Charles Saunders wants to ‘finish the job’ as Summers County Commissioner

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

Charles Saunders began serving as a Summers County Commissioner six years ago. His fellow commissioners elected him as president four years ago. While he’s happy with what they’ve been able to accomplish “as a team,” he wants to “finish the job” in a second term. 

“After going to meetings around the state, I feel like we have one of the better courthouses in the state,” Saunders says. “We try to work together for the good of the citizens.” Saunders credits his fellow commissioners, the prosecuting attorney, the sheriff, the county clerk, assessor, circuit clerk, and other local officials as being central to the county’s development. 

One of the things Saunders is most proud of is the county’s current financial health. “As of today, we have zero debt,” Saunders shares. “We owe no bank.”

Summers County was the second county in the state to participate in WV Checkbook, a project of the Auditor’s Office to provide transparency about government spending. State Auditor JB McCuskey attends their meetings regularly. 

“I think he likes to eat with us,” Saunders comments. “My wife cooks for all of our commission meetings. She has done that for five years for all of us. She always has a meal and a dessert. Anything that’s leftover we pass out to courthouse employees.”

Saunders says he spends about four days per week on average at the courthouse. “People think the job is one meeting per month, but it’s so much more than that,” he says. “I’m at the courthouse four days a week on average. We also try to be an active part of the community and events and meetings. I went to community dinners and events before I was in politics, and I still go.” 

In terms of specific projects, Saunders says the commission is focused on infrastructure projects–water, broadband, and buildings. But he confesses that he gets frustrated at times with the slow pace of progress. 

“Less than 40% of the county has public water,” he shares. “We’ve got all the funds committed for Broomstraw and Madams Creek. So much is left to the higher powers in the federal and state government, but at the same time we’re worked hard to get their support, and they’ve been good to us. We’ve got to get those projects done.” 

Why is it so important for him to complete these projects? “I made a promise,” he says, “and this is my home.” 

Charles Saunders was born in Hinton Hospital and raised a block away. He could see the school from his bedroom window. It’s where he’s gone to church, done business, and raised a family. 

He and his wife, Debra Shaffer Saunders, have three children–Christy, Chad, and Zach. They live on a farm in Jumping Branch, where they have 16 head of cattle. 

“Being a lifelong resident, I’ve always volunteered,” he says. “I was a baseball coach and basketball coach. I’ve always been active with the youth of the county. I’m a believer so I’ve always attended church in Summers County my whole life. That’s important to me and my family.”

Saunders believes that Summers County is “on the move,” and he wants that momentum to continue. 

“We just bought all our deputies body cameras,” he says, “and we’re also going digital with our radio network. We need to help our fire and EMS guys be able to get on that too.” 

Saunders is running for re-election as Summers County Commissioner. He has two opponents in the Republican Primary this May 14–Jeff Lyon and Tony Williams. Early voting is open now.

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