The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

August 11, 2012

Hunter to fill Raleigh County Democratic ballot spot

By Dawn A. Dayton
Managing Editor

— By Dawn A. Dayton

managing editor

Sherrie Hunter is the choice of the Raleigh County Democratic Executive Committee to fill the open spot for county commissioner on the November ballot, according to committee chair Paul Flanagan.

The opening came when John Wooton, who won the Democratic nomination in the May primary, pulled out on the advice of the State Bar.

The committee met Saturday morning and chose Hunter from among five people who submitted resumes for consideration.

Flanagan said the vote was unanimous, with 11 of the committee’s 12 members voting.

“Sherrie has long been involved with the promotion and beautification of Raleigh County. She is energetic and excited about the opportunity and is ready to take on the challenge,” Flanagan said.

“She has worked for the people of Raleigh County, and it is great to have a person like her.”

She will face Republican nominee Linda K. Epling in the Nov. 6 general election.

The four others who submitted resumes were S. Benita Goode, Mel Kessler, Michael Scott Mangum and Janet R. Warden.

Hunter said she is “proud and humbled” that the committee believes in her ability to serve as a county commissioner.

“I feel I have the network and experience to be effective to help make Raleigh County an even greater place than it already is,” Hunter said.

Hunter has been the director of education for the Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority for 12 years, working extensively with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, the West Virginia Solid Waste Authority and the West Virginia Solid Waste Management Board, among others.

“Being at the solid waste authority has prepared me to help out citizens on a bigger platform at the county commission,” she said.

She added that Raleigh County’s school recycling program is recognized by other counties as the most comprehensive in the state.

In addition to recycling, another major part of her job is going into schools and teaching the children about the ills of littering. She says one of the most successful ways of reducing litter is to teach the lesson early in life, then let the kids take the word home and teach it to their families.

She works closely with the New River Regional Development Authority in preparation for the 2013 Boy Scouts Jamboree.

She is the co-chair of the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce’s Make It Shine Committee and is president of the county’s Abandoned and Dilapidated Building Enforcement Agency, on which she has served since 2004.

“I always look at life in a positive fashion,” Hunter said. “When issues come forth, I believe you should listen closely, discuss it and do the right thing.

“My passion for the community goes very deep. The community has been kind to my family and I hope to give that back.”

Hunter is a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School and attended Beckley College. She was a teacher at the YMCA’s Happy Kids Pre-school before spending 10 years with Beckley Newspapers. She said it was at the paper where she was trained as a facilitator and those skills have helped her accomplish what she has.

Hunter is married to David Hunter, with whom she has two daughters, Lorie Martin of Shady Spring and Lesleigh Eckle of Columbus, Ohio, and three grandchildren. She is the daughter of the late Quinn and Eloise Barbera.

All that remains to make Hunter’s nomination official is for the executive committee to file a document with the Secretary of State’s office verifying that they have chosen her to fill the empty ballot spot. Hunter must also file for certification of candidacy in the Raleigh County Clerk’s office.

Wooton, a criminal defense lawyer, bowed out of the race after the State Bar suggested his service would pose a conflict.

After “someone raised an issue” about a potential conflict in his career and his potential role in setting the county prosecutor’s budget as a commissioner, Wooton sought opinions, initially from an ethics professor who found no problem in the dual capacity.

However, the State Bar issued an opinion saying that he cannot serve on the commission and take part in criminal defense work at his Beckley firm.

Wooton didn’t identify the individual who questioned his candidacy.

With more than 200 criminal cases pending at his firm, some of them appointed by the court, Wooton said it would be “a nightmare” for him to step aside and leave that large of a caseload to his fellow barristers. Nor would it be practical for the firm to abandon all criminal defense work.

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