PARKERSBURG - Local voters got the chance to listen to candidates running for office during an event in Parkersburg Monday night.
About 100 people came to the Judge Black Annex for a meet-the-candidate event, co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Wood County and the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley.
''I am thrilled and totally delighted,'' said Nancy Novak, president of the League of Women Voters of Wood County. ''There were so many people here. I think we had a good cross section of the community here.''
Wood County Commissioner Blair Couch addresses those attending the League of Women Voters of Wood County’s meet-the-candidate event as his opponent for the seat, Harry Deitzler, listens. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
The public could write questions that moderator Kathy Stoltz read and then let the candidates answer.
Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, who is running unopposed, and Democrat Sue Thorn, who is facing incumbent David McKinley for the West Virginia 1st District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, told voters about themselves and what they want to do in office.
Voters got to listen to the four candidates running for the three seats in the West Virginia House of Delegates, 10th District, along with incumbent Republican Bill Anderson of the 8th District and Democratic candidate James Marion for the 9th District.
The two candidates running for the Wood County Commission, Republican incumbent Blair Couch and Democrat Harry Deitzler, answered questions from the crowd.
Questions for the House of Delegate candidates covered education, job creation, whether a permanent mineral trust fund should be set up as development begins on the Marcellus Shale deposit, what the candidates thought of fracking safety in regard to Marcellus Shale development, whether they think corporations should be allowed to donate money to campaigns, and how the state's college systems can rise to the challenge of educating the state's young people to handle the jobs from the expected natural gas boom.
Couch and Deitzler fielded questions covering Americans With Disabilities building codes, how the county budget should be spent, how they felt about the user fee passed by the city of Parkersburg, how the county can address the issue of housing prisoners, what the county can do to attract businesses, how the county deals with stray animals, and how the county supports the volunteer fire departments.
Deitzler said it was important for the county to take care of its mission first and adequately fund its agencies before giving money to outside groups, like the air show. The Wood County Sheriff's Department requested $200,000 for patrol cars, an expense that is expected as patrol cars wear out.
''I think if we need stuff done here first, we are going to have to do that first,'' Deitzler said. ''That said, I think it is important we continue to fund a number of community events and make this a good community. We have to be responsible about it.''
Couch said every year the commission sits down to work on the budget and the hardest thing to do is gauge the county's income. Once that is done, the commission can look at the requests of each department head and work on what they need and what can be worked out.
The commission tries to make sure something can be available to help special events, but Couch said the air show committee was asking for more money than the commission originally said it was going to give.
''As far as outside organizations, we do try to make sure the county commission benefits the county as a whole and that is our goal,'' Couch said. ''We want to make sure you can see the good works of the county commission in everyday life.''
Novak was pleased with the interaction between the candidates and the public.
''I thought the public asked good questions,'' she said. ''I thought the candidates took care to answer them carefully.
''We appreciate it when people turn out to learn about the candidates, because how else are they going to do it? A sign in someone's yard doesn't tell you anything about the candidate," Novak said.
"A commercial on television only tells you one side. When you ask them all the same questions, you get different answers and people can then make an informed decision,'' she said.