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Candidates lining up for commission races

by John G. Miller

MANAGING EDITOR

CLARKSBURG -- With two Harrison County Commission seats up for election in the May 2002 primary, veteran politicians are forecasting an intriguing campaign.

Despite the election being six months away, it's already been established that there will be competition on the Democratic side of the ballot.

Current Commission President Beth Taylor said she is looking forward to re-election and serving the residents of Harrison County. She is currently in her 11th year as a commissioner.

She'll have at least one challenger.

Ron Watson published an advertisement in Thursday's editions of The Exponent and Telegram announcing his intention to seek the position. Watson's daughter said he was in Idaho Thursday, but confirmed her father would seek the Democratic nomination.

The fact two commission seats are up for election is unusual, since it only occurs when a commissioner leaves office before his term has ended.

The other seat up for election is currently held by Jim Smith. He was appointed after longtime commissioner Tom Keeley left to head the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration for Gov. Bob Wise.

State Delegate Frank "Chunki" Angotti told The Exponent Telegram on Thursday he would seek that seat, which will be only a two-year term.

Angotti said that he wanted to give those residents interested in seeking his House seat adequate notice as well as tell voters he wanted to fulfill his obligation to those who elected him to the state position.

Angotti said his decision to seek the County Commission position was not an easy one to make.

"I wanted to make sure I fulfilled my obligation to the voters who entrusted me to be their delegate," Angotti said. "At the same time, being a delegate and a small business owner is a hardship on my family and my employees."

Angotti, who owns Chunki's Restaurant in Clarksburg, said that the travel and time spent in Charleston made it difficult for him to serve all those roles. He believes while the County Commission seat will require plenty of his time, the elimination of travel and week-long stays in Charleston is more tolerable to a small business owner.

Despite being the top elected officials in the county, commissioners are considered part-time and are allowed to hold other jobs. The position pays $28,000 per year and also includes hospitalization and retirement benefits.

Smith, president of Precision Coil, said he has not decided whether to run for the two-year term, but would definitely not seek election to the six-year term. He said he would make his decision on the two-year term after Thanksgiving.

John G. Miller can be reached at 626-1473 or by e-mail at jmiller@exponent-telegram.com.

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