By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
It’s no surprise with the primary election race being determined by a single vote that Fred Davis has continued his campaign to be a commissioner for Tucker County as a write in candidate. The definition of a write in candidate is someone who wants to run for office but doesn’t appear on the ballot. The names of the write in candidate must be placed on the ballot by the voters. Under West Virginia law, you must file as an official write-in candidate for that office no later than forty-nine days before the election.
County Clerk Sherry Simmons provided detailed instructions from the WV Secretary of State Guide on how to properly cast a write-in vote. On the optical scan system using paper ballots, the voter fills in the oval next to the name of the candidate for which a vote is cast. When casting the write-in vote, fill in the oval and write in the name of the candidate on the blank line next to the oval she explained. When using the electronic voting, the touch screen system records votes on the screen by means of touch. To cast a write-in vote, the box designated “write-in” is selected and the name of the official write-in candidate is typed using the keyboard that appears on the screen of the voting device.
There are a few common issues associated with write-in candidates. To find out who is running as a write-in, a list is posted at the polling places along with where voting instructions and sample ballots are located. Poll workers are not permitted to discuss write-in candidates with voters, and can only redirect those to the lists; however, write-ins are not listed on the sample ballots. Write-in votes are counted at the same time as all other votes. When counting these votes, election officials are looking for three criteria: is the write-in vote for an official write-in candidate, is the ballot properly filled out in accordance to state law, and is the intent of the voter clear.
Both candidates vying for a seat on the Tucker County Commission were provided the same set of questions by The Parsons Advocate and given the same amount of time to answer. Following are their responses to aid in the voters gaining a better insight prior to casting their ballots.
If you were to be elected commissioner:
What one part of the county government would receive more attention?
Hinkle: The county commission is committed to spreading the limited resources we have fairly and equitably throughout the county. Attention is focused on whatever the pressing issue is. There is an immediate need to address abandoned and dilapidated properties and those efforts are underway. With the arrival of Corridor H, managing growth to the benefit of those who live and work here is a priority. The commission needs to support efforts of the Development Authority and Planning Commission in that regard. Public safety is a priority. State code dictates it and our residents deserve it. Progress has been made in the area of improving emergency services and we need to continue that effort. We must protect county resources from regionalization efforts.
Davis: At this time, we need to get EMS sorted out, immediately. It’s a huge issue and our county is completely divided on it. We need to re-address what is happening, let the public know exactly what’s going on as it happens. Then we can move on to other issues.
What do you see as the most pressing needs for infrastructure or capital projects in our county?
Hinkle: Workforce housing, broadband, completion of Corridor H and expansion of water and sewage projects. All of these projects support business development and job creation. Other projects that could benefit the county: a 24 hour Urgent Care facility, a truck stop, dedicated ATV trails, a handicapped accessible Visitors Center.
Davis: I don’t know how many of us that live inside of city limits realizes it, but a lot of our county is cut off from some pretty basic needs. Water and sewage only go so far, even in populated places, like up on the flats in Parsons. There are people who have access to water, but not sewage, we need to see what funding is available to bring these services to all areas of the county. Outlying areas like Location, Wolfe Run Road, and Saint George don’t have access to water or sewage, and when we haven’t had enough rain, or snow in the winter, they are living without water. Wolfe Run Rd. has a lot of issues with power, especially in the winter, and that’s just one area. We also have very limited internet access in this county. I know people who don’t have internet service even offered in their area. Think of the opportunities we could offer with internet available to all our citizens. Our kids miss a lot of school for snow days, with internet available, we could have online options to the snow packets that our schools are already doing. I think that’s where we start. Basic needs.
If new resources were available, what one area of county services do you feel needs it most?
Hinkle: Tucker County EMS. Additional resources would allow us to reduce or eliminate the mandatory EMS Fee and insure that the county had a minimum of two crews operating from two stations 24/7.
Davis: Again, I think that our funding needs to go towards infrastructure. We need to provide this entire county with basic necessities. We also need to provide them with internet services available. I’ve said it before that we need job training in this county. Across the state people are talking about the work force and how much we are in need of employees that are trained in trades. With more basic infrastructure, we could bring more or better training courses to the area and help our kids who aren’t bound for college find better paying jobs and train them for their futures.
Should any part of the county budget be shielded from cuts? If so, which area?
Hinkle: The county operates on a bare bones budget so I would not want to see any cuts. The goal is to grow the tax base with additional housing and new or expanded business development. We need to protect and leverage our assets.
Davis: Emergency Services. We have a major highway coming through our county, and our fire departments are totally dependent on our amazing volunteers, but they don’t necessarily have the training and equipment that we are going to need. Our volunteer fire departments, our police, 911, and our EMS should be shielded from cuts. I know this is a tense subject for a lot of people, but we need to realize that our county is changing with the road, and with more people coming through, we will end up with more emergencies.
What is your experience with preparing or authorizing budgets?
Hinkle: I have six years of experience with county budgets. Before that my work in the nonprofit sector for 20 years included budget preparation and authorization. I’ve been involved with our family business for 40+ years.
Davis: Everyone knows I’ve been coaching for 30 plus years, during that time I’ve had to build and stick to many budgets. When I took over the Mountaineer Athletic Association (MAA, Little League Basketball), I set up a board of directors, a checking account that required multiple signatures, and we re-built that program from the ground up. When I left as director, they were in the black for the first time in years. I surround myself with people who are honest, responsible, and who care about the projects they are involved in.
What do you bring to the county commission that you feel they are in need of?
Hinkle: My work in the nonprofit sector, the business sector, and as a county commissioner provides a large network of resources to tap into for problem solving and leveraging partner support. I have a good relationship with state and federal officials. I have demonstrated successful resource development with other county commissioners. Problem solving is a big part of the job. Having a large network, and the experience to know who and where to refer people to, is vital. I regularly attend regional and state trainings for county commissioners that includes auditor training; classes on ethics and open meeting laws, and training related to board of equalization and review and excess levies. I have public speaking experience and extensive grant writing experience. My development efforts in the nonprofit sector helped to secure and manage assets that grew from $296,000 to more than $23 million in a 20 year span.
The residents of Tucker County deserve a common sense approach based on experience, forethought, and strategic planning. I have more than 40 years of community service through my work and my volunteer efforts. I am committed to serving ALL the residents of Tucker County. I understand that progress means different things to different people and I am respectful of that. I am willing to consider alternative approaches and I have a track record of capitalizing on that.
Davis: The voice of the people. This is OUR county and I want to listen to what the people have to say. The decisions made in county government directly affect YOU. You should be well informed of all meetings, decisions, petitions, and ideas that are presented to or are being discussed at commission meetings. You have a right to meetings that are held at times that are convenient to YOU, the voters, the working people, not what’s convenient for the people you elected to serve YOU. I want to be a servant of the people of Tucker County.
Voters can participate in early voting from October 24 through November 3, Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m until 4:00 p.m at the Courthouse Annex Room 204. There will be two Saturday early voting sessions on October 27 and November 3 from 9:00 a.m until 5:00 p.m. General Election Day is Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Polls will open at 6:30 a.m. and will close at 7:30 p.m. The last day to register to vote or make changes is October 16, 2018. Please exercise your civil duty and vote for the candidates you feel will best represent us in our government.