AND THEN AGAIN….. by Tamara Pettit

…..The New Year will bring significant changes in the 2022 election.  As a result of Hancock County’s population loss we will see the shifting of boundary lines for Congressional, House of Delegate, State Senate and perhaps Magisterial Districts.

…….What does that mean to you? 

……In my opinion, the most significant change will be in the House of Delegates.  The implementation of single delegate districts mean the 1st District will no longer have two delegates representing us.  The 1st District line extends into the Brooke County portion of Weirton.  This means that should incumbents Delegates Pat McGeehan and Mark Zatezalo opt to run for re-election, they will face each other in the Republican Primary.  While I could explain to how that line is drawn, I would thoroughly confuse you (I confuse myself).  You can view the District by going to the Secretary of State’s Office at WVSOS.

……The 1st District Senate Seat has redrawn Districts.   Senator Owens Brown (D) was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Wm. Ihlenfeld who resigned to assume the Federal Prosecutor duties a few months ago. Brown will need to run in the 2022 election to retain his seat.  Former Delegate Randy Swartzmiller’s and current Delegate Sean Fluharty’s names were also submitted to the Governor so one would surmise both would be candidates for the seat.  Haven’t seen any announcement, but scrolling through the list of those who have filed pre-candidacy statements with the Secretary of State, I see Swartzmiller’s name.

….The County Commission will also look at the three Magisterial District – Grant – Clay and Butler to see if a population shift will make it necessary to move the lines.   The decision will as to whether changes are necessary will be taken at the Commission’s meeting on Dec. 22 at 9:30 a.m.    Currently Grant ends and Clay begins at Smith Oil in New Cumberland.   Where Clay ends and Butler begins has always been a bit trickier.  Weirton Heights is kept intact, but the Clay border always appeared to me to meander up down County Road in Weirton and up onto Marland Heights.  The lines must be drawn and approved prior to January 22.    Candidates considering a run for the Clay District seat which is up in the 2022 election  will need to be aware of any changes in the boundaries. 

…. Filing begins for the 2022 election January 10 and extends until midnight January 29.  On the ballot will be the County Commission Clay District seat, Circuit Clerk, County Clerk, House of Delegates, State Senate, Congressional Seat.   The Board of Education’s non-partisan race will be conducted in the Primary.  Toni Hinerman, Michelle Chappell and Dan Kaser’s seats will be up.  

……I was sorry to hear of the passing of Circuit Court Clerk Chuck Wright this week.   Chuck was a real gentleman who didn’t let party lines get in the way of friendships.  He was a faithful reader of Hometown News and would often offer comment on both Bill’s column and mine when I saw him at the Commission meetings.  I am told that Sandy Casto will serve as the Circuit Clerk until the new circuit clerk is determined in the election.  

……West Virginia has four parties:  Democrat, Republican, Liberterian and Mountaineer, but the fasting growing segment of voters isn’t among any of them.   The fastest growing is “no party affiliation.”    As a voter, it’s a great place to be.    You can decide for yourself what ballot you want to vote when you arrive at the polls.

…..While a “no party affiliation” registration is great for voters, if you want to run for office it’s difficult to get election.  That makes a case for active Republican and Democrat Executive Committee.  Those positions, which are designated by Magisterial Districts, and by gender, are on the Primary ballot this election.   If I were to give any advice to the Democratic party as it seeks to recruit candidates, I would say focus on the Executive Committee.   The powers to be need to recruit, recruit, recruit for young people to run for the executive committees.   The old saying “all politics is local” is really true and a strong executive committee is necessary if the party is to return to a majority.  I spent quite a few years on the Democratic Executive Committee as a member, then treasurer and then as chairman.   Those were the years when Gaston Caperton was elected and phone banks were staffed every evening at the Headquarters. 

……Can you get elected strictly by using social media.   Those who ran in the 2020 election cycle faced a special kind of challenge I hope we never see again.  COVID prevented them from going door-to-door,    Some handled it with great innovation  through use of social media, but nothing meets personal contact.   I am convinced that anyone on the first time out needs to go door-to-door.  Voters need to see you working hard to get their vote… need to ask them for your vote.  I also think candidates need to study what the job they’re running for entails.     County candidates should not veer into state legislative issues and vice-versa.   State legislative candidates should not veer into federal issues.   In other words, stay in your own lane!

……A disclaimer here:   I’m a fine one to tell candidates to go door-to-door.   I grew up doing it for my Dad.  I hated it then and I hated it when I ran for office myself.  I trudged door to door my first election never knowing if behind unknown doors were friend or foe and I would cringe before the door opened.   There were many a time I would encounter a hostile voter and just say the heck with it and go home.   I well remember the sunny Saturday before Easter when I was going door-to-door and my knock produced a women dressed in a shorty, see through nightgown with her hair in rollers.   I didn’t flinch, but offered my pamphlet saying “I’m Tamara Pettit and I’m running for the House of Delegates.”  She took my pamphlet, and said “Why?”    At that moment I was honest and replied, “I have no idea.”  I got in my car; went home; turned on cartoons and drank coffee. 

……..While some may view a parent’s job as cheering your child on despite the odds, I always thought my Dad demonstrated tremendous love laced with practical political advice back in the Eighties.  Before I ran for the House of Delegates, I contemplated running for the Clay District County Commission seat.  The seat had been held by longtime politico Joe Manypenny and John Sorrenti had already filed.  My Dad went to the Courthouse with me the last night to file and we sat waiting to see if anyone else would enter the race thus breaking up the vote.  About 11 p.m. my Dad looked and me and pulled the filing fee out of his pocket and offered it to me.  “You can’t win against, Sorrenti,” he said.  “But, if you want to run I will pay the filing fee and support you in every way I can.”   He loved me enough to be brutally honest and I loved him so much for doing so.   It wasn’t my time yet.  My time would come, but I had  a lot of work to do and he knew it.  Sadly, Dad died only months before I was appointed to the House of Delegates by Governor Gaston Caperton.  But, he was with me in spirit every election and every decision I ever made.