AND THEN AGAIN……by Tamara Pettit

…..Hate to be a bore, but I’m going to repeat really old-fashioned election advice to candidates.   Don’t conduct your campaign on your opponent’s negatives; run on your positives.  Wow, that is ancient because you see the McKinley/Mooney trash talk ads that run during TV news.  I hate them so much that I’ve taken to  watching the news online these days. 

….That being said, I served with Congressman David McKinley during the time I was in House of Delegates.  He also served with me on the Finance Committee.  David was the State Republican Chairman as well.  While we may have often differed on some of the issues, we agree on others and I always found him effective and willing to extend cooperation across the aisle.  That is the only way things get done.

…..If I was really looking for sensational news I would tell you about the anonymous photo I got of a Board of Education candidate.  I won’t however, because Hometown News has a policy:  don’t care how good or how bad something you submit to us is, if you can’t acknowledge sending it then we don’t print it. 

***Know the Candidates series continues on Tuesday, April 5 when we print the responses from the County Commission candidates to our questionnaire. What did we ask? e asked the standard questions about education; experience and qualities that prepare the candidate for the position, but we also asked the following:

   **Hancock County has experienced both population and industry/business loss in the past ten years.  What do you believe  the Commission can do to reverse both losses?

  **The County spends $30,000.00 on membership in the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle.  Two of our municipalities (Chester and New Cumberland) no longer hold membership in the BDC.  Do you support continuing the Commission’s membership?  Do you think to date the County has gotten an acceptable return on its investment?

 **)Senate Bill 12, passed in 2021, gives County Commissions the opportunity to review and approve, amend or rescind any rules and regulations adopted by the Hancock County Health Board.  Under what circumstance would you vote to rescind action of an appointed boad?

**Next week we’ll do the Circuit Court and County Clerk candidates and the following week the 1st District State Senate candidates.  I made the decision not to include the House of Delegate’s race in the questions as all candidates are unopposed in the Primary Election.

……Been through some nasty campaigns.  There were campaigns where there were flyers about my personal life posted throughout Weirton Steel.  Won that election.  But, one of the most brutal campaigns I was involved in was not my own.   It was that of my brother-in-law, Bill Webster, against Ron Donnell for Sheriff.   Webster won the Democratic primary and went on to defeat Donnell in the General.    The County was divided in two camps way before the election.  Donnell, a Republican, had gone undercover and in cooperation with the FBI wore a wire to record conversations with then Prosecuting Attorney Bobby Altomare  regarding payoffs for illegal gambling in the county.  Altomare  was convicted along with several other attorneys in the county and some of the club owners.    I attended the trial in Wheeling with my Dad and it appeared that half the County was holding their breathe to see who was going to be mentioned in the tapes when they were played.   Altomare was convicted and whether Donnell was the enemy or the hero depended upon your outlook.  Webster would beat Donnell by a healthy margin, but feelings in the County were intense and the Democratic/Republican divide was deep.

…….The general election dawned a pleasant, warm and sunny day.   Jay Rockefeller was running for Governor that year and local Democratic campaigns were well financed.  A book that was written about Donnell  noted that “Webster mobiles” pulled up at precincts serving coffee and doughnuts in the morning and sandwiches at lunch.  Campaigns were a family affair and my kids joined their cousins at the precincts handing out cards and asking people to vote for their uncle as they entered the voting sites.  Doug, then 12, was assigned a Chester precinct .  The late Hugh Tate had been very active  in the campaign and since he was going to be in the Northern end of the County when the precincts closed he was charged with going to Precinct 1 and picking up Doug.

……When we all gathered when the polls closed in the Websters’ kitchen, I looked around; saw Hughie; and said, “Where’s Doug?”   Hugh remembered the precinct, but forgot Doug. 

……As Doug tells the story he only was wearing a “Webster for Sheriff” t-shirt when the polls closed and the temperatures started to drop.  There were no cell phones and he sat down on the curb to await his ride.    A man showed up  to get the results from the door and asked Doug where his ride was.  Doug, shivering in the thin t-shirt, said he was sure someone would be there soon.  Although the man had other precincts to check, he told Doug to sit in his car where it was warmer until his ride arrived.  Doug sat there with him until Hugh showed up.  The man was Ron Donnell and he while he lost the election that night,  he won the respect of a 12-year-old boy.