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Ron Gregory: Many mourn the death of Sally Richardson

October 21, 2017 GMT

She was a trailblazer for women, being the first female to chair the West Virginia State Democrat party in the late 1980s. A Huntington native, Sally Richardson passed away over the weekend in Charleston. She is survived by her husband and another great public servant, Don Richardson, two children and two grandchildren. She was 84.

After leading state Democrats from 1986 to ’88, she served in President Bill Clinton’s administration. Prior to that, she and her husband were identified with Democrat Governor - later U.S. Senator - Jay Rockefeller. After volunteering in Rockefeller’s losing 1972 gubernatorial campaign, she served as assistant commissioner of the Department of Welfare and as director of health under Rockefeller after he became governor in 1977.

When Democrat Gaston Caperton became governor, Richardson served as director of the Public Employees Insurance Agency. She also worked in the administrations of Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr. and President Jimmy Carter.

Although I have never been a Rockefeller fan, there is nothing but good things to say about Richardson. Thousands mourn her passing.

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The deadline for third quarter federal election financial reports passed this week. According to FEC records, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams leads the Democrat field in fundraising for Third District congress. Williams had raised nearly $50,000 in his bid to replace Rep. Evan Jenkins, who is running for U.S. Senate. Logan Democrat State Sen. Richard Ojeda had raised $11,372 as of the Sept. 30 deadline. At the end of the period, Williams had $42,200 left in the bank to $3,764 for Ojeda. No report appeared for Democrat Tri-State Transit Director Paul E. Davis.

Cabell Delegate Carol Miller outdistanced all congressional candidates in the Third. A Republican, Miller raised $136,793 and had $134,208 on hand. GOP state Delegate Rupie Phillips raised $28,456 and had $14,529 left.

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As proof positive that fringe Bernie Sanders-type candidates have financial appeal, Democrats Aaron Schienberg and Talley Sergent each raised more than $100,000 in congressional District Two. Mostly from small contributors, Schienberg received $163,095 while Sergent, a Huntington native, brought in $113,262. They were dwarfed by incumbent Republican Alex Mooney, who gathered $642,255. It is safe to say Mooney is not a Sanders-style politician.

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This has nothing to do with politics, but could anyone explain to me why Southern West Virginians just will not use the proper method of queuing at a Sheetz convenience store? The unique design of a Sheetz checkout counter contemplates two people advancing to each register. There is checkout space on BOTH sides of the registers. Yet, no two Southern West Virginians will ever tempt fate by walking to the counter side-by-side.

In northern regions, all seem to understand the concept. Service is faster. It works better. But alas, it will never function here because it just doesn’t make sense to anyone, apparently. I’ve been stared at as an interloper any time I walk to the open side of a register that is occupied on the other.

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It’s tough to decide which city council takes the prize for least public accountability: Richwood or Williamson. Both are embroiled in controversy. Richwood’s council majority wants to unseat the elected mayor regardless of state law and city charter requirements. Williamson has tried to oust its police chief three times, probably in violation of state law each time. Both are consistent in one thing: They want no public input and instruct their city police officers to command silence from citizens in attendance at meetings.

Amazingly, the Williamson city attorney apparently told his council that they could vote on terminating the chief in executive session. Then, a special meeting was held with one item on the agenda: terminating the chief. The mayor opened the meeting by calling for a motion and vote on hiring an “acting city attorney,” which was not on the agenda. When I asked, the “acting attorney” said he wouldn’t respond to questions.

Let’s hope most of the errors are just sincere folks who don’t understand the law. Otherwise, things are completely out of hand in both towns.

Ron Gregory is a former Glenville mayor, Kanawha County administrator and assistant mayor of Charleston who has covered state politics for more than 40 years. Reach him at 304-533-5185 or ronjgregory@gmail.com.