Raffety takes reins as commission president

BUCKHANNON – After serving on the Upshur County Commission for 17 years, Donnie Tenney said he’d like to spend his 18th – and last – year taking on a secondary role and providing counsel to “the new kids on the block.”

Tenney, who has served as commission president for the past six years, said his term expires Dec. 31, 2014. He recommended that Commissioner JC Raffety be elected president of the Upshur County Commission for 2014 at the commission’s weekly Thursday morning meeting. Tenney’s motion ultimately passed, but the vote was not unanimous.

Commissioner Troy “Buddy” Brady dissented, saying he thought Tenney had done an “excellent” job leading the commission in 2013 and ought to continue at the helm in 2014.

Prior to the vote, Tenney said he had a few words he’d like to share.

“I’ve certainly enjoyed serving in that position (as president), even though basically you preside over the meetings and get to sign all the checks and spend all the money in the county,” he said. “But you also get to attend a lot of community functions and make long speeches at all the different festive events of the county, which I hope our next president is going to enjoy as much as I have.”

“But there comes a time when you have to turn the reins over to the next generation and I think that time has come,” Tenney continued. “I feel it’s best during my last year to let the new kids on the block kind of run things. I would move that Mr. JC Raffety be elected as the president of the Upshur County Commission.”

Brady said he’d contemplated the issue for quite some time prior to Thursday’s vote.

“I gave that a lot of thought, and Donnie, you have been a great president of the Upshur County Commission,” Brady told Tenney. “I have learned a lot from Mr. Tenney. It has been a learning experience in 2013, and I think you should be named as president of this county commission.”

Tenney said although he appreciated the vote of confidence, he felt turning over the reins to Raffety was the prudent thing to do.

“I know there have been times in the past when someone has been thrust into that position without having opportunity to ease into it,” Tenney said, “so I would respectfully decline that, even though I certainly appreciate that.”

Raffety noted that given Brady’s opposition, “that places me in the awkward situation of voting for myself.”

“I understand the motives and the consideration that both have afforded, but I would have to at this point side with Mr. Tenney, as much as I reluctantly agree to do so, because he has provided great service to the County Commission in his term as president,” Raffety said.

“At the same time I do understand his belief that it will take some mentoring the president. The president of the commission is not a position which does not have other additional responsibilities associated with it and requires more in-depth knowledge of procedure, more in-depth knowledge of operations of the state.”

“I recognize Commissioner Brady’s desire to maintain a tested and tried commission president,” Raffety added. “As it stands, this is something for the betterment of the commission in terms of our learning, in terms of our continuing to serve the public. It’s in the best interest of the public.”

When Tenney called for a vote on the matter while still president, Brady voted against appointing Raffety president.

“When you have someone quite capable of running the county commission, which you did an excellent job at in 2013, I just hate to remove you from being the president,” Brady told Tenney. “Not that I can’t see it’s nice to train somebody, but also it’s nice to have the knowledge that you have showed here for 2013. I just hate to see you step down as president because I think you’ve done an outstanding job.”

The motion passed, and Tenney handed the gavel to Raffety.

“I’ve only used it one time in my 17 years,” he said. “It’s to be used with caution because it’s very fragile.”

Contact Katie Kuba by email at kkuba@theintermountain.com. Follow her on Twitter at IMT_Kuba.