OHIO COUNTY, W. Va. (WTRF)-7News is your local election headquarters. 5 Ohio County Board of Education candidates vying for 3 seats went head-to-head tonight. 

The candidates touched on topics surrounding the school system’s budget, upgrades in some school facilities, mental health, and COVID-19. 

WTRF was a proud partner of the forum. That’s why we had our very own 7News Anchor Steve Moore give out questions.  

Up to speak was incumbent David Croft.  He’s a practiced lawyer and certified public accountant. He also spent the last few years learning school law and advocating for kids and employees.

Mental health is one of his priorities. 

“While the kids have been away for two years , so assessing what the mental health needs are first and foremost, and then having counselors work with the kids to reacclimate to learning and socializing again.”

David Croft, candidate

Even Andy Garber agrees. 

“I spent 9 weeks as a substitute principal at Bridge Street Middle School, and we had some counselors come in and work with some very at-risk students. The aspect of mental health is a big component now for what our responsibilities are as a school district.”

Andy Garber, candidate

Garber’s been in education for 47 years as a teacher, special ed director, and principal. He’s also spent time at West Liberty.  

Along with mental health, the candidates were also questioned about the mask mandate. 

Darrin Cox, who taught at multiple universities is also an ACF representative, is for the mandate if it comes down to it.  

“Depending upon the numbers, we would have to go back to a mask mandate, and nobody wants to do that, but protecting our children is the most important thing we have to do.”

Darrin Cox, candidate

But Jessica Powers, who’s very familiar with public education, and incumbent Molly Aderholt disagree.

“I stand for mask choice. Not every student can actually wear a mask. I talked to several parents… a lot of children had panic attacks, increased anxiety, migraines that possibly couldn’t have happened had they not been forced to wear a mask.” 

Jessica Powers, candidate

“I don’t think it should be mandatory. I think parents should have the option to choose. I think we’ve reached the point in this pandemic that the vaccine’s been widely available for a longtime. We’ve been able to protect the vulnerable.” 

Molly Aderholt, candidate

While it may be a tight race, moderator John McCabe encourages everyone to still vote because that determines how our children are brought up. 

“To me, this is the most important race on the ballot this year. Races for congress are important but not at this level. This is the level that affects each of us every day. So, definitely get out and vote.”

John McCabe, moderator

Early voting is already underway in West Virginia. But if you’d rather go on Election Day, that’s May 10th.