The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 9, 2012

Raleigh County Commission

Lone Democrat willing to work with GOP majority

By Mannix Porterfield
Register-Herald Reporter

— For the first time in modern history, Republicans hold the upper hand on the three-member Raleigh County Commission, but the lone Democrat says she is willing to work with them provided progress is the goal in mind.

“I plan to work as I always have for the best interest of the citizens of Raleigh County,” Pat Reed said Thursday.

A self-described conservative Democrat, the former member of the House of Delegates said she won’t alter her ideology of keeping a tight rein on the purse strings while working toward public projects.

“My goal is for the commission to be pro-active, and I think that’s what we have done the last two years of my service,” she said.

The political makeup of the commission changed dramatically in Tuesday’s balloting when Linda K. Epling handily won the seat being vacated by two-term Commission President John Aliff by beating Sherrie Hunter.

Even though Democrats no longer hold the majority, Reed said she wants to avoid any partisan gridlock or bickering.

“I want us to work together as a team, and I will do that, as long as they’re doing what’s right,” she said.

Besides Reed and the incoming Epling, the other commissioner is Republican Dave Tolliver, who beat former commissioner John Humphrey two years ago. Humphrey is now the county administrator.

“I feel that’s what we’re here for, to help Raleigh County,” Reed said.

“As long as what’s being done is for the betterment of Raleigh County, I definitely will be right there.”

Reed ran through a litany of accomplishments in which she had a hand, starting with the abandoned building program that removes the eyesores of rotting structures.

“That was my idea, and with the support of the other two commissioners, it’s been very successful,” she said.

“We now have our own equipment and operators, and have got rid of a lot of old buildings and houses that would never had been taken care of had we not done it.”

Reed pointed to progress in extending water and sewer service to pockets of the county, such as Lanark, Piney View and Clear Creek, along with some smaller additions, and the pending Bragg-Pluto project for which a design study has been financed.

The Democratic commissioner said she was instrumental in getting the new judicial annex built to assure safety for the staff and general public.

“With us being so careful with money, what we owe on that is very minimal,” Reed said.

Another plus Reed mentioned was the addition of Burning Rock, the all-terrain vehicle complex that marked a tourism first entailing a public-private effort.

“Today, we have thousands of tourists coming to Burning Rock from everywhere and it gives our people safe trails to ride their ATVs on,” she said.

“It’s been recognized nationally on television and that highlighted Raleigh County. It’s a definite plus.”

Given her experience as a state legislator, Reed said she helped acquire funding from the current and past administrations to facilitate a number of projects.

“Let’s continue to be pro-active and continue to move Raleigh County forward,” she said.

“That’s what a good commission does as well as see a positive surplus at the end of each year, and we have done that. “

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com