Greenbrier GOP hosts first ‘Meet the Candidates’ event of 2024 primary season

By Matthew Young, RealWV

RUPERT, W.Va. – “If you decide to come up here and trash your opponent, I’m going to ask everyone in this room to boo that person off the stage. We are not here for that, there is no place for that here, it is inappropriate, and it will not be tolerated.”

That’s what Greenbrier County Republican Executive Committee Chair Ben Anderson told those gathered at the Rupert Community Center on Thursday before the start of the first “Meet the Candidates” event of the 2024 primary season. 

The event featured candidates for both partisan and nonpartisan elections. Each candidate was allotted three minutes to address the audience. 

Greenbrier/Pocahontas County Circuit Judge – Nonpartisan

Judge Robert Richardson (incumbent – Division 1): “It’s been my honor for the last 10 years to serve as your Circuit Court Judge,” Richardson said. “I’m running for re-election, and I’m running on my record – I’m running on all we’ve accomplished in the last 10 years.”

Prior to his election, Richardson was a practicing attorney for 27 years in southeastern West Virginia.

“When I first became Judge in 2014, we had a huge backlog of cases,” Richardson noted, “Particularly in the Judicial Circuit Court where I was seated. […] I got to work clearing those cases – listening to the people and their attorneys, and understanding the situations.”

Ryan Blake (candidate – Division 1): “I first started in the practice of law as a judicial law clerk,” Blake said. “In that area, I was able to be involved in the courtroom almost daily, to have a collegial atmosphere with the other attorneys and judges, to conduct legal research, and draft judicial orders.”

Blake is a graduate of Greenbrier East High School, and earned his law degree at Penn State University. He has served as an Assistant Prosecutor in Greenbrier County since 2007.

“That experience provided me not only with the ability to learn what a judge does on a daily basis, and how a judge is supposed to act,” Blake added, “But it also provided me with a sense of respect and admiration for the role that a judge plays in both the system, as well as our society.”

Greenbrier/Monroe County Family Court Judge – Nonpartisan

Grady Ford (candidate): “I’m a Greenbrier County boy through-and-through, born and raised,” Ford said. “There are few things that any regular person is going to go through in the judicial system that is closer to your heart than the stuff that goes on in Family Court. […] In my time here practicing (law), I’ve been able to represent mothers and fathers – representing their interests.”

Ford practiced law in the city of Charleston for six years, before returning to his family’s practice in Greenbrier County in 2015.

“One of the great things about local elections is that if you don’t know who the candidates are, you can certainly ask around and talk to your friends and family,” Ford added.

Kelly Kemp (candidate): “I truly believe that I am the most qualified candidate for the job,” Kemp said. “For 28 years I worked as the attorney for the bureau for child support enforcement.”

Kemp has been a practicing attorney for 33 years, spending most of her career working in Family Court within the Greenbrier Valley.

“My time in the trenches has allowed me to gain knowledge and skills that are needed for this job,” Kemp noted. “I also think I have the temperament. A Family Court Judge must be a careful listener when listening to the testimony of the parties, and sometimes you have to figure out if people are telling the truth.”

Unopposed nonpartisan candidates

Greenbrier County Magistrate Court Judge:

  • Kim Johnson (incumbent)
  • Tim Stover (incumbent)
  • Kirby Hanson (incumbent)

Greenbrier County Circuit Court Judge (Division 2):

  • Patrick Via (candidate)

Greenbrier County Board of Education:

  • Mina Bostross (candidate)
  • Mary Jane Humphreys (incumbent)
  • Bobby McClintic (candidate)

Greenbrier County Conservation District Supervisor:

  • Gary Sawyers (incumbent)

Greenbrier County Sheriff – Partisan

Bart Baker (candidate): “I was born and raised in Ronceverte, and graduated from Greenbrier East in 1990,” Baker said. “Shortly after graduation I joined the United States AirForce.”

Baker served with the West Virginia Department of Corrections for several years, before joining the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department as a Deputy in 2002.

“While at the Sheriff’s Department, I’ve done everything you can do,” Baker noted. And I work closely with the Family Refuge Center as their Domestic Violence Resource Officer.”

Charles “Doug” Beard (candidate): “I’m a lifelong resident of Greenbrier County,” Beard said. “The Sheriff’s Department is different than other police agencies. They of course still have law enforcement duties, they bailiff courts, transfer adult and juvenile prisoners, [and] serve process both criminal and civil.”

Beard is a graduate of the West Virginia State Police Training Academy, as well as numerous additional trainings sponsored by the State Supreme Court of Appeals. 

“I have a combined 36-years experience in corrections, law enforcement, and as magistrate,” Beard added. 

