County prepares for 2014 elections

NEW CUMBERLAND – With filing deadlines looming, Hancock County officeholders and challengers are starting to announce their candidacy for the 2014 elections.

Hancock County Commissioner Dan Greathouse said he will seek a fourth term and run for re-election this year.

“There’s a lot of work yet to do,” said Greathouse, who recently was named commission president by fellow Commissioners Jeff Davis and Mike Swartzmiller.

First elected in 1996, Greathouse is nearing the end of his third six-year term. So far, he has no challengers.

Weirton geologist Mark Zatezalo announced that he is running as a Republican candidate for delegate of District 1, which incorporates all of Hancock County and part of Brooke County.

Zatezalo is seeking one of the West Virginia House of Delegates seats currently held by incumbent Delegates Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, and Ronnie D. Jones, D-Hancock, who both have filed as candidates.

The West Virginia primary election is May 13, and voters will elect two District 1 delegates in the Nov. 4 general election.

Also this year, June 10 municipal elections will be held for the Chester mayor’s office, all five Chester City Council seats and the city clerk’s office.

In addition to the county commission, Hancock County races in 2014 include three school board seats and the county clerk. The latter office is currently held by George Foley, whom commissioners appointed to fill the vacancy left by the August retirement of longtime County Clerk Eleanor Straight.

In order to finish Straight’s unexpired six-year term, Foley must run for election this year.

Greathouse, 62, of Weirton, touted his record of funding county projects with money saved from limited video lottery proceeds. Since 2002, he said, county commissioners have distributed $7.6 million in video lottery revenue to Hancock County’s three cities-Chester ($1.5 million), New Cumberland ($1.2 million) and Weirton ($4.9 million).

The county commission has funded $14 million in water and sewerage projects throughout the county, he said.

Greathouse also noted his involvement in a series of capital improvement projects totalling $7 million, including plans for a new 911 Dispatch/Office of Emergency Management building, a new home for the Hancock County Health Department, a new Hancock County Magistrate Court building and a new secure entrance for the Hancock County Courthouse.

“All of these projects … will be paid for by money saved by the county commission – not by raising taxes or borrowing money,” Greathouse said.

A 1969 graduate of Oak Glen High School, Greathouse earned a business degree from West Liberty University and worked as a manager of logistics at Weirton Steel. He currently is executive director of the Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Delegate candidate Zatezalo, 62, of Weirton, graduated from Weir High School in 1970 and has a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University and a master’s degree from the University of Missouri.

With more than 35 years’ experience in the field of hydrogeology, Zatezalo works for an engineering consulting firm and is chairman of the Weirton Redevelopment Authority. He also is on the board of the nonprofit Clean Streams Foundation.

Other West Virginia races of note is the one to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by longtime Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, and the re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. David McKinely, R-Wheeling, whose 1st District includes Hancock County.

Among the Republican candidates for Rockefeller’s Senate seat is Chester resident and former Delegate Pat McGeehan. U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-Charleston, is considered the Republican frontrunner.