Chad Conley asked the Wood County Board of Education to remove his application for the vacant seat left by former board member Debbie Hendershot after she stepped down Jan. 30 to run for Wood County magistrate. Conley, who is on the ballot for the May primary, said he didn’t want to give the impression he was impeding on the election. (Photo by Douglass Huxley)
PARKERSBURG – Former board member Rick Olcott has been named the interim board member for the Wood County Board of Education with a 3-1 vote.
Board member Sarah Townsend voted for Brian Stanley.
The board met in special session Monday to appoint someone to fill the vacancy left when Debbie Hendershot stepped down Jan. 30 to run for Wood County magistrate. Olcott will sit on the board until a special election is held in November.
“This was a very tough decision,” Board President Justin Raber said. “We had seven amazing applicants, and every applicant brought a different perspective. And I can’t thank you enough for coming forward and putting your name out.”
The board selected Olcott from the eight applications they received and after giving each candidate a 25-minute interview. Those who submitted an application included Jane Burdette, Randall Modesitt and Thomas Smith from District A; and Olcott, Mary Beth Shultz, Stanley, Chad Conley and Bradley Winans from District C.
Conley, who is on the ballot for the May primary, asked the board to remove his application for consideration before interviews began.
“I was pretty excited at the prospect of seeking the appointment to fill (Hendershot’s) position temporarily,” Conley told the board. “After I submitted my name for consideration, I did a little bit of thinking and I realized that there was also another person in District C running for a seat during the primary.
“… The citizens of Wood County should be able to participate in the fair and democratic election process to vote for anyone that is currently filed to run for the election during the primary in May. For this reason, I am withdrawing my name from consideration,” Conley said.
Although the board had 45 days to pick an interim member they stepped up the timeline as their choice could potentially impact the upcoming May 14 election.
By law, no more than two members can be seated from the same magisterial district, of which there are three – A, B and C – in Wood County. The board could not appoint an interim member from District B.
The candidates who filed for the ballot are:
* Ron Tice, District A
* Robert E. Mercer, District A
* Judy Johnson, District B
* Chad Conley, District C
* David A. Wilson, District C
Tice and Johnson are incumbents already serving on the board, while the remaining board members, Justin Raber and Sarah Townsend, are from Districts B and C, respectively.
Since the board appointed Olcott, who is from District C, candidates from that district running in the May primary can now no longer win a seat.
The wording on the ballot will now say, “vote no more than two: District A-2; Or District A-1 and District B-1; District C-0”. The deadline to withdraw from the ballot is 4:30 p.m. today, via a notarized request form submitted in person at the clerk’s office.
Olcott will be sworn in during the regular meeting of the Wood County Board of Education tonight in the Jackson Elementary Center auditorium at 6 p.m. The meeting is open to the public and will be streamed online.