By DANYEL VANREENAN
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Gateway Republic Women have a lot to celebrate, according to President Lynn Staton.
In the tri-county area, 11 Republican women now hold elected public offices. Four are in Jefferson County, four in Berkeley County and three in Morgan County. Out of those women holding office, eight attended the Gateway Republic Women’s annual gathering to celebrate victories and connect with one another.
The Gateway Republican Women is affiliated with the West Virginia Federation of Republican Women, as well as the National Federation of Republican Women. Staton said the organization embodies and promotes the principles and policies the Republican party stands for.
The organization, founded in 2005, serves the tri-county area, encouraging local Republican women to become involved and support the local political process. Gateway Republican Women also raise funds for candidates, offer campaign guides and this year, Staton said the organization assisted local candidates in a unique way.
“We sent just under 4,000 letters to registered Republican women in the tri-county area who hadn’t voted in the last four election cycles,” Staton said. “I think it really benefited the candidates at the polls.”
Jill Upson, State Delegate Representing West Virginia’s 65th House district, said she’s excited to work on issues to move the state forward in the upcoming term.
“I think I’ve been successful because I’ve focused on the issues,” Upson said. “Jobs are a women’s issues, education is a women’s issue, the economy is a women’s issue. I’m focused on moving the state forward. We made sweeping reforms in the last session, and I’m hoping to continue that work in the upcoming term.”
Patricia Rucker, State Senator of the 16th district, was also excited about the upcoming term. Rucker’s district only includes Jefferson County and a portion of Berkeley County, but she said creating policies and plans to help the Eastern Panhandle will help the entire state.
“I can tell you (the State Senate) is focused on getting ahead on a state level,”Rucker said. “We’re going to be thinking of more ways to bring people to West Virginia. That might be through incentive or other programs.”
Increasing funding for education is another top priority, according to Rucker. She said increasing funding for education will help West Virginians statewide.
Another Republican woman honored at the event was Saira Blair, district 59 West Virginia House Delegate, who wants to fix the West Virginia budget and create a stable state economy.
“We’re looking at eliminating redundancies in the state government,” Blair said. “I’m looking forward to working with Governor Jim Justice and optimistic that he will keep the promises he made in his campaign.”
Women holding county offices were also honored, including Jane Tabb, Jefferson County commissioner. According to Tabb, she was the first woman to hold the Jefferson County Commissioner title in 2001 during her first election.
“It felt great to win that honor,” Tabb said. “I graduated from the Dairy Science program at Virginia Tech in 75. There were only three girls in the program at the time, so I’m used to facing challenges. There’s always challenges. There’s never enough money for everything, but that can be said statewide.”
Chief Magistrate Betty Jo Hersh was also present. She was reelected as magistrate, and was also appointed Chief Magistrate, a title she was flattered to hold. She said her master’s degree in social work from West Virginia University was one reason she felt she had received the appointment.
“When someone is arrested, they automatically see a magistrate, who sets bond. Chief Magistrate serves as the go between for judges and issues other magistrates might have. It’s a difficult job, but I’m very honored to be appointed,” Hersh said.
Other women honored included Elaine Mauck, elected to Berkeley County Council; Catie Wilkes Delligatti, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney; Melanie Shambaugh, elected to Morgan County Circuit Clerk; Kim Nickles, elected to Morgan County Circuit Clerk; Debra McLaughlin, Morgan County Prosecuting Attorney; and Jacqueline C. Shadle, Jefferson County Clerk.
“I’m thrilled about the turn out today,” Staton said. “Today we wanted to show our appreciation for the Republican women in service now and thank them for the sacrifices they make to serve our communities.”
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