Mercer County Commission candidates speak on goals

PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – Two Mercer County Commission candidates are getting ready for the election.

This November, one of three Mercer County Commission seats will be up for reelection. Incumbent Greg Puckett won the republican primary for the seat in June earlier this year, but since then, independent Ronnie Oakley has been added to the ballot.

Puckett has been serving as County Commissioner since 2015, and in that time he says he has been a part of numerous projects to improve the county. 

“I’ve seen several projects coming in over a few million dollars in terms of infrastructure. We’ve been able to invest back into our park system. We’ve increased the budget of our sheriff’s office $500,000 a year from where we were just four years ago,” Puckett said.

Puckett’s issues he wants to focus on include tax diversification that would lower individual taxes on residents while bringing money in from other sources. As well, he wants to increase efforts to solve the addiction problem Mercer County faces. 

“I say it all the time, we don’t have a drug problem, we have an addiction problem. And when you have an addiction society, you’ve got to make sure that you work to lower the overall abuse rates. And we’ve got to make sure we have good recovery programs, as well as solid prevention programs, to keep kids from going into that lifestyle to begin with.”

Meanwhile, challenger Ronnie Oakley wants to focus on bringing in jobs. Originally from North Carolina, Oakley has only lived in Mercer County for about six years, but he says in that time frame he’s seen a lot of great things about the county, and wants to do his part to improve things further. 

“In North Carolina I was a firefighter, now retired. When we moved up here we had our internet and woodworking business. We fell in love with Mercer County and decided to make this our home,” Oakley said.

One key issue Oakley wants to focus on is clean water. Mercer County has been working on solving water issues in rural communities for some time now, but he says some communities are being left behind. 

“I’ve been to several places that have water problems. Matoaka was one of them, but we just recently got clean drinking water here. But there are places all over the county that are being ignored.”

Oakley also wants to focus on transparency and honesty in local government, which he says the County Commission has recently been lacking.

Mercer County Residents will be given the chance to cast their vote as early as October 21 when early voting begins statewide.