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Debate with local candidates

By Staff | Oct 19, 2012

The League of Women Voters invited the community to learn more about local candidates for delegate, county commission and assessor, at its forum held last Wednesday evening.

The debate held at the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies at Shepherd University, gave audience members a first hand opportunity to have their questions and concerns discussed by candidates.

For the 67th District delegate race, candidates Elliot Simon and Stephen Skinner faced-off about issues unique to the Eastern Panhandle and Shepherdstown.

Skinner, a Democrat, discussed his family history and personal investment in Shepherdstown and Jefferson County as the grandson of a former local delegate.

“I was born in Jefferson County,” he said.

“We need to make more of our decisions here and not in Charleston,” he went on to say.

In his opening statement Simon, a Republican, discussed what he sees as the state’s major issues with judicial reform, tort reform and over regulation.

“We need to take a common sense approach to regulation,” he said.

A discussion of local property values demonstrated the candidates clear philosophical differences.

“I don’t think that there’s really anything the government can do,” Simon said of improving property values.

“We have been decimated because of the housing prices… Can the state do something about it? Absolutely,” Skinner said.

A discussion about how the Eastern Panhandle can work to see more financial returns on the taxes it pays in, fostered some consensus between the two candidates, as both agreed they’d like to see taxes paid by local residents stay in the Eastern Panhandle.

Simon closed by saying that he is the candidate who could represent Shepherdstown without special interests. “Who is the person that is independent?” he said.

Skinner followed up by saying his only agenda is to serve the state and the local community.

“My agenda is that we live in a sustainable place,” he said.

County Commission candidates Frances Morgan and Jane Tabb calculated their differences Wednesday, as both have served as members of the commission.

Tabb, who is running as the “common sense,” Republican said she wants to work on behalf of the “silent majority,” of county residents like local farmers, who she feels have been underrepresented.

“I care deeply about this place I call home,” she said.

Morgan, the Democratic candidate, spoke to her record on the commission and discussed the county’s future consideration of a comprehensive plan that highlights what she described as “its history and beautiful landscapes.”

In a discussion about the county budget and comprehensive plan Tabb argued for low taxes and an improved process for making countywide changes.

“We need to speed up the process in planning and zoning,” she said.

Morgan said the county’s budget will need to change to reflect the possible loss in revenue that will result from Maryland’s adoption of table gaming, and said development of heritage tourism is the best way to prepare.

Of the comprehensive plan Morgan said it needs to be “citizen driven.”

“We’ve got to look at what we have here in Jefferson County,” she said.

Assessor candidates Angela Banks, a Democrat, and Gary Dungan, a Republican, gave brief overviews about the assessor’s role in county government and discussed new technologies that have made the work of the assessor’s office more efficient.

Banks, the current assessor, said, “More technology is wonderful.”

Dungan regarded his ability to work with the public as a major plus in his candidacy.

“I’m a friendly guy. I never get mad,” he said.

Citizens will vote for the local candidates of their choice on Nov. 6. For more information about voting and the candidates, visit the Jefferson County Clerk’s website at jeffersoncountyclerkwv.com/ or the West Virginia Secretary of States web site at www.sos.wv.gov/.