As Election Day draws near, there still are some races for area residents to consider as they head to the polls. The Inter-Mountain previously has addressed the need for a crackdown on drug-related crimes in our region.
Many may not realize this but, with the exception of direct indictments, all criminal cases come through magistrate court. Magistrates play an important role in helping to keep communities safe and can send a message that drugs and other related crimes will not be tolerated.
In Randolph County, four candidates are vying for three magistrate positions. Democrat Chris Heflin is challenging incumbents Benjamin E. Shepler, Republican, and Democrats Robert R. "Rob" Elbon Jr. and George Mike Riggleman. All three incumbents have distinguished themselves during their time in office, and it's important to note the position of magistrate requires someone to serve 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Not only do magistrates work 40 hours per week in the office hearing criminal and civil cases, but they also are called out at all hours of the day and night. This includes calls for emergency protective orders in domestic cases and for emergency warrants for law enforcement officers. Major crimes affecting the county right now include drug trafficking, drug abuse and addiction, along with sexual abuse and neglect of children, just to name a few.
All three incumbent magistrates have a proven track record of being tough on these issues. In addition, they bring extensive experience to the magistrate court system.
Elbon is serving his fourth year as magistrate and has 20 years experience as a deputy sheriff for Randolph County. He also has 13 years experience as a business owner in Elkins.
Shepler is in his fourth year as magistrate and has an additional nine years experience as a territory manager, running drug and alcohol testing programs for state, federal and local companies. He also has two years prior experience as a municipal judge for the city of Elkins.
Riggleman is serving his 12th year in office. He's a respected local business owner and knows and understands this community's needs.
Randolph County magistrates deal with thousands of cases each year and work hard for the citizens of Randolph County. We believe they would serve the county and its citizens well if elected for another term.