“Meet the Local Candidates” gathering at the Mercer County Courthouse gave the crowd an opportunity to hear the Democrat candidates for magistrate speak. Due to the number of candidates attending that night, each person was limited to three minutes. All promised to work hard to serve the people and do a good job.

Jake Hodges wants an opportunity to do something for the residents of Mercer County. Hodges said that it was his mission to help people in the county and if elected that is what he plans to do. Hodges is a college graduate and works as a substitute teacher for Mercer County.

Mark Shrader stated that this was his first attempt to run for public office. The Bluefielder said that his goal is to be available to serve the people. Shrader now works for the Mercer Board of Education.

Charles N. “Charlie” Poe mentioned that he had 22 years of experience in law enforcement. He stated that had worked on cases from traffic tickets to murders and everything in between. Poe said that it was his intention that offenders be brought to justice — fairly and impartially. Poe promised to be available for people who come before a magistrate and that he would take measures to prevent law enforcement officers from being tied up waiting on a magistrate.

Roy Compton, a veteran Mercer County law officer and former magistrate, told the crowd that he would like his old job back. Compton served as magistrate for 12 years previously. Compton simply asked for votes and support.

Rick Fowler, proudly endorsed by his uncle and former State Senator Tony Whitlow, said he wants to be re-elected. He asked for support to win the next election and for the elections for the next 15 or 20 years. Fowler promised to put the best interest of the people first.

Harold Buckner, incumbent magistrate and former Mercer County Sheriff, left his 10-gallon hat at home. Buckner asked for the crowd’s support. He promised that if elected, he would continue to work for and be fair to the people of Mercer County.

Marvin Lockhart said that he looked at the office of magistrate as an opportunity help people with problems turn a new direction and become good participants in society. Lockhart brought smiles to the crowd as he carried his small grandson while politicking during the social portion of the gathering.

David C. Smith, a Mercer County attorney, tendered his qualifications as being unique to the slate of candidates. Smith stated that his knowledge of law and court proceedings would make him the best qualified candidate. Smith cited several causes that he had championed that were beneficial to the residents of Mercer County. Smith stated that of all the candidates for magistrate, he was the only candidate that had actually worked to put money in the pockets of the people of Mercer County.

Susan Honaker promoted her work on many causes important to Mercer County. Honaker, near completing a degree in a criminal justice, offered her perspective on helping people through the office of magistrate. Honaker painted her vision of the job as an opportunity to relate to matters through the eyes of a mother, the heart of a compassion person and a knowledgeable female with training in the justice system.

Mike Flanigan thanked the people for allowing him to serve as magistrate for the last 12 years. Flanigan, appointed in 1996 to the office by Judge John Frazier, promised to continue to put the best interest of the people first.

Roscoe Boone Sr. asked for support citing his prospective from that of chaplain for the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department. Boone said that he would be available, even if he was needed in the middle of the night. Boone also played to the crowd. He said that he learned not to knock on doors and tell someone that he had a subpoena for them. He said it went much better “when I told them ‘I have an invitation for you for to attend a party at the courthouse.’ ”

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Bob Carter, candidate for the Mercer County Commission, asked that his statements made at the courthouse be clarified. Carter said that the county should have never allowed the jail bill to reach an unpaid sum of $1.7 million. Carter emphasized that the county needs to be run as a business. Carter wants to make it clear said that he never advocated bringing the jail back to Mercer County. That is not within the authority of the County Commission. Carter said the county needs to seek ways to reduce the costs at the jail. Carter said that the jail experience should be so unpleasant that no one wants to go there. Carter stated that he believed the bare minimum required by law to house and feed prisoners is all that should be provided.

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There you have it, a few words on politics and items of interest. The blue skies have touched our mountains with a crisp frost. I hope you have a blue sky day.

Wilson Butt, a Bluefield resident, is a retired Department of Highways official.

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