Candidates for office in the May 10 Primary Election told voters about their platform and responded to questions at a Meet Your Candidate event sponsored by the Hancock County Senior Citizens.  Those candidates in attendance included:  Board of Education (non-partisan) – Christina Fair, Ed Fields, Ed Horstman and Phil Rujak; County Commission –  Ted Arneault, Jr., Paul Cowey and Brett Lemley; Circuit Court – Fred Marello; County Clerk – Valerie Truax and Karan Valenti; House of Delegates, 2nd District – Mark Zatezalo (R) State Senate – Owns Brown(D) and Laura Wakim Chapman (R).   

        Questions posed were candid and to the point.  One voter addressed the conflict in the school system over the Board of Education’s appeal of a decision by an administrative law judge to rebid the Personnel Director’s position and a vote of no confidence taken by school employees over the Superintendent’s action, “Would you fire the Superintendent?”

        “I know there are a lot of disgruntled employees,” said Fair.  She said the Board is not able to reveal what transpired in executive session and pointed out she is not yet a Board member,

        Horstman said there is a greater need for transparency in the Board’s actions,

       Rujak agreed transparency is an issue admitted   .   One audience questioned Rujak about the lak of supplies to repair equipment for custodiances,  we need to prioritize things

      Fields said  the superintendent serves at the “will & pleasure” of the Board and should be accountable to the board.  He said that the administrative law judge’s ruling said that the Superintendent had failed to provide evaluations of the principals in three years and had not held a principals meeting.  Fields said that every phone call from a parent needs to be returned within 24 hours by the Superintendent.

    Economic development was the focus of questions to the County Commission candidates.  One voter expressed concern that the “Rock Spring Business Park” in Chester still sits empty and a tenant for the “spec” building had yet to be located,

        Paul Cowey, who is completing his second term, said Hancock County is on the on the cusp of big time growth.  He noted he serves as President of the Hancock County Commission and is a member of the Brooke -Hancock Dev, Corporation Board.   In response to a question regarding the failure of the BDC to get a tenant in its spec building at the  in Chester Cowey said the BDC continues to market the property, but the interest on the  loan negotiated “has our hands tied” as it made the cost of locating at the structure too high.

      Ted Arneault, Jr. said he  believes it is the County needed “active leaders to promote Hancock County….not  Brooke and  that responsibility should not be delegated to an agency.”

     Brett Lemley, said he  not a politician but a farmer who has stayed on the farm.  He said he had worked for Sam Minesinger driving a truck, Weirton Steel, pottery, and is currently working at Ergon.  

     “Shouldn’t be any closed door meeting,   I’ll  break the door down if I have to,” he said.  At the closure of his time, Lemley said there was only one other person in the room who had more guns then he did.

Circuit Clerk:

      Ted Marello, Jr., husband of County Commissioner Eron Chek, has been in the County for four years.  Originally from Connecticut, he said his job at this time is campaigning for the Clerk’s job.   He has previously managed auto dealerships and has supervised from five to 30 employees. 

      Sandy Casto who currently serves as Circuit Clerk was unable to attend due to a trial.

County Clerk:

      Both candidates Valerie Truax and Karan Valenti focused on their qualifications for the office; their competency in handling elections; and their desire to upgrade functions of the office.

       Truax currently serves as Chief  Deputy Clerk and has filled in for current County Clerk George Foley during his absence due to illness.  Truax is a graduate of Fairmont State College and has worked in the County Clerk’s office since 2006 and served as Deputy Clerk for the past seven years.

       Valenti, has 12 years of experience in the County Clerk’s office with 3 years in the Election office and 9 years in the Finance office.