By Ron Gregory
WILLIAMSON — Add “county Democrat chairman” to H. Truman Chafin’s resume.
Chafin, Mingo County’s long-serving state senator and former county chairman, assumed the latter office again when members of the Democrat Executive Committee met Monday in the circuit courtroom at the Mingo County Courthouse in Williamson.
The meeting was called to order at 4 p.m. by outgoing Chairman Dick White. White told all assembled, prior the the meeting, that he no longer wanted to hold the job he has had for the past four years.
Once the meeting convened, Freddie Newsome nominated Chafin for the post. The motion was seconded by “Big Ern” Williams. When White asked for other nominations, Delegate Justin Marcum was presented. Marcum and Chafin sat in the gallery during the meeting, with members of the executive committee seated in the jury box. Members “Big Jim” Hatfield and Williams sat in chairs beside the 12-member jury section since there are 14 members of the committee.
When White tallied the vote, Newsome and Williams were joined by Hatfield, Dave Justice, Stephanie Wollum, Dan Kinder and Frances Crawford in giving the senator seven votes.
Then, White counted the hands for Marcum and ticked off six names: Lisa Kirk, Jerome Marcum, Phyllis White, Emily Howell, Glen Dale Canada and Jearlene Maynard.
Member Irene Toler said she was abstaining from the vote “because I don’t want to have another tie like we did four years ago and have us split up and fighting for the next four years.”
White then announced the vote as seven for Chafin and six for Marcum with one member not voting. He then said, “I’ll turn the meeting over to the new chairman, Mr. Chafin,” and the pair exchanged hand shakes as Chafin chaired the remainder of the meeting.
Before taking a vote for other officers, Chafin assured those in attendance he will work for “unity in the party, unity in the county and unity in the family.” The new chairman added, “We have all been together; we’ve all grown apart; and I want to see us all back together again.”
Chafin thanked Dick White for his “service to the party” and said he looks forward to working with House of Delegates members Harry Keith White and Marcum during the coming years.
The veteran senator said he plans to revive events he formerly had as chairman. “I want us all to get together for lunch in Charleston and at the Capitol,” he said. “We’ll also have four meetings a year, picnics and other get-togethers.” He noted that Democrats “have a tough election this year. We’ve all got to work hard and work together for success.”
Newsome was then re-elected vice chairman with Lisa Kirk again being chosen as secretary. Marcum also was nominated for vice chair but Chafin did not ask for votes for him when he counted seven for Newsome. Kirk won on a 7-5 vote over Lora Grimmett. Toler was chosen to remain as treasurer, with Crawford required to co-sign any checks.
The meeting concluded with a prayer for unity. Chafin said he will schedule another meeting of the committee in the near future.
Toler defended her refusal to vote in the chairman race, saying, “You don’t know what this committee has gone through for four years. I don’t want any more fussing and fighting.”