Richard Ferguson of Wellsburg has declared his candidacy for Brooke County commissioner.
He is seeking one of two seats on the commission that will appear on ballots in the May 8 primary election. It is the seat that was held by the late Bernie Kazienko, and the winner will serve the remainder of Kazienko's term.
Ferguson is in the last year of his second four-year term as Brooke County sheriff. State law prohibits county sheriffs from serving more than two consecutive terms.
He previously served as sheriff from 1977-80, and as interim Wellsburg police chief and Brooke County constable.
"My campaign is focused on the progress of Brooke County and the well-being of our citizens," Ferguson said. "I will be a full-time commissioner. I will hold regular office hours with an open door policy. I feel that the people of Brooke County deserve nothing less.
"Brooke County is at the center of a unique phenomenon with the discovery of Marcellus and Utica shale formations containing enormous gas deposits," he continued. "This current period seems to parallel previous times when other natural resources were found to be abundant in West Virginia. We must be certain that Brooke County is included in the oversight of this industry and that our resources are not depleted without benefit to our local economy. It is imperative that we remain vigilant in the protection of these resources."
Ferguson added that county leaders also must ensure that local people have the opportunity to be trained and employed in these new jobs.
"Action must be taken quickly to develop guidelines for the drilling companies that would be enforced by Brooke County," he said. "Not pursuing this matter is unacceptable."
As sheriff, Ferguson worked with Brooke County school officials on such efforts as the prevention and resource officer program. He said if elected, he will continue to work with the school system.
"Our young citizens must understand that we care about them and their prosperity," he said. "I also will never overlook our senior citizens. They are the foundation of our county history and deserve our patience and respect.
"I have great admiration for our faith-based background and will gladly assist any of our local clergy and congregants," he added. "I will approach county operations with a wise, common-sense fashion. I will be certain that all departments stay within their approved budgets."