|By Dave Peyton|
(Wed., January 31st)
David Felinton may be getting
most of the publicity
in these parts for winning the
mayors race in
Huntington at the age of 25, but
hes not the
youngest public official to have
been elected in the
state last November.
That honor probably goes to Jason Nettles, a
20-year-old who won the
Calhoun County assessors race.
Calhoun County, in central West Virginia, has only
about 8,000 people. The
average age of folks there is even older than West
Virginias average. And
yet, they elected a 20-year-old to be their
How did Nettles do it? A lot of shoe leather and
plywood donkeys, he says.
Nettles may be a member of Generation X, but first
and foremost hes a
West Virginian and a Calhoun County native. Folks
in the southern part of
the county around Nicut, where he was born, knew
him. But his task was to
get voters in the northern part of the county to
vote for him. To do that, they
had to become acquainted with him.
Thats where his door-to-door campaign helped, he
said. In addition to going
house to house, he put thousands of miles on his
Jeep getting around the
"Jason is just a really good person, really
focused. Hes known since he was
12 years old that he wanted to go into politics,"
said Dianne Weaver of the
unincorporated Calhoun County town of Hur. She and
her husband, Bob,
publish The Hur Herald, an online newspaper you can
"And of course, those donkeys helped a lot," Weaver
Nettles, a Democrat, said he began his campaign by
cutting a few donkeys
out of plywood and painting his campaign signs on
"People would see them in yards and ask if I could
make them one of those
donkeys," Nettles said. "I made nearly 200 of them
and people still ask me
today if I can get one of those donkeys to put in
Nettles said he got considerable razzing from some
folks about his tender
age. "But I just convinced them that I could do the
job and that I would be
honest and serve the public the way Im supposed
to," he said.
He beat a 50-year-old opponent in the Democratic
primary and a
Republican opponent in the general election to win
the job as assessor.
"Jasons biggest job is to convince county folks
that things are changing, that
the way government used to work isnt the way it
works today. And I think
hes doing a good job of doing just that," Weaver
Meanwhile, Nettles is looking to the future.
"Ill be assessor for eight years, then Ill go on
to be a delegate to the
Legislature for eight years, and then Ill run for
governor," he said.
To prepare himself educationally, hes enrolled at
nearby Glenville State
College, where hes majoring in business
administration and minoring, of
course, in political science.
Dave Peyton is a columnist for The
Herald-Dispatch. His telephone
number is 526-2790 and his e-mail address is