GOP on Move In Marshall County

MOUNDSVILLE – Beginning in January, three Republicans will occupy the three Marshall County Commission seats – a situation local residents say hasn’t happened in recent memory.

Commissioner-elect Bob Miller Jr. will join sitting commissioners Don Mason and Brian Schambach on the board.

Marshall County residents also elected a Republican to represent them in the state House of Delegates. Republican David Evans and incumbent Delegate Mike Ferro, D-Marshall, received the nod from voters.

While the change in county politics from Democrat to Republican has come on rather suddenly over the past decade, county Republican Chairman Ron Morris remained guarded as to whether Marshall County voters are becoming more conservative.

“It’s hard to say,” he commented. “It was a presidential election and more people came out to vote. Maybe it had something to do with the presidential race. Every county in West Virginia went Republican, and that might have been the reason.

“We got a pretty good turnout due to the presidential race. It gave (voters) the opportunity to examine other candidates.”

Morris added the party was pleased with the addition of Miller and Evans.

“Yes, it surprises a lot of people,” he said. “I can’t remember the last time that ever happened – if it ever has.”

Morris serves on the Marshall County Sewerage District board, and noted he has had positive dealings with the county commission, which presently includes Democrat Commissioner Jason “Jake” Padlow. Miller defeated Padlow in this month’s election.

“I’m sure things will continue as they always have, with the commissioners making decisions as they have in the past,” Morris said.

“On the sewer commission, we have to report to the commissioners, and all the commissioners have always supported us.

“They also made decisions to move Marshall County forward. I’m sure a county commission with three Republicans will do the same.”

Miller’s victory came following a canvass of the Nov. 6 general election results. Election night totals initially showed him losing to Padlow by 61 votes. Miller ending up winning by 70 votes.

Morris praised workers in the Marshall County Clerk’s Office that put in extra hours this week to do a complete inventory of all votes cast in the election.

“I really believe they worked very, very hard to get everything right,” Morris said. “… They did an excellent job, and they wanted to make sure they got it correct. I have to praise all those workers.

“I wish the (correct) total would have come out on election night so we wouldn’t have had this issue, but it appears it was an honest error. Everybody makes mistakes, and this one has been corrected. To me, it is not an issue.”

Kathy Stalnaker, chairwoman of the Marshall County Democrat Party, said she had no comment regarding the election canvass. But she does believe the county’s Democrats will have to put forth more effort to regain a foothold in county government.

“I wish we would have had more support,” Stalnaker commented. “Next time we will have to get out and work harder, and educate the electorate.

“I truly don’t know” why Democrats lost two significant elected offices in Marshall County, she added. “Our job is to find out what happened.”

The other question hanging over Marshall County from the Nov. 6 election is what happens next. Padlow has said he believes the process that discovered the error is flawed, and he does have legal options available if he wants to contest the election.

“I think that the integrity of the system has been violated by two people (county Clerk Jan Pest and Deputy Clerk Winnie Reilly) thinking they can go into the system and start running and retabulating ballots without any ballot commissioners there, without any county commissioners there and without anybody from the prosecutor’s office there,” Padlow said last week when he learned of the error. “The system has been compromised by somebody going into that office and breaking a seal on a bag without any presence of any election official there. The whole election probably should be thrown out.”

Padlow could not be reached for additional comment late last week.