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HUNTINGTON — Republican Del. John Mandt Jr. is seeking election to the Cabell County Commission.

Mandt currently represents the 16th District, which includes parts of Cabell and Lincoln counties, in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Now, he sets his sights on holding local office.

“We need new blood — that’s a fact — in our city and county government,” Mandt said.

He first announced his candidacy Friday on the Tom Roten Morning Show and then on Facebook. He said he planned to submit the paperwork to run for commission on Monday.

Mandt said he is announcing his candidacy now as West Virginia begins redistricting and to give potential candidates time to consider running for his seat.

“We need another strong person to follow in my footsteps and to do some good things. We have a conservative supermajority and we need some people to come in behind me and carry the torch as I did behind Carol Miller and some others and keep it going.”

Mandt said Cabell County voters should know that he is a hard worker and has lots of energy. He said he will aim to be transparent, honest and approachable if elected to the commission. One way of doing that could be to have a program similar to for Cabell County online, he said. He added that he plans to be reachable not just at the courthouse but out in the community as well.

Mandt’s family has been the longtime owners of Stewarts Original Hot Dogs. He said compared running a business to running Cabell County.

“I’m excited for the challenge. I’m excited for the race. I’m excited for the position.”

His first foray into elected office was on the board of the Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District from 1996 to 2000. Mandt said he then planned to not seek another position until his children had grown up. In 2018, Mandt was elected to the House of Delegates. In 2020, he was re-elected to the role he had resigned from amid claims he had used homophobic slurs in a private Facebook chat. Though he denied making the remarks and said they were fabricated in some way, he vacated his seat to focus on his family and business, he said at the time, and to not be a distraction for his colleagues.

As a delegate, Mandt served as an assistant majority whip. He’s currently on committees for Energy and Manufacturing; Senior, Children, and Family Issues; and Select Committee on Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse. Mandt is the vice-chairman of the Small Business and Economic Development committee.

Mandt said since his announcement, he heard from many supporters, including those who live outside District 16. The commission race is county-wide.

Cabell County Commissioners are elected to six-year terms. President Jim Morgan’s seat is up for election next year. As of Monday, no other candidates had filed to run for the office.

McKenna Horsley is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @Mckennahorsley.

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