There are sections of the state where the state code is superseded by local traditions. I have always given those laws titles that geographically apply to their location.
Thus we have the Dingess Tunnel Code that rules only in Mingo County.
The best thing about these superseding local laws is that they are unwritten and can be revised immediately as the circumstances dictate. In other words, what breaks the “law” today may be in total compliance tomorrow.
Mingo County has a county commission vacancy caused by the tragic death of Republican Gavin Smith. The state law first requires that the two remaining commissioners try to agree on a replacement within 30 days of the vacancy. In that regard, state law and the Dingess Tunnel Code agree.
Mingo’s two sitting commissioners — Democrat Diann Hannah and Republican Thomas Taylor– as expected could not agree. Hanna put forward the name of Ernest Sammons but got no second. Taylor had no suggested member.
Then the state code and the Dingess Tunnel Code agree that the county Republican Executive Committee has the authority to submit three possible replacements to the commission, which can choose from those nominees.
Here’s where the Dingess Tunnel Code slightly alters the system. While most normally intelligent people understand the state code to compel the committee to adhere to the requirement that these three people have to have been members of the same party for 60 days before the vacancy occurred, the Mingo Republican committee believes otherwise.
Incredibly (but not so much for Mingo County), the county Republican committee will apparently bend the rules and include Smith’s widow on the list.
The problem with that is Audrey Smith was still a registered independent on the day her husband passed. She switched to Republican afterward so she cannot possibly meet the 60 day requirement.
Picture this: you have a Republican county commissioner vacate his or her office for whatever reason. The two remaining commissioners, if they can agree on someone, must appoint a Republican who was a Republican 60 days before the vacancy occurred.
After 30 days’ of being unable to agree, the REPUBLICAN Executive Committee meets to provide three nominees to the commission. But the Republican committee is somehow not required to adhere to the party requirement and could name three DEMOCRATS if they wanted to.
How asinine is that? Why do they think it must be the REPUBLICAN Committee who provides the three names if they aren’t bound by the same rules to be Republican nominees? And why would the Republican committee not insist on naming three Republican possibilities anyway? That’s a slap to every Republican in the county.
All this Dingess Tunnel Code logic reaches a much higher level than I can comprehend.
But it is not beyond the grasp of new State GOP Executive Director John Findlay or perhaps Republican House of Delegates member Mark Dean.
I know from talking to Findlay and have been told by some who have talked to Dean that they think it makes sense to appoint a non-60-day Republican who they say is now “a Republican” because of her new registration. Under their interpretation ANYONE — Democrat, Libertarian, Mountain Party or Communist — can be suggested to replace the commissioner if the candidate just switched to Republican five minutes before being selected.
How any state GOP official could take that position blows the mind. I’ll just say we’ve discussed Findlay before. What swifties to be leading a party.
Can anybody say that Audrey Smith would have denounced her independent status and registered Republican if her husband was still alive? As I said earlier, she is likely a fine lady but her decision to change registration smacks of.opportunism.
Taylor snuffs his nose at the real law. He simply craves power at all costs. He thinks he can control Audrey Smith and put Hannah in a corner for a year.
I’m betting court action will come if Smith is chosen. But the Dingess Tunnel Code could prevail — especially if Mingo Circuit Judge Miki Thompson gets the case.
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By the way, the county GOP Committee will meet at 7 p.m., Thursday at the county courthouse in Williamson to select their nominees. Come out and maybe they’ll actually choose a Democrat to prove they can do it.
And another by the way. Checking with the Secretary of State’s office today, they list Vivian Ball, Misty Marcum, Loren Copley, Nathan Deskins, Justin Crawford and Dean as members of the Mingo GOP Committee.
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It’s politically silly for a legislator like Dean to be on a local political party executive committee. It can’t do anything but cost that member votes.