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NAME: Jacob Messer
CANDIDATE FOR: Boone County Commissioner
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: https://www.facebook.com/jacobmesserforcountycommission/
HOME CITY: Haddalton
HOME COUNTY: Boone County
EDUCATION: I have a high school diploma from Scott High School, a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Marshall University, a master’s degree in special education from West Virginia University, a post-graduate certificate in social services and attendance from Marshall University, a post-graduate certificate in school principalship from Marshall University, a permanent credential as a special education teacher from the West Virginia Department of Education, and a permanent credential as a technology integration specialist from the West Virginia Department of Education. I also will have a doctorate in education in leadership studies and a post-graduate credential in career and technical education leadership from Marshall University on May 2, 2020.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: I’m the principal at Scott High School, which is the largest school in Boone County with a staff of approximately 55 employees and an enrollment of approximately 625 students.
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Assistant principal at Sherman Elementary School, Sherman Junior High School, and Sherman High School; special education teacher at Sherman Junior High School, Scott High School, and Madison Middle School; and journalist at the Hometown News, Coal Valley News, Charleston Gazette, Charleston Daily Mail, Parthenon, The (Columbia, S.C.) State, Indianapolis (Ind.) Star, Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times, Herd Insider, and Herd Nation.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Hilltop Chapel Free Will Baptist Church, Madison Rotary Club, Independent Order of Odd Fellows (Lodge 170), Appalachian Community Theater, United Way Backpack Buddies, In Action Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner, Mountaineer Food Bank Mobile Food Pantry, and Scott High School Band Boosters.
FAMILY: wife, Amanda; son, Caleb; nephew, Dane; mother, Barbara; and father, Melvin (deceased)
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I love Boone County and its people. Our county faces problems that threaten to destroy it if we don’t take action now. I want to find solutions for those problems because I want to improve our county and empower our citizens. I’m a high-energy, goal-oriented, community-centered go-getter with a blue-collar work ethic; I’m exactly what our county needs during these tough times. I’m also a Christian who will represent our county well. I’m also a proven leader with proven results. I have the intelligence, integrity, passion, and vision to make a positive and significant impact as a county commissioner.
1. How would you implement better county planning?
Collaboration is critical for better county planning. I believe we need monthly work sessions for county leaders so we can tackle problems as a team. I also believe we need monthly town hall meetings in which county commissioners go to the people to answer questions, address concerns, and hear ideas; we could visit each district four times per year.
2. How would you encourage economic development in the county?
First, we must create a workforce that is educated and drug free. We must change our county’s culture by emphasizing the value of post-secondary education and the importance of work ethic. Second, we must improve our infrastructure to attract businesses. We must work with our state and federal leaders to find funding. We also can use grants for economy-boosting projects.
3. What more needs to be done about dilapidated housing in the county?
We need to look at what we can do legally to deal with those eyesores. Law-abiding property owners deserve to be protected from those who abuse the system. Our municipalities have had some success with tearing down dilapidated buildings in their communities. We can work with and learn from their leaders so we can use similar approaches countywide.
4. What are the three most pressing problems the county faces?
Our three most pressing problems are the drug epidemic, the economy, and the quality of life for our citizens. We must combat the drug epidemic with rehabilitative and preventative programs. We must attract businesses and produce workers that will help our economy. We must protect our current services and facilities, such as our parks, community centers, and meals for seniors.
5. What needs to be done about litter control in the county?
We need to look at what we can do legally to deal with litter control, which is another eyesore in our county. We need to hold people accountable for their actions. This problem also needs a culture change. We have several local cleanups that show the pride our citizens have for our communities. We need that pride to be pervasive.
6. How do you plan on continuing to maintain a balanced budget?
I will maintain a balanced budget by making educated decisions. I will analyze budget items individually. I will visit county offices to see how they operate, so I can identify strengths and weaknesses and determine ways to improve our effectiveness and efficiency. My most important budgetary concern always will be maintaining the most critical services for our citizens.