ST. CLAIRSVILLE - More than 100 voters turned out Wednesday for a "meet the candidates" forum sponsored by the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Interest in the upcoming March 6 primary election was evident and is always greater during an election year, according to Mark Thomas, chairman of the chamber's legislative committee. He said it's a busier time than mid-term elections, with the presidential race leading a ballot that also includes contests for Congress, the Ohio General Assembly and county offices.
"There are so many people on the ballot that the electorate is a little more interested," Thomas said.
Candidates in contested primary elections for a congressional seat, Belmont County sheriff and Belmont County treasurer each were given the opportunity to address the luncheon forum, which took place at Undo's West in St. Clairsville.
Wilson was previously elected twice to the seat, but he was defeated by incumbent Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, in 2010.
"I'm running against a good man - he served well," Adulewicz said of Wilson. "But I'm wishing you would vote for me instead of Charlie."
Adulewicz said he supports voluntary prayer in schools and is both "pro-life" and "pro-gun."
Wilson said it is exciting that East Ohio could become the "epicenter for energy" through its involvement in the Marcellus Shale industry.
"In my prayers every night, I include a cracker for Belmont County," he said.
Flanagan said he has been in law enforcement for 17 years, and he touted his efforts in drug enforcement. He said he has been deputized by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the U.S. Marshals Service and Department of Homeland Security.
"I'm a graduate of St. John's High School, and that's the only formal education I had," Flanagan said. "The rest of my education came from the streets. I'm a street cop. ... If elected, I wouldn't be going out there as a cop, but as a police administrator."
Thompson said he is a graduate of Wheeling Barber College who later went on to the Army to serve in Vietnam. While he was overseas, his wife was killed in a car crash.
"When I came back, I thought if I could get a job in law enforcement - and maybe stop someone from going through what I experienced - then it's worth it," Thompson said.
He started working in law enforcement in 1969.
Thompson is seeking a third term as sheriff. Thompson said during his time in office, there have been 88 convictions of sexual predators in Belmont County - seven of whom received life sentences.
"I'm honored," he continued. "Let's face it. Our most precious asset is our children."
Former county commissioner Michael Bianconi spoke of his background as a coal miner and member of the Air Force, as well as his present roles as a steelworker, Pease Township trustee and Brookside volunteer firefighter.
County employee Katherine Curfman said she has experience as an accountant and has worked in the Belmont County Magistrate's Office as a court administrator for the past 11 years. Prior to this, she was employed at the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack as an auditor.
St. Clairsville lawyer Michael Shaheen has been a juvenile prosecutor and law director for both the villages of Bellaire and Adena. He has also served as chairman of the Ohio Liquor Control Commission.