by Kate Shunney
Morgan County voters will decide district races, constitutional amendment questions and a Congressional race during voting next Tuesday, November 8.
Polls in the county’s 13 precincts will open at 6:30 a.m. and will close at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
With virtually no contested local races, county voters will look higher on the ballot to exercise their power of choice.
At the county level, voters will vote for a Morgan County Commissioner, County Clerk and Circuit Clerk.
Republican Bill Clark, who was appointed to the commission, is seeking election to his first full term of office. Clark has no opponents in the race.
Republican Melanie Shambaugh is seeking re-election to her post as Morgan County Circuit Clerk. She is also unopposed, as she was in the primary election.
Finally, County Clerk Kim Nickles is seeking her second term in county office. Nickles, a Republican, has no opponent in her race.
At the district level, Republican George Miller is seeking another term representing most of Morgan County and part of Berkeley County in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Miller is looking to grab the seat in the 90th delegate district, slightly reconfigured from the previous boundaries of the district.
Residents who live in the western portion of the county will be choosing a delegate for the 89th district, which includes part of Morgan County and part of Hampshire County. Republican Darren Thorne of Romney is being opposed in this race by Independent Robert Wolford of Points.
State Senator Charles Trump IV, a Republican, is running for re- election to his seat, representing the 15th senatorial district, which includes Morgan County. Trump was unopposed in the primary, but is now challenged by Robin Mills of Delray. Mills is running as a member of the Upwising party, which he helped found.
Morgan County voters will also choose their Congressional representative for the 2nd Congressional District. Republican Alex Mooney of Charles Town is seeking re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives. He is being challenged by Democrat Barry Wendell of Morgantown.
State voters are also being asked to weigh in on four amendments to the West Virginia constitution.
Amendment 1 is an amendment titled “Clarification of the Judiciary’s Role in Impeachment Proceedings.” Language in the three-paragraph amendment would make clear that West Virginia’s court system would have no role or jurisdiction to intervene in any impeachment proceedings of the House of Delegates or the State Senate, or to review any judgment coming out of those impeachment hearings.
It says impeachment “does not extend further than removal from office, and disqualification to hold any office of honor, trust or profit, under the state” and anyone on trial for impeachment would still be liable to legal indictment, trial and punishment. Therefore, the Supreme Court of Appeals should have no role in the impeachment process in the state, the amendment says.
Amendment 2: Tax authority
Amendment 2 is titled the “Property Tax Modernization Amendment” and proposes a shift of taxation authority for certain types of business and personal property tax from local bodies to the West Virginia Legislature.
The amendment would give the Legislature the ability to increase tax rates, exempt several categories of real and personal property from taxes, and graduate income taxes, then appropriate that tax revenue “as the Legislature may provide.”
Types of property that could be exempted from tax include: “property used for educational, literary, scientific, religious or charitable purposes, all cemeteries, public property, tangible machinery and equipment personal property directly used in business activity, tangible inventory personal property directly used in business activity, personal property tax on motor vehicles, the personal property, including livestock, employed exclusively in agriculture as above defined and the products of agri- culture as so defined while owned by the producers may by law be exempted from taxation; household goods to the value of two hundred dollars shall be exempted from taxation.”
Amendment 3: Church incorporation
Amendment 3 proposes the constitution be changed to allow for the incorporation of churches or religious denominations under state law, allowing for church property to be titled and transferred when used for religious purposes.
Legislative review of Education polices
Amendment 4 proposes to change the West Virginia constitution to say that the rules and policies of the State Board of Education are up for review, change or rejection by state lawmakers.
Language in the amendment says the Board of Education is vested with the duty to supervise the state’s free public schools.
The amendment proposes “the West Virginia Board of Education may promulgate rules or policies which shall be submitted to the Legislature for its re- view and approval, amendment, or rejection, in whole or in part, in the manner prescribed by general law.”
That amendment also specifies the makeup of the Board of Education as having nine members appointed by the governor with the consent of the State Senate, serving “overlapping terms” of nine years. The board can have only five members of the same political party and the Legislature may make rules other- wise dictating membership on the board, the amendment proposes.
A sample ballot, including a summary of each amendment, is published in this edition of The Morgan Messenger.
The full wording of each amendment can be read on the West Virginia Secretary of State’s website at govotewv.com.
Anyone with questions about their voter precinct or the election can contact the Morgan County Clerk’s office at 304-258-8547.