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Slate filling up for Scott County election

CLIFFORD JEFFERY • Feb 11, 2007 at 10:57 AM

GATE CITY - With the general election nine and a half months away, a dozen people have filed to run for local positions in Scott County.

A number of them have already started placing ads in local newspapers. Those who have started campaigning will have to file a financial report by April 16, said Scott County General Registrar Willie Mae Kilgore.

Among positions up for election in Scott County on Nov. 6 are the constitutional posts: commissioner of revenue, sheriff, treasurer, commonwealth's attorney and circuit court clerk.

• Mark Bo Taylor (R) of Yuma is seeking his second eight-year term as Scott County circuit court clerk.

Overseeing one part-time and three full-time employees, Taylor said there are more than 800 things he's responsible for doing every day.

"Those include record keeping like land transactions, jury management - both petit and grand juries - criminal and civil court cases including appeals from general district court," he said.

Taylor is the keeper of election ballots, and preservation of county historic documents is a task he feels is important.

"A lot of preservation grants have been done through the Library of Virginia. I have preserved our marriage (licenses) from 1815 to 1912. Those are the oldest marriage records."

Through the Library of Virginia, Taylor was involved in a pilot program in which records were indexed and digitally scanned.

Those records are part of the county database. They are also kept on microfilm, and the original papers are stored safely in the Library of Virginia in Richmond.

Taylor is proud of the automation of the circuit court office along with computer links to the Division of Child Support, Virginia State Police and Department of Motor Vehicles. Taylor oversaw those innovations, which have helped his staff run a smoother operation.

Taylor has a background in law enforcement. He worked 12 years, first as a deputy, then a DARE officer.

Taylor is so far uncontested.

• Kevin Helms (R) of Gate City is a newcomer running for county treasurer. He is uncontested.

Helms is a legal assistant at Carrico and Jenkins Law Office in Gate City. He's been involved with the Republican Party since 1994 shortly after finishing college at Virginia Tech.

Helms said he loves Scott County and he wants to serve the public.

Helms is already somewhat familiar with the operations in the treasurer's office. He has some ideas that, if implemented, he believes would give the staff more time to spend with the people who come to the office.

"I want to bring in more technology to try and give the staff more time to work with the public," Helms said.

He expects others to run for the office, but he is ready for the fight.

Helms is currently a student at Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary, seeking a master's degree in arts in religion. As a youth pastor at Springdale Missionary Baptist Church in Kingsport, Helms said it has been a personal goal to get a theological degree.

In the election, Helms said his first goal is the GOP nomination.

• Gary Baker (R) took office as the Scott County commissioner of revenue on Jan. 1, 2004.

"In the past three years, I've managed to run this office without an increase in budget. Actually, the budget for the commissioner's office has been decreased in that the Board of Supervisors would not approve the money requested for a part-time employee. That's quite an accomplishment to keep a commissioner of the revenue office going full speed with a staff of three - that includes me - when the surrounding commissioners have less population than Scott County and have many as six to 10 employees," he said. "But our office does meet the needs of the citizens of Scott County … by opening early, keeping the office opened through lunch, and working after the (courthouse) doors are locked at 5 p.m. During tax season, we have the office opened Saturday for our citizens that can't get in on weekdays because of work."

Baker said new construction has been a major accomplishment for his office.

"I've been aggressive in seeing that all new construction in our county is on the (tax) rolls within a reasonable time frame, from the issuance of the building permits until construction begins."

In the three years in office, Baker said about $50 million worth of new construction has been put on the tax rolls. The county's last audit reported a big reserve in the county's coffers.

"Our county is operating in the black. I feel that this is due to the hard work of this office," he said.

• C.H. Presley Jr. (I) of Weber City is running for commissioner of revenue.

Although not the incumbent, Presley has experience. He served 12 years in the position, from 1992 through 2003.

"The job is dealing with taxation, straight sales, real estate, personal property. The office does property transfers and keeps real estate records," he said.

