Only two of eight races in Ohio County’s primary ballot are uncontested as local voters begin the process of learning more about those running for elected office.
In the race for Ohio County Circuit Court Clerk no one filed to contest incumbent Democrat Brenda Miller, who has been in the position since 1999. Ohio County Commissioner Randy Wharton is uncontested as well. Wharton, a Democrat, has served as one of three commissioners since 1998 and is the current president of the Ohio County Development Authority.
The race for seats on the Ohio County Board of Education and for the four seats for Ohio County Magistrate will be final on May 10, West Virginia’s primary election day, and the election of Ohio County Assessor and Ohio County Clerk will also stand because only Democrats and no Republicans filed for those positions.
Ohio County Assessor:
Incumbent Kathie Hoffman, a Democrat who has been in office the past eight years, will face newcomer April Luv, a Valley Grove resident who owns two years of experience as an employee in the Assessor’s Office. Luv has worked in the real estate field for several years, and Hoffman was employed by the Ohio County Sheriff’s Tax Office before being first elected in 2008.
Ohio County Board of Education:
Two of the five seats are available on the Ohio County Board of Education, and it is a race that has attracted six candidates from District 1 and District 2. The school system’s board has been in the local news since voting 3-2 not to renew the contract of Superintendent Dr. Diana Vargo on Dec. 29, 2014.
In District 2, incumbent Sarah Koegler will be opposed by Jenny Jebbia. Marlene Midget, and Roger Smith. Koegler has two sons in the Ohio County Schools system and recently gave birth to her and her husband’s third child. She is employed by Teach for America, an organization that recruits future leaders to teach in low-income communities.
Jebbia is the regional marketing manager for the West Virginia Treasurer’s Office, and she is the mother of two graduates of Wheeling Park High School and of a daughter who is a student in Ohio County Schools. Midget was employed by Ohio County Head Start for more than 30 years before her retirement last year, and Smith is a former Spanish teacher at Wheeling Park High School.
In District 1, incumbent board member Gary Kestner will face challenger Zach Abraham. Kestner, the former Transportation Director for the school system, was elected in 2012.
Abraham is a 1990 graduate of Wheeling Park High School, a 1995 grad of West Virginia University, and is a principal owner of ALIGNHR Inc.
Because of representation requirements set forth by state code, there can be two winners from District 2 or one from District 1 and one from District 2.
Ohio County Clerk:
With the retirement of County Clerk Patty Fahey, three Democratic candidates will vie for the position come May. Pam Obyc is a current employee of the county clerk’s office, and Bruce Teachout is a current employee of the Ohio County Commission, and Mike Kelly is a Wheeling attorney.
Ohio County Magistrate:
All four current magistrates — Charles Murphy, Patty Murphy, Harry Radcliffe, and Joe Roxby — have filed for re-election, and three opponents also will be on the ballot.
Charles Murphy is a former Ohio County Sheriff’s deputy who has been an Ohio County magistrate for the past 16 years. Patty Murphy has been a magistrate for 12 years, and Harry Radcliffe has been in office since 2000. Roxby was first elected to office in 2008.
Mark Garrett, a former Wheeling police office, first ran for the magistrate position four years ago, as did Desiree Lyonette. Justin Hershberger is a defense attorney in Wheeling.
Ohio County Prosecutor:
Incumbent Scott Smith may be unopposed in the May primary, but the prosecutor will face off in November against Wheeling attorney Martin Sheehan. Smith has been the county prosecutor since 2001, and Sheehan has practiced law in Ohio County for more than 25 years.
Ohio County Sheriff:
Term limits mandated by West Virginia Code did not allow current Ohio County Sheriff Pat Butler to seek a third term, and two Republicans and three Democrats filed to become the county’s new sheriff.
The county sheriff is responsible for law enforcement and tax collection and the new sheriff will also select a chief deputy to oversee deployments of deputies and training.
Republicans John Powell and Martin Kimball will face off in the May primary. Powell, a candidate for sheriff in 2012, is retired from the United States Navy and currently is employed as a firearms expert at Cabela’s at The Highlands. Kimball has been a member of the Wheeling Police Department for nearly 35 years and is now the Deputy Chief and in charge of the Operations/Uniforms Division.
The Democrats will be Bob Henry, Tom Howard, and Vinny Jacovetty. Henry retired from the Wheeling Police Department after 31 years, and he continues working in law enforcement as a part-time officer in the village of Bethlehem. Henry also is employed by the state Public Service Commission. Howard currently serves as a School Resource Officer for the Wheeling Police Department, and Jacovetty is the owner of Ace Garage in Wheeling. He has run for this position in the past.
(Photos by Steve Novotney)