AND THEN AGAIN……by Tamara Pettit

…….The Board of Education appears to be shaping up to  a be hotly contested race.    The non-partisan race is usually low key because Board positions are not highly coveted.    Let’s face it, there’s a whole lot of grief and not a lot of compensation involved with service on the Board.   Plus, in times like these when COVID has brought out a myriad of issues, a member’s responsibility is mind- boggling.  Those running will be running for three available seats.  Those filed as of 1/26 include incumbent Danny Kaser, who serves as Board president; Christina Fair, who previously served on the Board and newcomers Phil Rujak, Jim Horstman, Dr. Greg Baldt and Gerard Spencer.     Kaser, a former superintendent of Hancock County schools, resides in Grant District,  Fair, a former Board member, and newcomers Baldt, Rujak and Horstman all reside in Clay District.  Spencer resides in Butler. 

….What prompts a citizen to run for office?  We always hope it’s an altruistic reason: to work for the greater good of one’s community and its residents.   For many, it’s simply a financial decision.   Some of the county jobs pay relatively well.   I  remember many years ago when a candidate for a county job used his status of being unemployed as the reason people should vote for him.  He had been let go from a City of Weirton job and went door to door telling everyone they should vote for him because he needed the job…..his opponent already  had one.  We joked at the time that he should make his campaign slogan “Elect ***  I need a job!”

……But the most dangerous candidate for public office is one with a single agenda or a political ax to grind.  If elected, that breed of public servant rarely grows into the type of official  who serves all his/her constituents.   We saw it often in the legislature – a teacher runs because they want certain  changes made in the educational system; an  attorney runs to remove the cap on malpractice awards.  I’ve even served with a few physicians whose issue was malpractice insurance rates.  The single agenda candidates either have to broaden their areas of concern or their single focus limits their effectiveness..   I ‘m afraid that the Weir High baseball complex issue may be spurring Weirton candidates to throw their hat in the ring for the Board of Education.  Board member and President of the Weir Boosters Chris Gillette has been vocal in his concern that Weir  baseball complex  take priority . Board President Danny Kaser is in support of the complex, but he cautions the Board that the need for academic classrooms has to take top priority.   In my opinion, the School Board has an obligation to provide the best education it can to our students.  While important to many, sports are secondary.

…..The Republican Executive Committee looks like it has filled their slate on both the male and female side.  The Democratic Executive Committee has but two candidates filed.  Democratic candidates for other offices should be beating the bushes for candidates.  Those are the people who work to get their party candidates elected in the general election.

……The irony that the Republican majority in the Legislature is now passing legislation that wrests control AWAY from local government and gives it to the State has not been lost on the media.  Traditionally, Republicans have said that control should remain local.  Big government should not be telling you what to do.   However, your local school board cannot impose either a mask mandate or COVID testing if HB 2869 ( passed the House last week) clears the Senate.   How about taxation.  That’s what Home Rule is all about:  let the municipalities decide for themselves what form of taxation best works for them……unless they choose a B&0 tax which is phased out under  HB  2951.   Finally, cities such as Wheeling have become pro-active about enacting anti-discrimination laws, but another bill wants to take that right away from and simply have all municipalities adhere to State code…..only there is no specific code relating to the issue.

……I notice McGeehan’s bill to split the  County’s 2% share of racetrack net terminal income with the municipalities no longer has the Finance Committee reference.   It is now single referenced to Judiciary Committee which tells me some work is being done on the bill. I was thinking a push might be forthcoming from the Municipal League, but really not that many of its municipalities are affected.  Mountaineer and Charlestown are the only two tracks not located in a municipality.

……I often have this dream, especially when the Legislature is in session.  I am back in the Legislature and it’s a nightmare.  I can’t find my way around the Capital.  It’s like a maze and I keep getting turned around and ending up on the Senate side rather than the House side.  I can’t even locate the ladies room let alone my seat in the House Chamber.    My mind is boggled as I try to read the magnitude of bills introduced each day and votes are being cast on bills faster than I can comprehend what the heck I am voting on.    My head is spinning and my cohort, the late Del. Sam Love, is learning against the wall laughing at me while his jar of pennies resting on the green button assures his vote is cast.  Night life appears to be the right life as I see legislators acting crazy and am reminded that as a delegate I am to abide by the “What goes on in Charleston….stays in Charleston,” code.    I am Alice in Wonderland as I tumble down the rabbit hole.  I just want to go home and get away from this crazy place where nothing is real, but everything has consequences.   I am always so glad when I wake up and realize it was just a dream…..and my first year in the Legislature!

……Simple pleasures take on greater magnitude when the temperatures plummet and the snow keeps coming down.  I’m all excited today for the premier of the Gilded Age and when the roads cleared I drove to the Dairy Queen in Weirton to get a quart of vanilla and a quart of chocolate ice cream.  Yep.  That and I have a good book and a fireplace.  And, a catalogue with window boxes.  How do you think window boxes would look on my second story windows?