Mark Robinson (candidate): “I’m running for Sheriff,” Robinson said, “And probably none of the other sheriff candidates can say that he’s been in jail multiple times. I ran for sheriff six years ago, and I was in jail on election day.”

Robinson is a resident of the Organ Cave area.

“But I’ve done nothing,” Robinson added. “Four times I’ve been put in jail all for nonsense. […] You can search high and low for something I’ve ever done. I was a preacher at White Sulphur Presbyterian.”

Greenbrier County Commission – Partisan

Tammy Tincher (incumbent): Tincher was unable to appear due to a funeral. Speaking on her behalf were Commissioners Lowell Rose and Blaine Phillips. 

“[Tincher] has served fairly since being elected, and educated herself on every aspect of county government,” Phillips said. “She currently serves as vice-chair of the Greenbrier Valley Airport Authority, [and] represents the commission on the 4 H extension board, the visitors center board, and the farmland protection board.”

“[Tincher] is not only the President of the Greenbrier County Commission, she is also the President of the State Association,” Rose added. “She is also on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Counties. […] She’s done more than any commissioner I’ve ever known.”

Robert Ford (candidate): “This is completely different from anything I’ve ever done,” Ford said. “I am not a politician. I grew up in Ansted, and my grandparents were from Dawson.”

After working for several years as a contractor, Ford trained in Raleigh County before accepting a position as Greenbrier County’s Building Code Official.

“I retired at the end of November,” Ford noted. “Right now I’m just listening to people and taking notes, and seeing what we need to do. I’d like to help the people of Greenbrier County, and be the conservative voice for the people.”

House of Delegates – Partisan

Jeff Campbell (incumbent – District 46): Campbell was unable to appear due to his participation in the current legislative session.

Trey Ewing (candidate – District 46): “I serve as the elected representative in the 10th Senatorial District for the State Republican Committee,” Ewing said. “I also serve on the Board of Directors for the Greenbrier Valley Pregnancy Center – that’s a new nonprofit that’s going to be operating.”

“I’m very pro-life, I’m pro 2nd Amendment, and I’m America first,” Ewing added. “The real thing that’s going to fix our country is Biblical values. That’s what I stand for. I believe I’m the most conservative choice.”

Thomas Perkins (candidate – District 46): “I’m running for juvenile justice reform,” Perkins said. “I was in the State’s custody as a child. I spent two years in the State’s custody, where I was more or less abused.”

“The problem that we’re dealing with here in West Virginia is the opioid epidemic,” Perkins noted. “They have pumped – the pharmaceutical industry – drugs into our state, poisoning everybody. […] The real crisis is inside the juvenile justice system, which is shielded by Hippa protection laws, and the juvenile justice system itself. The media is not allowed to talk about the juvenile justice system – they’re not allowed to talk about children. But our children are being poisoned by the pharmaceutical industry.”

George “Boogie” Ambler (candidate – District 47): “This is a homecoming for me,” Ambler said. “This is where, in 2012, I started my political career. Tonight is a rebirth after six years of being out of office. I went to Charleston in 2013 as part of the minority, and we became the majority. And we have moved West Virginia through policies that I helped institute when I was down there.”

“I have been credited with saying, ‘Do what you say and then do it,’” Ambler added. “That’s what my reputation in the House of Delegates was built on.[…] You the people, when you brought an issue to me, I did my best to take care of it for you. […] We are in a crisis mode in the 47th District. We’ve got to do something to bring some industry back in.”

Stephen Snyder (candidate – District 47): “Here’s the bottom line, I’m not a politician,” Snyder said. “Many times in my life I told somebody, ‘If I ever become a politician, just shoot me in the back of the head please.’”

“This is plain and simple – I have a brain and a spine, and I’m willing to use them both for the people of the 47th District and the people of West Virginia,” Snyder continued. “I will not sell my soul to the devil for special interests in the form of a political action committee, or special interest money that’s trying to affect West Virginia.”

Ray Canterbury (candidate – District 47): “It has been a while since I last served, but I think my record still speaks clearly of my position on certain very important issues,” Canterbury said. “For example, when I was a member of the State Legislature, I was a very strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment.”

“I also was a defender of the unborn,” Canterbury added. “I supported school choice and the right to homeschool your children, and I believe in the 1st Amendment. The left wing in this country believes in censorship. I think they would criminalize your opinion if they could, but I believe in your right to speak for yourself. I think you have to say what you mean, and mean what you say, and you should not be sanctioned for speaking the truth.”

Unopposed partisan candidates

Greenbrier County Prosecuting Attorney:

  • Nicole Graybeal (candidate)

Greenbrier County Assessor:

  • Joseph Darnell (incumbent)

Primary Election Day in West Virginia is Tuesday, May 14. Nonpartisan elections will be held on Primary Election Day as well. General Election Day is Tuesday, November 5.

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