AND THEN AGAIN….. by Tamara Pettit

………As candidates file for the upcoming election one might wonder…..where have all the Democrats gone?  Did the strong showing by the Republican party discourage potential candidates with a D after their name from throwing their hats into the fray.  Perhaps, or seeing the recent Republican trend have some candidates simply changed their party affiliation in the allotted time to do so prior to filing.   Commissioner Paul Cowey changed his  registration from Democrat to Republican last year, for instance.   I’m not critical of that move.  I did the same thing back in the eighties on the advice of my dad, a life-long Republican who was elected for 36 years in a Democratically-controlled County.   He was ever the pragmatist, however, telling me that he was an aberration and I couldn’t get elected as a Republican.  I actually came from a long line of Republicans as my cousin Sonny Weltner reminds me.  Great-grandfather Dakon Herron was a protective tariff Republican and Dad often said that his own father, Marshall Herron, would not vote for him had he run as a Democrat.  And, so realist that I was,  I registered as a Democrat and a year later ran for the Democratic Executive Committee.   I became what I like to refer to as a social liberal and fiscal conservative.  Back in the day a West Virginia Democrat would have been a Republican in another State and there were quite a few of us who met that description.   One of us was Joe Manchin.

………The only Democrat on the County/State/Federal ticket  who has filed  as of Jan. 19 is  Randy Swartzmiller who has filed for the 1st District Senatorial Seat.  A longtime member of the House, Swartzmiller ran against Sen.  Ryan Weld two years ago.  The current seat must be held by a resident of Hancock or Ohio County.  Sen. Wm. Ihlenfeld(D) resigned that seat when he was appointed to the Federal Attorney’s position in January and Owens Brown has filled the seat since that time.  Brown was one of three names submitted to the Governor to fill Ihlenfeld’s position.   Swartzmiller and Del. Phil Diserio (D-Ohio) were also nominated.  Political pundits feel that in selecting Brown, Justice picked the weakest of the three  Democatic candidates since Justice had interest in getting that seat back to the Republicans.

…..On the Federal ticket, Republicans David McKinley and Alex Mooney will be joined on the ballot by Susan Lochocki of Morgantown in the 2nd District Congressional seat.   Laura Wakim Chapman of Wheeling has filed as a Republican in the 1st District Senatorial race.    Looks like Del. Pat McGeehan and Del. Mark Zatezalo now fall into two different Delegate districts.  McGeehan has filed in the 1st Delegate District while Zatezalo, who resides at 540 N.12th St. Weirton, filed in the 2nd Delegate District.

…..The non-partisan school board race is generating some interest.  Board President Danny Kaser who is in Grant District has filed and Christina Fair, who previously served on the Board has filed.  Board members Toni Hinerman and Michelle Chappell are up for re-election.   I’ve heard rumors that former Sheriff’s candidate Rick Stead and former teacher Phil Rujak may be considering a run.  Both reside in Clay District.  Former School Board member Ed Fields who was defeated by Chris Gillette is also in Clay District and is rumored to be considering whether to run.  Hometown News will post daily updates on who has filed for office at   If you’re not a subscriber you’re missing out on up-to-date news and analysis of issues that matter to you.  $30/year.  It’s a good deal.

…….I think we all felt like the air had been let out of our balloon when Gov. Justice announced Nucor would locate its sheet mill in Mason County.  I thought “Wait, it’s a steel mill.  Weirton is a steel town.  Why would Nucor go to Mason County?”   The handwriting was on the wall when I looked at a Mason County newspaper online only to read that Nucor had already purchased 1,300 acres there.   We print the property transfers every month and I knew that Nucor had not purchased any property here. 

…….While Weirton was mentioned for a transloading  and processing facility that dreaded word “considered” was used.  That means it’s not a done deal and will only happen after Nucor’s’ sheet mill is constructed in 2024.  Where did we fall short in bringing the plant here?  I would gather that it was the WV Economic Development Office that had been working with NUCOR and I would bet they steered the mill toward Mason County.  We had the land; we had the trained workers and the outstanding work ethic….and our county commissioners and economic development officials would have bent over backward to assist in anyway they could.  All Nucor plans, however,  are non-union  and one wonders if the presence of the USW in our area was a factor?  Weirton has always been a Union plant, whether it be the Independent Steelworkers Union or the United Steelworkers under Cleveland Cliffs.  They have always had, however, a good working relationship with the Company and to my knowledge have never had a strike.  While I’m sure Mason County will welcome Nucor, the company would have found a willing and ready workforce and supportive local government in Hancock County. 

…….It’s Monday and I feel like I’m in a snow globe.  Don’t remember the snow being this high for quite a while.  I live just up the road from the State Road Barn and I’ve got to tell you the workers were busy all night as I heard scrapers and trucks going up and down on Veteran’s Boulevard.  I’ve always known when the roads were going to get bad because I would see the trucks headed north to sit at the top of Route 30 hill to be on top of the ice and snow.   Should this be added to the “you know you’re from a small town” list?”    You know you’re from a small town when your big activity for the day is to monitor the State road trucks going up the road.   Yep. 

…..The concept of Del. Pat McGeehan’s bill splitting the net terminal video lottery income is not a new one.   I was a co-sponsor of the original video lottery bill and Hancock County Commissioners lobbied hard to get the 2%.  It made sense to me.   The County was providing police and fire protection and the racetrack was in an unincorporated area.  Around 2000, Sen. Ed Bowman put forth the concept of splitting that 2% with the municipalities in the county on a per capita basis.  The per capita really bothered me.    It’s New Cumberland and Chester’s police and fire department who will need to respond, and will see increased traffic not the City of Weirton, yet Weirton would have received most of the funds.   The bill died in House Finance, but a deal was struck the next year with the excess revenue (over $2 million) being distributed to the municipalities.   It was put in statute later.

…….Does McGeehan’s bill have a chance?     I think it’s a long shot, but really all bets are off with this legislature.  McGeehan is not embraced by his own party as a team player so chances are Majority leaders won’t help him out.  The bill is double-referenced, first to Judiciary Committee and then to Finance so that’s two hurdles that have to be overcome before it goes to a floor vote.  However, the Municipal League may get on Board to push it, but then the County Commissioners Association would oppose it.   I will keep my eye on it and report back.

……Stay warm and stay safe on these wintry days.  And, check in daily for the news that matters to you.