By Mannix Porterfield
Politics and breakfast come together on Oct. 16 for the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce.
As it has done faithfully in the past, the Chamber is giving its members in the business community an opportunity to hear what candidates for offices in Charleston and Washington have to say about themselves and issues.
Unlike past gatherings, there will be no give-and-take in the 90-minute format at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
“We just have too many candidates to try to have a media panel, which we’ve always done in the past,” Chamber President Ellen Taylor explained.
“Some will get a question, and others will just get some time to speak.”
Those seeking national offices, such as the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, along with the gubernatorial hopefuls, are being allotted 5 minutes to explain their candidacies.
Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, and Rick Snuffer, a Republican seeking the 3rd District seat in Congress, have indicated they plan to take part, but there is no confirmation yet from either Manchin’s rival, John Raese, or Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall.
“Rahall has a conflict, but if it works out, he said he would try to be there,” Taylor said.
Candidates for the West Virginia Supreme Court and those seeking posts on the Board of Public Works — that is, attorney general, treasurer, auditor and so on — may speak for 3 minutes.
Anyone running for either the state Senate or House of Delegates will get 90 seconds.
“They will get a minute and a half to respond to a question that we have already given them,” Taylor said.
A similar time frame will be set aside for the two women seeking to succeed retiring Raleigh County Commissioner John Aliff — Democrat Sherrie Hunter and Republican Linda Epling.
Candidates for prosecuting attorney and magistrate will not be part of the program, due to time constraints, Taylor explained.
A continental breakfast is set for 7 a.m., half an hour in advance of the live radio airing of the event.
“We encourage candidates to come early to shake hands and talk to people,” Taylor said.
“This gives them time to get acquainted. People start coming in usually about 15 minutes to 7. They can come early and put their materials out.”
Taylor said the election-year format serves a useful purpose for the businesses that make up the chamber.
“There are a lot of candidates you may never have met and you know nothing about them,” she said.
“You don’t have an opportunity to talk to them because you just don’t run into these people in your everyday life. It gives us an opportunity to expose business people to those candidates. So, hopefully, when they go out to vote they make good choices, because there’s information about that person, either their philosophy, how they feel, how the think.”
As he has done in the past, Jay Quesenberry will be handling the live feed for radio station WWNR of Beckley.
“Jay does a very good job,” Taylor said. “He has kind of inherited that job.”
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