Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

May 14, 2014

Basham, Puckett to vie for Mercer Commission

PRINCETON — Terry Basham won the Democratic primary Tuesday in the closely watched Mercer County Commission race and will now face Republican Greg Puckett this November.

With 49 of 49 precincts reporting, Basham led four challengers in the race for the Democratic nomination and was the apparent winner Tuesday with 1,133 votes, according to unofficial returns.

Phillip B. Ball was a close second with 1,006 votes followed by 477 votes for Robert W. “Bob” Carter; John Sommers, 299; and Lyle Cottle, 213.

Basham was appointed last October to fill the interim commission vacancy created by the death of Joe Coburn.

“I would like to thank all of the people of Mercer County who voted for me and I appreciate their support,” Basham said. “I think it (the fall contest) will be a positive race. I don’t like a mudslinging race. I think it will be a positive race.”

In the meantime, Basham said he and his fellow commissioners will continue working to create economic development, jobs and new water projects for Mercer County.

Puckett, who ran unopposed for the Republican nomination, won the GOP primary with 1,241 votes.

Puckett said he is looking forward to the November match-up with Basham.

“Just getting past the primary, and knowing who the opponent is going to be is sort of a good step forward in knowing where our county is going to be come November,” Puckett said. “There are a lot of changes that need to take place and I’m real excited to represent Mercer County going forward into the general election in November. I would like to thank everybody that came out to vote today. Whether you are a Republican or Democrat, it is always great to have a lot of people to go out and do what is right and vote for the candidate they like the best.”

Basham was appointed last October to fill the interim commission vacancy created by the death of Joe Coburn. Basham is a former member of the West Virginia House of Delegates serving Mercer County from June of 1987 to January of 1991. During his tenure in the House, he served on various committees, including Judiciary, Education and Roads and Transportation. He worked for the West Virginia Department of Highways District 10 office in Princeton from February 1991 to October of 2013 as an office manager for resurfacing while also serving on various projects as an inspector, project supervisor and officer manager. Basham also is a former coal miner who worked as a wireman, certified electrician and fire boss for Consolidated Coal Company.

Puckett is the current executive director of Community Connections. He has worked with communities across the region in recent years on special projects and initiatives aimed at preventing the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs among youth and family. He spearheaded the charge in 2006 to support funding for teen courts throughout the state and has advocated for the establishment of local community-based coalitions in every county. Puckett also helped with the formation of the local Creating Opportunities for Youth community coalition, which was recognized by America’s Promise as a four-time winner of the 100 Best Communities for Young People awards from 2005 to 2010. Puckett also serves on several state and national committees, including the Governor’s Committee on Crime, Delinquency and Correction and the National Coalition Advisory Committee for the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. He also is currently involved with ongoing efforts to revitalize downtown Mercer Street in Princeton.

Puckett campaigned on a theme of economic development, job creation, addressing substance abuse issues, and helping county youth succeed. He also has voiced support for the hiring of a county administrator.

More Democrats voted in Tuesday’s primary than Republicans, according to Mercer County Clerk Verlin Moye. He said 3,266 Democrats voted as opposed to 1,450 Republicans. That wasn’t unexpected since all of the Republican primary races in Mercer County were uncontested.

Voter turnout overall was very light. Moye estimated turnout at 11.71 percent.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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