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Jefferson County state senator won’t seek re-election

Journal file photo Herb Snyder
Journal file photo
Herb Snyder

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — State Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, announced Monday that he will not seek re-election next year. Rather, he will run for the Jefferson County Clerk.

“It is the right personal decision,” Snyder said Monday in a telephone interview. “It’s time. I first served in the Senate in 1997. That was 20 years ago. I asked myself, ‘If not now, when?’ I did not want to spend my entire life in the Senate. I did not want to grow old in the Senate. I want to come home. I have a passion for public service. So, I’m running for county clerk.”

Snyder, 61, of Shenandoah Junction, was first elected to the state Senate in 1996. He was re-elected in 2000, but failed to win a third consecutive four-year term in 2004, losing in the Democratic primary after a driving-under-the-influence charge in 2003.

Snyder returned in 2008 to win election and won again in 2012.

He represents the 16th Senate district, which includes all of Jefferson County and about the northeast portion of Berkeley County.

Snyder served on the Jefferson County Commission from 1991-97.

“This is not because of the loss of the Senate to Republicans, but it gets harder every year, and I’m one of the most nonpartisan legislators there,” he said. “There’s probably 12 different things that have gone into this decision. I’ve been considering this decision for two years. It’s what best for my family and myself. I hope the voters understand that.”

Snyder served as vice chairman and chairman of several Senate committees. Most recently, he was chairman of the influential Senate Government Organization Committee.

Enumerating some of his accomplishments, Snyder said the Chesapeake Bay bill was a huge benefit to the greater, eight-county Eastern Panhandle. The bill set aside $100 million of gambling revenues to help pay for upgrades to wastewater treatment plants mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce pollution getting into the Chesapeake Bay via its tributaries like the Potomac River.

“Berkeley County and Martinsburg were huge recipients of that money,” Snyder said. “Half of the funds, $50 million, went to Berkeley County and Martinsburg. And that was $50 million the rate payers don’t have to pay.”

Jennifer S. Maghan is the current Jefferson County Clerk. It is not clear if she will seek re-election next year. She could not be reached for comment Monday.

Patricia Puertas Rucker of Harpers Ferry has filed precandidacy papers to run for the 16th Senate district. A Republican, she ran for the 67th House of Delegates district last year, losing to incumbent Delegate Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, by a slim margin.

Skinner announced Monday that he will run for Snyder’s Senate seat in 2016.

“I’m in,” Skinner said Monday in a telephone interview. “I’d had conversations with (Snyder). I knew he was thinking about not running. That gave me the opportunity to think about it. When he made his final decision, I made mine.”

Skinner, 46, of Shepherdstown, is a partner in the Charles Town law firm of Skinner and Skinner. He was first elected to the House in 2012. The 67th district encompasses the northern third of Jefferson County. He has filed precandidacy papers, but did not declare an office.

“I like the collegiality of the Senate,” Skinner said. “There, you’re one of 34, rather than one of 100 in the House. I think I can have a much greater impact in the Senate.”

He looks forward to getting out and hearing from the people of Berkeley and Jefferson counties to hear what they want the future of West Virginia to be, he said.

“It’s going to be a hotly contested race,” Skinner said of the race for the 16th Senate seat. “There’s going to be lots of money spent on the race. There will be many, many hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on the race.”

– Staff writer John McVey can be reached at 304-263-3381, ext. 128.

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