Tuesday night the first of three political debates were conducted at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.
Due to the coronavirus, no audience was present in the Savas-Kostas Performing Arts Center. The debate aired live on WVOW.
Candidates were asked an equal number of questions, afforded two minutes to answer and one-minute for rebuttal.
Candidates for the 24th district House of Delegates, Logan County Prosecuting Attorney and Logan County Sheriff participated in the debate.
Delegate candidates were asked about Governor Justice’s decision not to call a special session to deal with the outbreak of COVID-19. Democratic and Republican candidates vying to join the state legislature agreed the Governor should have called a special session.
Republican Margitta Mazzocchi said Justice’s decision was an over-step.
“I like Governor Justice,” Mazzocchi said, “but to be honest he over-stepped because he did not let us choose what we want to do.”
Democrat Susan Shelton Perry said the Governor did not follow the constitution.
“The Governor should have followed our constitution and allowed the legislature to come in and prioritize the funding,” Perry said.
Republican Jordan Bridges said the Governor’s actions lack the enforcement of law.
“Mandates don’t do anything,” Bridges said. “If they wanted something to happen it needed to become law. The only way for it to become law is through legislation.”
Democrat Tim Tomblin, the lone incumbent for the double seat district, said appropriation is the job of the legislature.
“I think he’s done a good job letting healthcare professionals handle it,” Tomblin said. “I think he was wrong in not calling a special session to figure out how the money should be appropriated. Actually, that’s what our job is.”
Candidates for Logan County Prosecuting Attorney were asked what the biggest challenge is facing the office and how they plan to address it if elected.
Democratic candidate David Wandling said the biggest challenge is still substance abuse.
“It has threatened to overwhelm entire segments of law enforcement and child protective services.” Wandling said. “We’re stretched to the max.”
Wandling said the solution is supply and demand. The county needs to continue to lock up the dealers, but the demand side of substance abusers needs to be addressed. Wandling said addicts need to be held accountable, however he stressed treatment over incarceration.
Independent candidate Joe Spradling said meaningful indictments are missing from the courtroom in Logan County.
“Drugs is a great problem,” Spradling said, “but it’s not a new problem. The biggest challenge with the office today is the ability to bring the number and quality of indictments they need to bring.”
Spradling cited experiences with complicated indictments with stacked charges that he said makes the process unfair for the defendant.
“A lot of the problems they make themselves,” Spradling said.
Candidates for Logan County Sheriff were asked about budget priorities for the sheriff’s office. Democratic candidate Paul “PD” Clemens said his priority is more deputies.
“My priority would be to hire more deputies,” Clemens said. “Boots on the ground doing the work that needs to be done to solve crimes and help deter drugs.”
Republican Candidate Chris Trent said more deputies is a must, but equipping the current deputies is just as important.
“The budget priority that I would have,” Trent said, “find the latest equipment to keep deputies safe on the road and to get more involved in the local community.”
The entire debate is available now at WVOWRadio.com under “podcasts & streaming.”
The next debate will be conducted Tuesday, September 29 and the final debate is Tuesday, October 20.
The only way to hear the debates live is on WVOW Logan and online at WVOWRadio.com.
Debates begin at 7 o’clock each night.