SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — 67nd District Delegate John Doyle (D – Jefferson County) has announced he’ll run for Jefferson County Commission in next year’s election.
Doyle has spent 25 years in the House of Delegates. He says redistricting was a big reason he’s leaving. “Because they drew the districts in such a way that it would be impossible in my view to be re-elected to the House of Delegates. They put me in a district that is 70 percent in Berkeley County. And anybody who has run for office around here knows that people vote their geography. It’s almost as important as voting their party. And while the district that I was put in is a bluish-purple district, I think I could win it if I were a resident of Berkeley County. I do not think a resident of Jefferson County can win that district,” Doyle said.
Doyle says there are some serious issues with the way the current commission is being run.
“After much thought, I decided that the problems in Jefferson County are not only serious, but urgent, and I could pitch in right away to try to help deal with them,” Doyle said of his decision not to seek re-election to the House or a seat in the Senate.
Doyle cited issues with the way a zoning ordinance was handled by county leaders. “They changed the Zoning Ordinance without changing the Master Plan. Somebody that didn’t like what they did went to court and the judge threw the whole zoning plan out. So they had to wait a whole another few years before they adopted a zoning plan. It is clear that if you’re going to do that, you’ve got to change the Master Plan first, because the Zoning Ordinance must conform to the Master Plan.”
The delegate, who’s from Shepherdstown, says he’ll run ‘with’ former House of Delegates colleague and fellow Democrat Dale Manuel, who would represent the Charles Town magisterial district if elected.
As a Democrat, Doyle has been increasingly in the minority both statewide and in the Eastern Panhandle legislative delegation, but he denies that’s the reason he’s leaving the legislature. “I have enjoyed the last few years in the House of Delegates,” he said. “It’s a different role than the many years I was in the majority, but I have enjoyed it just as much.”
This fall, former 16th District Senator John Unger of Berkeley County, also a Democrat, was appointed to magistrate court. His replacement, long-time political analyst and Shepherd University instructor Hannah Geffert, has told the Panhandle News Network she is strongly considering running for the seat when it comes up for election. The 16th District also has a senator from Jefferson County in Republican Patricia Rucker, but Doyle said he felt he could get more done if elected as a commissioner rather than wait and run for that seat in 2024.
The official filing period for candidates in statewide races begins January 10th.
Doyle was a guest on Wednesday’s Panhandle Live. You can hear the full interview on the podcast, available on the Panhandle Live Facebook page or on Spotify.