All in all, the scandals gave both Teresa Maynard and Carter pause about volunteering to lead, they told the AP.
Maynard, 43, applied at 3:30 p.m. the day applications were due. She said she ultimately committed after contemplating the oath she swore in 2005, when she became assistant prosecutor.
"I've always done everything that I thought was appropriate to support the laws of the state," she said, "and I feel like that kind of creates an obligation for me to step up."
Maynard had a private practice and served as county attorney from 2001 to 2005. She grew up in Lenore and said she has no plans to leave. She lives near her childhood home with her husband and 9-year-old son.
"It's important to me that my son see that I'm trying to do what's right and make this a better place for him," she said.
Mingo County has just 26,000 residents and is shrinking steadily as the coal industry contracts. U.S. Census data show that more than 2,400 people have left since 2010. With high unemployment and chronic poverty, the social problems of child abuse and neglect, drug abuse and crime have grown rampant.
Maynard says their connections to the justice system require that she be visible and accessible, so she will take her office places it hasn't been before, including schools.
"We owe it to our kids to give them something better," she said.
Carter is a 61-year-old retired coal miner who has served three terms on the school board since 2002. Born in Iaeger, he grew up in Mingo and settled at Pigeon Creek.
He volunteered for years at Burch High School, worked three decades in the mines and even ran a fitness center. He knows so many people that he hesitated to seek the commission seat for fear of hurting someone's feelings.
But 14 people applied, "so that may be a good sign that the people of Mingo County are tired of what's going on," he said.
Carter said he won't be pushed around by any political faction.
"I'm not pushing any agenda. I'm not part of any team," he said. "If you're out for the betterment of Mingo County, why do you want to be divided?"
Nor does Carter see himself as a politician: Above all, he is a devout Christian who says he will answer to God for his behavior -- and nothing would make him jeopardize that.
"I'm praying for godly wisdom, that I'll make good decisions," he said. "My dad was gone at 63 of heart attack, and I don't know how much longer I've got. But I want to finish well."