POINT PLEASANT — Five candidates for sheriff will be reduced to two after the May 10 primary, with voters deciding which democrat and which republican will face off in the general election.
Incumbent Sheriff Greg Powers, D-Point Pleasant, will be facing off with democratic challengers, Marc Kearns, D-Letart and Jesse Raike, D-Gallipolis Ferry. On the GOP ticket, voters will be choosing between Joe Frank, R-Leon and Curtis “Curt” McConihay, R-Point Pleasant.
The Point Pleasant Register requested biographical information from those running and asked each candidate to answer the question, “Why I decided to run for this office?” All candidates were personally contacted for information and the following are the responses from those who participated, starting with democrats and listing each candidate in alphabetical order.
Marc Kearns resides in Letart with wife Marilyn, he’s the son of the late Gene and Emma J. Kearns, his sisters are Tara See and Jill Martin. He’s currently employed as maintenance supervisor with Ohio Valley Electric Corporation, Kyger Creek Plant and is a 1973 graduate of PPHS, graduate of Marshall University with a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree. He’s a former dispatcher and deputy sheriff, former Point Pleasant city patrolman, former member and chief of the Point Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department and a graduate of the Basic Police Training Class at the West Virginia State Police Academy.
Kearns said: “I am seeking the office of Mason County Sheriff to form a partnership with our citizens, community leaders, schools, churches, and communities to provide a safe, secure and peaceful environment. Community involvement is the key to a safer community. The drug epidemic facing our county is important which leads to other problems and every available resource must be utilized including grants, physical deterrents, rehabilitation and educational programs to help alleviate the problem. I will continue to support the DARE and PRO programs in our schools and seek and apply for outside funding to assist with additional needs. Every agency must work together to create a greater outcome. I pledge to provide leadership and develop a staff that relates to the needs and issues our county is experiencing, provide more rural patrols, manage the budget, dedicate myself to the job at hand and uphold the law and respect the people.”
Greg Powers has served as the current Mason County Sheriff since January 2013, with 34 years of law enforcement experience, 23 years budget management experience, 23 years supervisory experience, 20 years safety and security experience, and 14 years Homeland Security management. In 2015, his office made 82 drug arrests, answered 6,514 911 calls and obtained over $200,000 in grants. His department was recognized with various awards for making Mason County roadways safer including the Agency of the Year Award for Impaired Driving Enforcement. Powers said, as a result county traffic fatalities decreased 62 percent from 2014 to 2015. Powers is endorsed by the Mason County Deputy Sheriff’s Association.
Powers said: “I have decided to seek a second term as your sheriff because even though a lot has been accomplished in the past 3 ½ years, there is still work to be done. The image and performance of the sheriff’s office has drastically improved under my leadership. State, county and local agencies in Mason County are working together for the first time in many years. Both the employees of the sheriff’s office and the community deserve this type of professionalism and integrity. I plan to continue our focus on curbing the drug epidemic through my affiliations with the Mason County Prevention Coalition, the Loved Ones Group, and The Meeting Place. In addition, our continued investigations and task force involvements are yielding consequences for dealers and their associates. I have shown effective leadership can make positive changes for Mason County. Working together we can continue to move forward.”
Joe Frank attended Cleveland School of the Arts, finishing his education in 1988 with a GED. He then entered the workforce and at age 16, worked in construction concrete finishing management for US Recycling four years, was with JTM industries as a heavy equipment operator and currently has 19 years at Leslie Equipment Company where he is a technician welder fabricator with diagnostic troubleshooting. He’s served on the Leon Fire Department for 18 years, currently vice-president, treasurer and safety officer. He has training experience and multiple certificates in emergency management from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, as well as from National Fire Academy in emergency response to terrorism.
Frank said: “I am a 20-year resident of Mason County. I have served the east end of the county for 18 years on the fire department, now I want to serve the entire county and being sheriff will give me the opportunity. I believe I can make a difference. I will have more time to apply myself to the job to tackle the sheriff’s duties to keep the drug dealers out and most importantly, to protect the citizens of Mason County simply because I am for the people not the politics.”
Curtis “Curt” McConihay is a retired deputy sheriff with 23 years of law enforcement experience. He maintains a fourth generation small family farming operation and is a local businessman in Point Pleasant, starting out as a private investigator/bail bond agent. He joined in a partnership with others to improve rental property and maintain businesses on Main Street. He has degrees in business administration and accounting from Southeast Business College along with many courses and training at law enforcement duties. He says he’s spent his life serving the community and more recently working on building the community stronger. Activities include working with 4-H, FFA, and the Mason County Fair.
When asked why he was running for sheriff, McConihay provided a mission statement and goals. He said goals would include curbing the ongoing threat to the community presented through the epidemic of heroin use; rebuilding and strengthening the Prevention Resource Officer Program and D.A.R.E.; establishing a community based sheriff’s department. He said: “The sheriff’s office mission should provide the highest level of professionalism while preventing crime through problem-solving partnerships throughout the county. To implement community meetings to identify areas of concern and facilitate a strategy that’s effective.” He said his vision is: “A safer county, a county where respect is given regardless of the situation. A county of equal treatment. A department that embraces quality policing, committed to development of a strategy to prevent crime. A department that resolves safety issues, provides service to the community, which in turn enhances the quality of life within our county.”
Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.