The Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce informed voters in two of Ohio County's closest races this past election season by hosting debates for the offices of sheriff and county commissioner.
The events were held last October at West Liberty University, and broadcast through West Liberty's student television station, WLTV.
A panel consisting of Chamber President Terry Sterling; John McCabe, managing editor of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register; and local radio personality Howard Monroe quizzed candidates on the issues. Running for county commission were Democrat Orphy Klempa and Republican Patty Levenson, and running for sheriff were Republican Pat Butler Democrat and Tom Burgoyne. Klempa and Butler won the two seats.
Ohio County Commission candidate Orphy Klempa makes a point during a debate held last October at West Liberty University.
Photo by Joselyn King
In the past, the chamber has hosted political events with candidates for the West Virginia Legislature, but in 2012 the organization decided a different focus was needed, according to Sterling.
Former Speaker of the House "Tip O'Neill once said, 'All elections are local' - and that's very true," Sterling said. "We have some very important local races that will have a significant impact on our community for many years. That's why we want to get involved and provide information."
He added the chamber's goal is to help voters make an informed decision in the election, "and over the years we've become good at conducting these debates and forums."