The commissioner of revenue is responsible for maintaining the assessed value of property and maintaining property records, Presley said.

With 12 years experience, Presley believes he is the most qualified person for the position.

"I'm interested in the county's well-being. I enjoy helping people with tax problems or whatever I can do to help them and make everything as fair as I can for everyone."

The office is also responsible for state income tax help, he said. Scott County residents can get help from staff at the office with their state income tax forms - something Presley said he took pride in.

In his 12-year tenure, Presley said he modernized the office.

"When I got there (in 1992) there was only one computer. I was responsible for getting computers for each person in there."

Presley said he also worked to organize records in the office.

"I don't have any major agendas, but I did a lot of work in the mapping department," he said.

• Scott County Sheriff Jerry Broadwater (R) is seeking his fifth term in office.

In Scott County history, only four sheriffs have been elected for a second term. Broadwater is the first to hold the office more than two terms. He was elected as sheriff in 1991 and re-elected in 1995, 1999 and 2003.

Throughout his years in office, Broadwater said he has worked to find ways to decrease the amount of money taxpayers spend on housing inmates. While serving on the board of directors of the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail, the average daily cost to house an inmate has decreased from $42 to $16.

"These are changes that will have a positive long-term impact for the county," he said.

In July 2006, the Scott County Sheriff's Office teamed up with the Scott County Department of Social Services to begin implementation of the Project Lifesaver Program. Still in its infancy, the program provides rapid response to Scott County citizens who - suffering from Alzheimer's disease, Down syndrome, autism or other related diseases - need emergency care.

"People who are part of the Project Lifesaver Program wear personalized bracelets that emit a tracking signal 24 hours a day. Searches that have lasted hours to days in other jurisdictions have been reduced to minutes for those utilizing the program," he said. "The average recovery time now for locations using the program is less than 30 minutes."

From 2005 to 2007, the Scott County Sheriff's Office has had 300 drug investigations, 337 felony drug arrests, and 107 misdemeanor drug arrests, Broadwater said. Officers have seized more than $45,000 that was awarded to the department through asset forfeiture hearings. The money has been used to purchase computers, vehicles, surveillance equipment, and uniforms at no expense to the citizens of Scott County.

Illegal drug trafficking has been a priority, Broadwater said.

Four methamphetamine labs have been shut down and cleaned up, and officers have eradicated more than 3,000 marijuana plants with a street value of $334,000.

Broadwater, 51, is a 1973 graduate of Gate City High School, a 1981 graduate of the Southwest Law Enforcement Academy, and has 25 years of law enforcement experience.

Broadwater oversees the county's inmate work program, Adopt-A-Bike Program, use of drug and tracking dogs, and Kids I.D. Program.

No one else has yet filed to run for sheriff.

• As commonwealth's attorney in Scott County for three and a half years, Marcus McClung (R) said he has prosecuted more cases during his term than at any other time in county history.

"We have returned more restitution to victims during this term than in any other term," he said. That was done through the victim witness coordinator. McClung said returning property and money to victims of crimes has been a key point in all his cases.

McClung's office initiated and oversaw operation drug blitz, the biggest drug roundup in Scott County history. More than 160 indictments were handed down on 63 individuals.

"I am certain that we have prosecuted more drug dealers than any other time in Scott County history."

The most assets were forfeited by drug dealers while McClung has been in office than at any other point.

"My office has made it a priority to take the items owned by drug dealers that they received as a result of their illegal drug transactions," he said. "My office, with the State Police, has developed the quick response plan, a comprehensive initiative to enhance the law enforcement reaction time following the report of a child abduction."

A report from the Virginia Circuit Court reporting system shows McClung has overseen the disposition of 533 cases between January and September 2006. During 2005, his office handled 725 cases. In 2004, McClung's office handled 802 cases. McClung estimated his conviction rate is about 90 percent.

"We pride ourselves in getting victims' money back. More victims have received more money on my term," he said.

McClung is the only person to file for commonwealth's attorney.

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