An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The contests for West Virginia’s state constitutional offices often do not grab the headlines, but each plays an important role in state government and voters will be making choices in five different races next month.
SECRETARY OF STATE: Natalie Tennant is seeking her third term for the office that oversees elections, business licensing and archives many vital state records, from agency rules and orders to a database of charitable organizations in the state. She is challenged by Republican Mac Warner of Morgantown and Libertarian John Buckley of Mathias.
Tennant has done a commendable job of improving access to records and information online and making it easier for businesses to get started in the state. She also added transparency features such as a database of freedom of information requests so citizens can see what public records are drawing interest. Tennant also has worked to make voter registration easier and get more people involved in the election process.
AUDITOR: The name Gainer has been associated for decades with the West Virginia Auditor’s Office, which does the state’s bookkeeping and transactions and reviews local government finances as well. Denzil Gainer was auditor from 1961-1972, and then his cousin Glen Gainer Jr. served from 1977-1993. His son Glen Gainer III has been auditor since 1993, until he resigned in May.
So, the 2016 auditor’s race is all about new faces.
Democrat Mary Ann Claytor worked for the office for 20 years as an auditor. Republican John “JB” McCuskey is a Charleston attorney and Kanawha County delegate, and Libertarian Brenton Ricketts of Jefferson County also is seeking the post.
We were most impressed with Mary Ann Claytor, who knows the office well and has done the work for years. She is an advocate of transparency to make sure the public can see how the state’s money is being spent, and she pledges to help lower costs and push for efficiency.
TREASURER: State Treasurer John Perdue is seeking his sixth term as state treasurer, who is the chief financial officer for the state and oversees the state’s operating funds and debt, as well as performing other financial services. His challengers are Republican Ann Urling, a Charleston banker with Summit Community Bank, and Libertarian Michael Young of Putnam County.
Perdue, a Democrat, has built a strong record, modernizing the office, aggressively promoting and returning unclaimed property to rightful owners, working to help West Virginia families save money for college through the state’s SMART529 plan and championing financial literacy in the state’s schools. We feel he will continue to do a good job.
AGRICULTURE: Democrat Walt Helmick is seeking a second term as West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture, an office charged with ensuring food safety and promoting state agriculture. He is opposed by Republican State Sen. Kent Leonhardt and Libertarian Buddy Guthrie, both of Monongalia County.
The state has great potential to grow its farming and livestock industry, and Helmick has taken concrete steps with farm-to-school and farm-to-table programs that help build the markets for farmers. His potato packing center in Huntington is another step in the right direction, and we feel Helmick is a solid candidate for re-election.