A number of last-minute candidate filings will make the May primary election more meaningful for many area voters, including House of Delegates races in the 3rd and 4th districts.
The deadline to file in person at the West Virginia Secretary of State's office or at county courthouses around the state was Saturday.
However, candidates filing by mail whose paperwork is postmarked by Saturday will be accepted - and a number of last-minute entries will impact races on the ballot in the Northern Panhandle, forcing primary contests to narrow down the field in some and turning previously uncontested races competitive in others.
Wheeling attorneys Martin Sheehan and Chris Elswick, both Republicans, and Shawn Fluharty, a Democrat, have entered the fray in the 3rd District House of Delegates race, which now will need the May 13 primary to determine which four candidates will move on to the November general election. They join previous filers Dolph Santorine of Wheeling and incumbent Erikka Storch on the Republican side, and Wheeling attorney Holli Smith and Dave Palmer, a Wheeling building inspector and retired firefighter, on the Democrat ticket.
Democrat David Sidiropolis of McMechen has filed to run in the 4th District, meaning there will be a primary contest to determine which two among Sidiropolis, Dave Hall of Glen Dale and incumbent Mike Ferro to decide who their party's two candidates in November will be.
Previously uncontested races in the 5th and 6th delegate districts are now competitive, as Republican Mary Kay Milliken has filed to run against Delegate Dave Pethtel, D-Wetzel, in the 5th District, while Delegate William Roger Romine, R-Tyler, faces a challenge from Karl Paul, a Democrat from Wick. None face a primary contest, however, barring additional late filings.
At the county level, Brooke County Commissioner Norma Tarr now faces a Democrat primary challenge from Stacey Wise of Follansbee. No Republicans have filed in that race to date.
In Hancock County, County Clerk George Foley, a Democrat, will face off against Republican Michael "Freddie" Capito of Weirton in November. Neither appears likely to face a primary contest, as both are the only members of their respective parties to file.
Meanwhile, the number of contestants seeking one of three seats on the Wetzel County Board of Education more than doubled Monday, as Nathan Anderson, Josh Balcerek and Rob Christen, all of New Martinsville, filed to run, joining incumbents Michael Blair and Robert Patterson.