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Tuesday’s election big for Mingo County

By Kate White, Staff writer

After four county officials pleaded guilty to federal charges in the past year, and the county’s sheriff was shot to death in April 2013, Mingo County residents got a chance to make a change during Tuesday’s primary election.

Mingo residents elected a new circuit judge, county commissioner, prosecuting attorney and magistrate. They also were to elect a new sheriff to fill the remainder of Eugene Crum’s term. Crum was shot to death while sitting in his cruiser in downtown Williamson.

Circuit judge Michael Thornsbury, who served as judge 16 years, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to deprive the constitutional rights of a man he sentenced on drug charges. Prosecuting attorney Michael Sparks pleaded guilty to depriving the same man, George White, of his constitutional rights, a misdemeanor. He’s scheduled to be sentenced next month.

If a federal judge approves Thornsbury’s plea deal with prosecutors when he’s sentenced June 9, accusations that he violated the rights of his former secretary’s husband by landing him in jail on trumped up charges will be dropped.

Commissioner David Baisden was sentenced to 20 months in prison earlier this year after pleading guilty to a federal extortion charge. A judge, however, has told Baisden he doesn’t have to report to jail until June 13, because he’s battling prostate cancer. Baisden was first elected commissioner in 2009.

Magistrate Dallas Toler pleaded guilty to one count of voter registration fraud and was sentenced to 27 months in prison. Toler pleaded guilty after he admitted he registered a felon to vote. His bond was later revoked before he was sentenced on allegations that he tried to sell cocaine.

The county is also electing three new school board members, as accusations have surfaced that officials at a middle school covered up alleged sexual abuse.

The general election isn’t until November, but Democrats rule local politics in Mingo County, and no Republicans filed to run for county positions.

Miki Thompson is the county’s new circuit judge, beating Jonathan “Duke” Jewell by about 700 votes with all of Mingo’s 39 precincts reporting. Thompson received 2,409 votes; Jewell, 1,707; Robert H. Carlton received 1,393 votes; and Teresa McCune, 675.

Jewell and McCune, both public defenders in Mingo, were recommended by the state’s judicial vacancy commission to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for appointment to the position in December. Tomblin, however, never chose an appointment.

Thompson has served as the county’s family court judge since 2009.

Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith won by 77 votes against Lonnie Hannah, a former Mingo sheriff.

Smith has served on the commission nearly 20 years.

Hannah had 3,013 votes to Smith’s 3,090.

Mingo Clerk “Big” Jim Hatfield defeated his two opponents to fill Baisden’s unexpired term.

Hatfield had 2,669 votes compared to Mike Hie Carter with 2,312 and David Justice, 1,009.

Hannah ran for commissioner against Baisden in the 2012 primary election.

In 2008, a three-judge panel ruled misconduct allegations against Hannah had no merit and rejected a petition seeking Hannah’s removal from office.

The petition filed in 2007 accused Hannah of illegally obtaining subpoenas to invade former County Commissioner Halcy Hatfield’s privacy. Hannah sought the subpoenas for Hatfield’s financial records during an investigation of how federal flood recovery money was spent following flooding in 2004.

Teresa Maynard defeated Charles “Butch” West and Wes White to become the next Mingo prosecuting attorney.

Maynard received 2,755 votes compared to West with 2,573. White received 681 votes.

Maynard will fill the rest of Michael Sparks’ term as prosecuting attorney.

County commissioners Smith and John Mark Hubbard previously appointed Maynard, an assistant in Sparks’ office, until the election. West, the attorney for the man whose constitutional rights were violated, is a former Williamson mayor and Mingo school board member.

James Smith easily defeated Roy Tiller with 81 percent of the vote to fill the remainder of Crum’s term as sheriff. Smith, who received 4,837 votes, has been serving as sheriff since last September. He was appointed after Crum’s wife, Rosie, resigned. Rosie Crum was appointed sheriff in the days following her husband’s death. Tiller received 1,049 votes.

Smith narrowly lost to Eugene Crum in the 2012 primary election.

Jim Harvey broke away with 31 percent of votes from the four others running for magistrate to fill the unexpired term of Dallas Toler. Harvey had 1,859 votes with all precincts reporting.

Scott Smith, 1,434, Grady Colin Kelley II, 377, Thomas Taylor, 1,448 and Michele Webb,789, also ran for the position.

Three seats on the county school board were up for grabs. Mark Colegrove, of Delbarton, got 2,295 votes, June Mitchell, of Glover, got 2,410, and Jacqueline Branch, of Williamson, got 1,802.

Last week, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey asked for a civil rights injunction against the board of education, the county schools superintendent and administrators at Burch Middle School for allegedly failing to investigate allegations of sexual abuse and then retaliating against the two girls who reported the alleged abuse.

Incumbent Robert “Robbie” Adams Jr., of Delbarton, Josh Davis, of Naughtuck, Gary W. Davis Sr., of Williamson, and Hester Keatley, of Delbarton, also ran.

Keatley, Burch Middle School’s guidance counselor, is specifically named in Morrisey’s filing.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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