Poca mayoral race town’s only contested election

The race for mayor of Poca will be the town’s only contested election Nov. 4.

Only one person, incumbent Carroll Westfall, applied to run for town recorder by the June 30 deadline, and only four people applied to run for the five-member town council. Only one of the four candidates, Regina Mayse, is not a current council member.

Current Mayor Jim Caruthers said the council will have to appoint someone to the fifth council seat when the winners take office Jan. 1.

Caruthers, who said he was a Putnam County commissioner for 18 years and has been appointed as Poca’s mayor twice but never been elected, is not seeking another term. Current Councilman William “Wimpy” Jones and Mike Potter, a coal miner who said he’s never run for office before, are vying for the position.

Potter, 39, said that he hopes to engage younger residents and provide more activities for children and families.

“I just felt like that, being a younger person, I could reach a younger part of the town,” Potter said.

Jones didn’t return calls for comment over the weekend.

In the past, Poca has held local elections in June, and winners took office July 1. But the council voted in April to begin hosting elections simultaneously with the November general election. Town candidates will now be on the ballot alongside county, state and U.S. congressional candidates.

The town election was originally scheduled for June 2015, but Caruthers said current officials agreed to reduce their current terms by six months to change the election date. The move is expected to save Poca, a town of fewer than 1,000 residents, $5,000 per election and hopefully increase voter turnout. Only 66 people voted in the last town election, Caruthers said.

“It’s kind of a sad state of affairs when you have such a low turnout,” he said.

Reach Ryan Quinn at ryan.quinn@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1254.

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