There are few local contested races in The Inter-Mountain's coverage area, especially in Randolph County. However, that doesn't mean the general election lacks relevance, despite the limited slate of those facing opposition.
In fact, there are two races of great importance in Randolph County. That's why we've chosen to weigh in, during Endorsement Week, on bids for the Randolph County Commission seat and the sheriff's office. Today we will focus on the commission. Wednesday's editorial will highlight the sheriff's race.
With regard to the commission, incumbent Democrat Mike Taylor faces Republican challenger Mike House. In this contest, it would be hard not to acknowledge the benefit of Taylor's experience and the positive working relationship he has built with fellow commissioners Chris See and Joyce Johns.
First elected to a six-year term in 2006, Taylor quickly made a positive impact in the commission. He became commission president four years ago and is seen by many as the public voice of county government. He has distinguished himself in that role, advocating for open, honest communication with both constituents and the media.
In 2010, Taylor was awarded the County Commissioners' Association of West Virginia's Rising Star honor by his peers through his membership with that commission. Taylor also is a member of the West Virginia Association of Counties.
Most recently, he received a gubernatorial appointment to the state Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways. In his announcement, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin indicated "the group is tasked with studying the condition and needs of the state's transportation system and developing a long-term strategic plan of action. The plan will include funding options for the maintenance, construction and expansion of the state's roadway system."
Clearly it is important for Randolph County to have a voice in such future infrastructure. Taylor, through his appointment, not only will represent the interests of county commissions throughout the state, but also our county.
By using his time in office wisely to build key connections on the state and federal level for this area's benefit, Taylor has proven to be a good steward of public office. He also is fair, remembering Randolph County encompasses more than just Elkins. He's been an advocate for the more rural parts of the county, including his work to help fund libraries in Helvetia, Valley Head and Harman among others.
He also has been a champion of fiscal responsibility. With regard to the latter, the recent announcement about the $3.1 million Wees Annex payoff was good news for taxpayers. The county commission paid off the building's 20-year mortgage in only three years, saving more than $1.7 million in interest. That money can be utilized elsewhere, and all the sitting commissioners are to be commended.
In addition to fiscal prudence, Taylor and the commission have taken the lead with regard to the accountability of public officials. This was evidenced by the way the commission investigated concerns about Richard Busch, the county's former prosecuting attorney.
This commission isn't afraid to tackle tough issues, and Taylor is an integral part of that equation. It would not be as effective without him. Not only has Taylor been there as loyal, hardworking public servant, he's done so outside of election season - and when no one's keeping score. Whether it is attending a POW/MIA event to honor veterans or aiding a community project, the same genuine Mike Taylor is there in full support.
We hope voters will be there to support him on Election Day.