A Charleston developer filing to run for the Kanawha County Commission and Nitro’s police chief filing to run for sheriff of Putnam County, were among the developments Monday as candidates got their first chance to officially put their names on the 2020 ballot.
Republican Dewayne Duncan, a real estate developer from the West Side, filed to run for the seat held for decades by Republican Kanawha Commissioner Hoppy Shores.
“I think Hoppy’s done a wonderful job for the county. However, there’s always room for improvement — there’s always room,” Duncan said.
Duncan said he would try to avoid tax increases for Kanawha residents, including any type of increase in the county income tax rate or the implementation of a county business tax or user fee.
“If there are increases, or new taxes, it becomes more burdensome in the community, and I’m really in opposition to that,” Duncan said. “Business and entrepreneurship is actually key to economic development, but we’ve got to protect consumers. We have to grow, but we have to protect.”
According to Duncan’s news release, he has been a member of the Whitesville City Council in Boone County and the Boone-Raleigh Public Service District.
Of Kanawha County’s 10 magistrates, nine filed for reelection as a group Monday: Jess Bailes, Traci Carper-Strickland, Rusty Casto, Brent Hall, Pete Lopez, Jack Pauley, Joe Shelton and Mike Sisson. The other magistrate, Hollis Lewis II, has been running an active campaign.
Lewis was appointed last year to replace Kim Aaron, who retired and was moved to senior status. Aaron announced on her Facebook page Monday that she had filed to run for magistrate in Jackson County, where she now lives.
The only Kanawha magistrate challenger to file was Harry Carpenter, head of Kanawha County’s home confinement program. He will challenge Gary Sheff, a local business owner who was appointed this month to fill the spot of retired magistrate Tim Halloran.
The timing, Carpenter said, is perfect this year. He plans to retire from the sheriff’s office, and Halloran’s retirement was like “the planets all lined up.”
“I respect every magistrate, they’ve all earned their seat at the table. Had [Halloran] not retired, we wouldn’t ever be having this conversation,” Carpenter said. “This is not just an afterthought. ... I had a good relationship with folks in magistrate court, and I always said I’d never run against an incumbent.”
Lopez, Pauley and Shelton have been magistrates for more than 20 years. Pauley was suspended for 45 days in 2018 by the West Virginia Supreme Court because of his actions in two cases where defendants died.
Carper-Strickland has been a magistrate for about 15 years. Hall and Sisson were first elected in 2012. Casto, a longtime Nitro mayor, was elected in 2016. Bailes, a former Dunbar police chief, was elected in 2018 to finish the term of Julie Yeager, who resigned after embezzling money from a state magistrates’ association.
The other candidates vying for reelection include:
Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford, a Democrat, who will run to keep his seat for what would be a fourth term. He told the Gazette-Mail in May that he hopes to become the county’s longest-serving sheriff, which he will do if he remains in office this year.
Kanawha Assessor Sallie Robinson filed Monday to keep her seat. Robinson was first elected in 2012, taking the position after longtime assessor Phyllis Gatson retired.
Two members of the Kanawha school board, Jim Crawford and Ric Cavender, also filed for reelection.
Putnam County Sheriff Steve Deweese cannot run for reelection, as state law prohibits sheriffs from serving more than two consecutive terms. Nitro Chief of Police Bobby Eggleton filed for the race to replace him on Monday.
Eggleton worked for years at the Charleston Police Department and retired in 2014 as the department’s Special Enforcement Unit commander.
Hurricane lawyer Brenden Long, who ran unsuccessfully for state Supreme Court in 2018, filed for the Putnam County Commission seat now held by Stephen Andes.
Putnam Prosecuting Attorney Mark Sorsaia, who has held that position since 1996, filed to run for another term. Gary Warner, of Red House, is running for Putnam assessor, an office now held by Sherry Hayes. Eggleton, Sorsaia, Long and Warner are all Republicans.
Circuit Clerk William “J.J.” Mullins, another Republican, filed to keep his seat. Mullins was appointed after Ronnie Matthews, the previous circuit clerk, died in 2018.
Two Putnam magistrates, Kylene Dunlap Brown and Jean Anne Luikart, filed for reelection. Brown has served as a magistrate for over a decade, while Luikart was elected in 2016 after working as a magistrate assistant in Kanawha County.
Osh Assi, a Republican business owner from Hurricane, filed Monday to challenge Mullins.