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Upshur County Farm Bureau Hosts Candidate Forum

April 28, 2008
By Gary Mallonee, Staff Writer
The Upshur County Farm Bureau (UCFB) hosted a meet-the-candidates event at its meeting April 22 at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church. The evening began with a covered-dish dinner, followed by an awards presentations and the introduction of candidates.

Eugene Sapp, president of the UCFB, welcomed those in attendance, and the invocation was given by Virgil Greenleaf.

French Armstrong, who coordinated the event, introduced each candidate and each were given three minutes to address the crowd. The time keeper for the event was Region III Director Stephen Butler.

Lawrence T. Beckerle, a resident of Craigsville and Republican candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture, was the first to speak.

“I support technology and co-ops that allow people to produce fuels in their garages,” Beckerle said. “Just as Apple computer and Microsoft began in garages, I believe small producers can lead to big changes in West Virginia.”

From his study of perennial sunflowers, Beckerle said he believes that several can be grown on poor farm land and surfaced mined land, to provide a source of bio-diesel and feed for farm animals.

Sue Blake Anderson, also a resident of Craigsville and a Democratic candidate for the state Senate 11th District, spoke about better education.

“I will serve the needs of the children and their families,” she said. “I will support efforts for better education and also work for better health care for the people.”

Aubrey Wilson of Buckhannon, a Republican Senate candidate for the 11th District, spoke about better laws.

“If I am elected, I’ll work for better laws,” Wilson said. “Laws that are firm, fair and friendly.

“There is a need for oversight in the laws,” she said, “and I will work towards that goal in the Senate.”

William R. Laird IV, also a candidate for the 11th district Senate seat, cited his 30 years of public service and his endorsement by the Farm Bureau as election qualifications. “I will work hard for the people if I am elected.”

Mike DeBarr of Weston, a Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates, 38th District, spoke on owner’s rights.

“We need to fight for more rights for home and gun owners,” DeBarr said. “We also need more programs for the handicapped and lower property taxes.

“If I am elected, I will work on these issues for the citizens of Upshur and Lewis counties,” DeBarr said. He will also support more 4-H programs and will work to clean up both counties’ lakes and rivers.

Mary Poling of Moatsville is the incumbent candidate for the House of Delegates 40th District and is seeking re-election.

“I have been endorsed by the West Virginia Farm Bureau,” Poling told the crowd. “If I am re-elected, I will continue to work hard for the people of Barbour and Upshur counties.

Poling has been the co-sponsor of several bills that have helped the people of the district.

Bill Hamilton of Buckhannon is the incumbent Republican for the House of Delegates 39th District and is seeking re-election.

“I have been endorsed by the Farm Bureau,” Hamilton said. “I also support the majority of their issues.

“I was a part of the bill for the Surface Owners Bill of Rights,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton believes that landowners deserve their due respect when it comes to their land.

Jerry Reynolds of Buckhannon, a Republican candidate for the House of Delegates 39th District, told attendees that he has a “heart for the working class.”

“West Virginia is ranked 49th in the nation in per capita income,” he said. “If I am elected, I will work to change that.”

Candidate Bob Stultz is seeking the House seat in the 38th District which includes two precincts in Upshur County. Stultz is a partner in a law firm and said he had previously served two terms on the Lewis County Board of Education.

Circuit Judge Thomas Keadle, who handles cases in both Lewis and Upshur counties, said he appreciated the support of both counties.

“I am running unopposed, so I believe I have a good chance of being re-elected,” Keadle said.

William Wimer of Buckhannon is a Republican candidate for the Upshur County Commission.

“There is a need for change,” Wimer said, “and with your vote, we can make that change.”

Donnie Tenney of Tallmansville is the incumbent for the Upshur County Commission. Tenney, a Republican, cited his 35 years as a member of the farm bureau and his 12 years as a commissioner as qualifications to be re-elected.

“A lot has been accomplished during my 12 years on the commission,” Tenney said. “The courthouse has been renovated and a site has been found for the new USPFO to keep those jobs in Upshur County.”

Steve Booth, a Republican County Commission candidate, spoke of change in the county and the way the commission operates.

Sherman Baxa, also a commission candidate on the Democratic ticket, said three minutes is not enough time to discuss his ideas.

“I will be an advocate for each and every one in the county.”

Prosecuting Attorney Jake Reger, who is unopposed, said he appreciated the support of the county.

Sheriff Virgil Miller, also unopposed, offered to yield his time to the other candidates.

Current Upshur County Magistrate Juanita Adams, a Republican, has served 16 years in the position.

“Magistrate court is the people’s court,” Adams said. “If someone goes to court, they want a court that has an open mind, is fair and who listens to both sides. My record reflects that.”

Magistrate Helen Echard, a Republican, was appointed by Judge Keadle in April 2007 and is running for her first term. She has been a magistrate assistant since 1977.

Echard said the knowledge she has from her 30 years of experience would qualify her for the job.

Republican Mike Coffman, a second-generation law enforcement officer, is also seeking a magistrate seat. He said he would be fair and remember there are two sides to every story.

Mike Hicks, a Democratic candidate for magistrate, said he would be honest, fair and unbiased.

“I am a person of integrity, and I believe in discipline,” he said.

Democrat Tammy Lively is also running for magistrate and highlighted her experience working for nine counties and 20 magistrates.

Helen Phillips is currently seeking re-election as the Upshur County Assessor on the Republican ticket. She said she had heard rumors that she would step down and hand the job over to someone in her office. She said if she is re-elected, she will serve the full term.

Phillips added that she is proud of the GIS software her office now uses — one of the first counties to use the software for mapping and addressing.

Republican Terri Jo Bennett is also hoping for election to the assessor position.

“As your assessor, I will treat everyone equal and fair,” Bennett said. “I will provide a higher level of service.”

Circuit Clerk Brian Gaudet said he was honored to have been chosen by the Republican Executive Committee to be on the ballot for November’s General Election.

Other candidates at the farm bureau event included Alan Suder who is seeking a 2nd District seat on the Upshur County Board of Education. His platform centers on the safety of the students and staff.

Family Court Judge Robert Sowa, who is unopposed, thanked everyone for their support through the years.

Article Photos

(The Inter-Mountain/
Gary Mallonee)
WINNERS — The Upshur County Farm Bureau honored the winners of the “Agriculture in West Virginia” Poster Contest during its meet the candidate night April 22 at Chapel Hill. From left are, front row, French Creek Elementary School student Cheyenne Bryant, third place; Rock Cave Elementary School student Lisa Fidler, second place; and French Creek Elementary School student Desiree Miller, first place; back row, from left, Sherry Butler, Lois Armstrong and Eugene Sapp.



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