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Bailey wants one more term; Riley looking for change

Oct. 20, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Cabell County Commissioner Bob Bailey wants one more term in office before retiring. Republican challenger Greg Riley said it's time for a change.

Riley, the owner and operator of Ziebart/Z-tech in Huntington, said he launched his first bid for public office largely based on a conversation he said he had seven years ago with a sitting county commissioner. He said he asked why it cost $9 million to build the new 911 center and was told it could have been done for $5 million.

In following the commission, Riley said he thinks commissioners are making their decisions based on the interests of county employees rather than county taxpayers.

Bailey, a Democrat, said the county is very fit in terms of its financial health, citing finishing in the black in the 17 years he's been on the commission. He said the commission regularly has a $1 million carryover, which suggests tax collections are up and spending is in check. That has led to nearly-annual raises for employees and health insurance that comes at very little cost -- $12 a month for single coverage and $24 a month for a family.

Riley said the budget is a problem, listing his priorities as controlling spending and "guaranteeing no long-term debt." He also thinks each department should be audited.

There is one budget concern that everyone agrees on: the rising costs the county incurs to house inmates at the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville. The county is responsible to pay just under $49 a day for each person who is jailed by law enforcement agencies in Cabell County, a total cost reaching $3 million for the first time during the past fiscal year.

Bailey said there are several issues he'd like the legislature to pursue, including pro-rated incarceration rates and sharing the cost with the arresting agencies.

Riley said he thinks legislators should increase jail time with mandatory sentences for drug dealers, including pill mill doctors, which would reduce recidivism. He also favors having students visit the jail to see what happens to those who make illegal choices.

"This will have an impact when these kids make decisions in the future as to where they want to be later in life," Riley said.

Riley, a father of two, said he is a big supporter of young people, saying the county should be matching dollar for dollar what it spends for the animal shelter on children. He also said the senior centers are well taken care of and wants to move forward in establishing or supporting youth centers in all communities so children have a place to study, receive counseling or meet with a mentor.

Bailey, who is 72, reiterated his passion about continuing to aid the seniors of Cabell County. He is the president of Cabell County Community Services Organization, which bought the former West Middle School a few years ago and is adamant in getting it converted to senior apartments and moving CCCSO's administrative offices there.

"I look out for seniors," Bailey said, citing his involvement as commissioner in building three new senior centers in Cabell County.

Finally, both want to help bring jobs to the county. Riley said businesses create jobs, while government should help create the environment for that to happen. Bailey said it has gotten better, crediting the commission's work to get water lines to 95 percent of the households in the county and his involvement as both the president of the Tri-State Transit Authority Board of Directors and member of the Huntington Area Development Council board.