WELLSBURG - While the race for Brooke County sheriff appeared to have been decided in the May primary election, one of the candidates has thrown his hat back into the race as an official write-in candidate.
Chuck Jackson of Wellsburg had been declared the winner of a three-way race on the Democratic ticket for sheriff, but that win could be challenged by Mike Allman of Wellsburg, who with Roger Garretson was defeated by Jackson in May.
There are no Republican candidates for the office. Incumbent Richard Ferguson under state law may not seek a third term.
Because of Allman's status as an official write-in candidate, his name won't appear on ballots. Voters will need to use the write-in option on the screen of the county's electronic voting machines to cast a vote for him. Those with questions about doing should approach an election clerk at their polling place or County Clerk Sylvia Benzo prior to the election.
Asked why he decided to run as a write-in, Allman said following the May election he heard from many people who said they didn't get to vote and were sorry they weren't able to vote for him.
Allman served as Brooke County sheriff from 1988 to 1996 before beginning a 15-year tenure as magistrate. He said he would have liked to have finished his current term as magistrate, which ends this year, but state code calls for him to resign when running for anything other than a judicial position.
Allman said as sheriff he hopes to revive some programs, such as a sheriff's advisory board consisting of residents from throughout the county who would share issues and problems affecting them; and safety talks in elementary schools involving strangers, bicycles and traffic laws and Halloween.
He said illegal drugs are a major problem in the Ohio Valley and he'd ensure the sheriff's department participates in the Weirton-Brooke-Hancock Drug Task Force and establish a program in middle schools aimed at deterring youth from illegal drugs.
Allman said he also would devote deputies to detective work and encourage others to receive training in specialized areas, such as arson investigation.
As sheriff, he was a founding member of the drug task force and established a Drug Abuse Resistence Education program in local schools; RUOK (Are You OK?), through which 911 dispatchers check on senior residents each morning; and a prevention and resource officer at Brooke High School.
Allman holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from West Liberty University and completed basic training at the West Virginia State Police Academy before serving as a Bethany police officer in 1974.
He served as chief of the town's small police department in 1976 before moving to the Brooke County Sheriff's Department, where he served as chief sheriff's deputy before he was elected sheriff.
Jackson served the West Virginia State Police for 22 years, 13 of them in criminal investigations, which involved organizing and supervising drug task force and plain clothes investigations at state and federal levels.
In 2001, Jackson was promoted to captain and named officer in charge of State Police special operations, which included aviation, bomb technicians and K-9 units.
He later served as a troop commander, supervising uniform operations for more than 20 percent of the state, until his retirement in 2004.
Since then he has served as chief sheriff's deputy under Brooke County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Ferguson at Ferguson's request.
Jackson graduated from the West Virginia State Police Academy as the most outstanding officer and the Drug Enforcement Agency's Drug Unit Commander Academy and completed an internship at the FBI Electronics Research Facility in Quantico, Va.
He said the sheriff's department has been represented on the Weirton-Brooke-Hancock Drug Task Force since it was restructured under U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld II earlier this year and he will push for it to expand the focus of its investigations.
"It's my goal in working with the task force to add a few dimensions, including collateral crimes related to drug abuse, such as thefts, breaking and enterings and robberies," Jackson said.
He said all of the deputies have received training in crime investigations and are competent to conduct them. He said if elected, he won't devote any officer solely to detective work because it would take him away from regular patrols, which he plans to increase.
Jackson said some deputies do have areas of expertise and he will ensure others are trained in areas that conform with their strenghths, interests and the county's needs.
He said he also will ensure all deputies conduct themselves in a professional manner and are accountable for their actions.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)