There seems to be a lot of confusion out there in regard to the race for Mineral County Board of Education.
Believe me, I had to sit down and think about it myself in order to get it straight!

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
There seems to be a lot of confusion out there in regard to the race for Mineral County Board of Education.
Believe me, I had to sit down and think about it myself in order to get it straight!
The confusion is caused by the fact that each person elected to the board must represent the district in which he or she lives. But because there are five people on the board and only three districts, the seats have to be divvied up in order to keep the representation as fair as possible.
Even though board members are supposed to be impartial, you still don’t want all your board members to be from the same area of the county. We all know how deep the black and gold and blue and white colors run!
So, according to the way the board is laid out, each of the three districts must have at least one representative, and there can be no more than two representatives from each district.
The makeup of the current board is as follows:
District 1: Rob Woy and William Ludwick
District 2: Lara Courrier and Tom Denne
District 3: Mary Jane Baniak.
For several years in recent history, the board had that same 2-2-1 configuration because Kevin Watson was the only representative from the Frankfort District (District 3) to run or win a seat.
As you know, he resigned earlier this year and Mary Jane was appointed to fill his seat until June 30.
For whatever reason (although I have my suspicions and I’m sure you do, too), there are actually four people running from the Frankfort District this year.
There is actually a larger than normal field of board candidates all the way around this year, and I am glad to see more people take an interest in their schools and their county!
Here is the rundown of candidates, by district:
District 1: Terry G. Puffinburger of Fort Ashby and William “Butch” Wahl of New Creek.
District 2: Laura Courrier of Keyser, Dan Radko of Keyser, and Collin Rhodes of Keyser.
District 3: Mary Jane Baniak of Keyser, Seth Sgaggero of Ridgeley, Jessica Imes of Ridgeley and Nicholas “Nic” James of Ridgeley.
NOTE: Due to the nature of the non-symmetrical district boundary lines and the fact that the addresses on the ballot are mailing addresses, you would normally think that Puffinburger, of Fort Ashby, would be in the Frankfort District and Mary Jane, of Keyser, would not. However, that is not the case.
Some county folks that I have talked to about the various districts have admitted they don’t even really understand how they were determined or why they seem so irrationally drawn.
Anyway, when you go to vote, you will see in the instructions on the non-partisan ballot that you are to vote for three of the candidates, as there are three seats coming open.
However, it goes on to say there can be no more than one elected from District 1, one from District 2, or two from District 3.
You can vote for whomever you choose, in whichever district you choose. You do not have to vote within your district.
However, since this particular race is dictated by district representation, the results may not necessarily follow the voters’ choice.
I’ll try to explain this as simply as I can (say a prayer for me!):
Say the top vote-getters are as follows:
John Smith, District 1
Jane Smith, District 1
John Q. Public, District 2
Jane Q. Public, District 3.
As the top vote-getter, John Smith, of District 1, would win a seat on the board.
But because we can only elect one person from District 1 (Rob Woy already represents that district), the next elected member would actually be the third vote-getter, John Q. Public, who represents District 2. And the fourth vote-getter, which in this example is Jane Q. Public from District 3, would win a seat.
Now, if the fourth vote-getter would also happen to be from District 2, instead of District 3, that person would also lose out because Tom Denne already has a seat on the board to represent that district.
So wherever the highest District 3 candidate finishes in the race, that person will automatically win a seat on the council.
And if I haven’t lost you yet, here’s another scenario:
Jane Q. Public, District 3
Joanna Q. Public, District 3
John Smith, District 1
Jane Smith, District 1
John Q. Public, District 2
In this case, since there is no one from District 3 already on the board, both the top and second vote-getters would be elected, as well as the third vote-getter, who is from District 1.
And the board would only have only one representative (Denne) from District 2.
At least political parties (supposedly) don’t play a part in the board election, or we’d really be confused!
Anyway, I urge you to think about your choices carefully and vote for those whom you think will do the best job.
And be assured, your community newspaper will be at the meetings to let you know how they are doing!