Question #8: This is open-ended. Please feel free to bring up other issues, or make statements pertaining to your candidacy, your background and experience, your interests, and your goals.

Gandee, Debra Jo Galford

My name is Jo Debra Galford Gandee and I am a candidate for Pocahontas County Commission Central District. 

I am the daughter of Wallace and Pauline Galford of Linwood, wife of 24 years to David Gandee, mother of Rachel Fanning and Jason Long, and grandmother of Zara and Ayla Fanning.  I graduated form Marlinton High School in 1970 and from WVU in 1974 with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts.  I have worked as a waitress, phone operator, reservation manager, teacher, financial manger, and restaurant manager.  I am now retired but I have operated numerous businesses in the county; Big Spring Exxon, Market at Big Spring, Shaky Jake’s Bar and Grill, the Rabbit Hole, Imagination Springs LLC, and the Linwood Emporium; for the last 20 years.  I have served on numerous boards, committees, and county organizations and presently am the co-president of the Pocahontas County Farmers Market and Chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee.

During the last six years, there has been a decline in employment in our county and I will work to see that change.  There are many grants available for county governments that could improve our present situation.  I am computer literate, internet savvy, and am currently taking classes on grant writing.  I would love to see a cannery, a meat processing plant, and/or a call center in our county.  I would work on our infrastructure, our high speed internet capabilities, and our use of county owned land and properties.  The possibilities of making Watoga State Park a conference center with updated lodging, attracting micro breweries, and enlarging our farm to table agriculture could increase tourism and better jobs.  I will work closely with all state and federal agencies to find better ways to move forward.

Drug use is not just a county problem but also a nationwide problem that affects us all in numerous ways and leads to discouragement and disappointment.  We must work with our law enforcement to find workable solutions.  Unemployment adds to the feeling of hopelessness that many people are experiencing.  We, as a county, have to improve our job market to give back a feeling of pride and accomplishment to our citizens.  We need full time, year round employment that provides a living wage and benefits.  I would be honored to work with our county commissioners to bring our citizens better jobs while respecting the values of our families and our way of life. 

We are blessed with natural beauty and abundant natural resources.  We have an excellent hospital and many wonderful clinics.  We offer hunting, fishing, biking, skiing, golfing, hiking, and canoeing.  We have an abundance of forests, rivers, and streams that we must continue to manage and protect.  We have excellent teachers, farmers, and highly experienced business people.  We have the best mountain musicians, creative artists and crafters, and unique cultural activities.  We must build on all the good that this county possesses and work with each other on our common goals.

I hope to earn your support and your vote, and if elected will work full time for our county.  I would not take the responsibility lightly and I believe in accountability and honesty.  I can be contacted at or by phone: 304-572-4645.

Groseclose, Jesse A.

  1. I may not have all the answers; however, I will take this job seriously, as I have all my endeavors. I will serve this county with honor and respect. I welcome informed advice and ideas and hope to work together, with mutual respect, to improve our county and protect our valuable assets. I value my reputation as a hard worker and provider as well as an entrepreneur. We need to help our citizens rediscover that entrepreneurial spirit and support them. We need to train our youth to become responsible service providers and professionals and retain that youth.  We need to retake our county from the grasp of drugs and we need to protect our citizens and resources. After all, these values and resources are why I call Pocahontas County my home alongside my wife of 16 years. It is why we have invested in our county and we are active on various boards and clubs. As your commissioner, I pray I will make the “right” choices but unfortunately, what is right to some may not be to others. You will find that I am an open-minded, patient person that thinks thoroughly on the issues. As your commissioner, I am ready to act on your behalf.

Jamie Walker

Mr. Walker did not respond to Eight Rivers Council by the deadline.

Wilfong, Ben

As a County Commissioner, I will be a voice for children, veterans, seniors, businesses, and all families in all the forms they take in addition to the shared values that bind us to each other in Pocahontas County.

Every child in Pocahontas County should have an equal opportunity to thrive. Every person and family here should be treated with respect and dignity. Every person deserves equal opportunity to the conditions that create stability and meaning in our life, a job that pays a living wage, a sheltering home, a neighborhood you can walk in and contribute to, a safety net in times of need, reliable high speed internet services, fully funded senior programs, and Public Library systems that don't have to worry what's being cut nest.. As a community, this is what we aspire to. It’s what we’re capable of.

I’ve served on numerous local and state boards representing the citizens of this great State and County. I have served as president of the Pocahontas Producers CO-OP Inc. Board of Directors, Southern States Cooperative Board of Directors and the Pocahontas County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.

I currently serve Pocahontas County as the Vice-President and a small business representative on the Pocahontas County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Additionally, I am the Chairman and Director of the Autumn Harvest Festival and West Virginia Road Kill Cook Off.  I also, serve as a Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Director where I chair the Education Committee and serve on the Government and Grants Committees respectively.  I know what leadership is and what it truly entails.

I want Pocahontas County to have strong, accessible, and effective representation in local and state government as this will better position us to aggressively address the critical issues that plague our county. I want to help build an environmentally sustainable and economically vibrant community where everyone can afford to live, work, and play.  Every citizen of our county should be able to raise a family, support their family, and enjoy the wonderful natural resources our county has to offer without fear for the future of Pocahontas County.  We are, after all, a community with a vested interest in future of Pocahontas County.

My demonstrated proactive leadership skills and qualifications are immense and provide a concrete foundation for progress, something our county desperately needs.  I want to be a working Commissioner and develop close relationships with my community and between all local government agencies; the end result being a community-oriented approach that will keep you and your family values and voice at the forefront of every issue impacting Pocahontas County.

Meeting these challenges will require smart, innovative, energetic approaches that protect and enhance the quality of life of current residents of Pocahontas County. At the same time, we must lay the groundwork for expanded opportunity for future generations.  TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERNECE.

Please feel free to contact me by email, (304) 799-4508, visit my website at or keep up with my Facebook Page

Thank You All for taking the time to review my qualifications and willingness to represent you the people.  I sincerely ask for your support and vote as your next County Commissioner of Pocahontas County.

Ben Wilfong