will decide who will complete the unexpired term. Blackwell is taking a leave of absence from his job as county schools superintendent to serve in the current legislative session, he said. Blackwell previously served in the House of Delegates from 1977-82, vacating his House seat to serve as county schools superintendent.

Harry White also left his House 21 seat to devote more time to economic development in southern West Virginia, he said.

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In the upcoming election, county voters will help elect the House of Delegates members in the 21st, 24th, 25th and 31st districts.

Additionally on the state ticket, voters will elect the governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, agriculture commissioner, and attorney general.

At the federal level, a new president and vice president will be elected as well as U.S. House of Representatives members, who are elected to two-year terms, in three West Virginia districts.

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