CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Mayor Danny Jones criticized the chairman of the Kanawha County Republican Executive Committee on Wednesday for rallying the group to campaign against an excess levy that would have raised millions of dollars for county schools and libraries.
The Kanawha GOP Executive Committee, headed by tea party conservative Fred Joseph, actively opposed the property tax increase. Voters handily defeated the levy Saturday. It was the first time the GOP Executive Committee took a stand against a county excess levy.
"Why use the name of the Republican Party for something other than the election of Republican candidates?" said Jones, a Republican who supported the levy. "What's the purpose? What are they doing?"
Jones said Joseph should have set up a separate, independent organization to oppose the levy, or campaigned against it on his own.
"Why use the Republican Party for this?" Jones said. "Why use a partisan mechanism for that? Was it just to claim they won something?"
More than 75 percent of Kanawha County voters rejected the proposed excess levy. Jones admitted the levy would have been defeated without the GOP Executive Committee's opposition.
Joseph said Wednesday the committee had a right -- and a duty -- to campaign against the levy.
"Our platform calls for no taxation without reasonable cause," he said. "We did have a reason to be involved. The mayor has the right to his opinion, but no right to run the Republican Executive Committee."
Before Saturday's election, the 57-member county Republican Executive Committee voted unanimously to campaign against the excess levy, Joseph said. The levy would have raised $24 million for schools and $3 million for libraries.
The GOP Executive Committee spent $900 for 250 "Vote No" signs, Joseph said. Committee members distributed the signs. They also held up signs at two Charleston locations -- along Corridor G and beside an Interstate 64/77 on-ramp -- just days before the election.