WILLIAMSON - And so it begins; the filing process for those seeking election to county and state offices for 2014.
Several positions up for grabs on the 2014 ballot would not be open to election this year, had it not been for the federal indictments against three officeholders that led to their resignations. Those offices include Mingo County Circuit Judge (held by Michael Thornsbury), Prosecuting Attorney (Michael Sparks) and County Commission (David Baisden). The office of sheriff will also appear on the ballot, following the death of Eugene Crum, who was shot and killed last April.
An interim judge, John Cummings, was appointed to oversee Thornsbury’s responsibilities until a permanent replacement is named. Teresa Maynard, who served as an assistant prosecutor under Sparks was appointed to head up that office; Mike Carter, a former Board of Education member, was selected from a field of 14 applicants for the commissioner’s position, and James Smith, a 15-year-veteran with the sheriff’s department is now at the helm of that office.
The individuals who have filed their intention to seek office include Sheriff James Smith (Tug/Hardee District) for the position he now holds, former sheriff Lonnie Hannah (Lee District), who is once again seeking the office of County Commission (the seat currently held by Greg “Hootie Smith); Jonathan “Duke” Jewell (Williamson District) has thrown his hat into the ring for the Circuit Court Judge’s seat, and Roy Tiller (Williamson District), who has decided to challenge for the sheriff’s office.
Bob Wellman and Earnest “Big Ern” Williams, both from Kermit/Hardee District, have filed for the County Executive Committee.
Sheriff Smith thanked all those who came out to support him and watch his official filing, and stated that he is grateful for the overwhelming support he has received in his decision to seek the office he now holds.
“I have served the citizens of this county for well over 15 years now, and I can tell you that our department is at the top of its game,” said Smith. “We’re fully staffed, have new equipment in place to aid our officers, and we are presently conducting numerous investigations that will soon lead to arrests. The safety and well-being of the public has always been my top priority.”
When asked why he had chosen to enter the field of politics again after serving eight years as sheriff of Mingo County, Hannah told the Daily News that he sees a need for positive leadership in the county, and remarked that it’s time to reinstate integrity, pride and trust in the courthouse.
“It’s time we take the appropriate steps to make this county a place that its residents can be proud to live in, not embarrassed or disgraced,” said the former sheriff. “We have an opportunity to change Mingo for the better and I ask the voters to allow me the chance to help set that plan in motion.”
Hannah stated that, if elected to the office of commission, he intends to donate a portion of his salary to the needy residents who call Mingo home, and issued a challenge to others to do the same.
‘We’ve got a lot of folks hurting right now,” Hannah said. “Jobs are being eliminated, families are being forced to leave the area to find work.”
“I stand on this principle: Good public servants give back - they don’t take.”
The deadline to file for filing for office in the 2014 primary election is Jan. 25.