By Peggy Mackenzie
Greenbrier County Commission President Karen Lobban announced she will run for re-election as a write-in candidate for county commissioner at a press conference held on Monday. She said her decision to run was triggered by requests from citizens around the county and in Charleston. She said she has received donations from supporters for her campaign.
“We need someone who can talk to these people [in Charleston],” she said, “and I know them all.”
Lobban stated her number one reason for the write-in candidacy is “to give another choice to Greenbrier County citizens for the health and well-being of the county.”
Lobban lost the Democratic nomination to rival first-time candidate Christian Giggenbach in the primary election held last May. Lowell Rose won the Republican nomination and will run against Giggenbach in November for a seat on the commission.
Lobban said there are projects she’s worked on while serving on the commission which she hopes to foster to fruition, including infrastructure development for a water source in the western end and a state road bypass.
Although she said she was not invited to participate at the candidate forum held at Greenbrier Valley Theatre on Tuesday, Sept. 23, Lobban said she would be able to field questions at a candidate forum in Rupert in the upcoming weeks.
Lobban says she is ready to focus on the election now that criminal charges against her and former commission president Betty Crookshanks have been dismissed with prejudice, which means those same charges cannot be brought back to court. The two women were charged with misappropriating $1.3 million in hotel/motel tax funds for a swimming pool on the campus of the New River Community and Technical College.
After Senior Status Judge Joseph C. Pomponio Jr. dismissed all criminal charges last week, the court files were ordered closed immediately. Asked why the files were sealed, Lobban responded, “It was not at my request. It sure makes you wonder what was going on, though. It’s most unusual.”
“We did nothing wrong,” Lobban continued. “We had letters from the prosecutor and the auditor’s office saying we could spend the money [for the pool].” She said the court costs for the county for both the criminal and civil cases involving New River College as of last month is in excess of $51,000. Those fees, she said, will likely be paid with taxpayer funds.
A write-in campaign will be challenging, Lobban said, but added, “I think it’s important we move forward. Greenbrier County has much to offer, and we need to preserve what we have here.”
There is a chance that many voters will not know how to access the write-in option when they go behind the voter’s curtain on Election Day because Lobban’s name will not be not shown on the ballot. To activate Lobban’s name, the voter must scroll down past the first two choices – Republican and Democrat – to the third option for county commissioner and press the corresponding button. A keyboard will appear on the screen. The voter can then type in Lobban’s name, and then press the button a second time, completing the write-in option.
Lobban stated at the press conference that she is available for questions at any time and can be reached at 304-445-7730 and 304-667-5049.