Meet the Candidates: Mason County Prosecutor’s Race

Staff Report

Pictured are Republican Seth Gaskins and Democrat Tanya Handley who are both vying to become Mason County’s next Prosecuting Attorney. (Courtesy)

Pictured are Republican Seth Gaskins and Democrat Tanya Handley who are both vying to become Mason County’s next Prosecuting Attorney. (Courtesy)

Editor’s Note: As we approach the November General Election, the Point Pleasant Register will be running “Meet the Candidate” profiles, allowing those running for office in contested races to introduce themselves to voters. Each candidate was given the same word count parameters, then asked to provide background information on themselves and to answer the question “Why are you running for this office?”

MASON COUNTY — Today’s installment of “Meet the Candidates” focuses on the race for Mason County Prosecuting Attorney, which sees Republican Seth Gaskins and Democrat Tanya Handley, competing to win the most votes on Nov. 3.

Candidates and their responses to the Register’s request for information, are listed below in alphabetical order.

Seth Gaskins

Background information

Seth Gaskins of Point Pleasant is the Republican candidate for Mason County Prosecuting Attorney. He has a B.A. from Marshall University; J.D.; Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law School. He is currently a self-employed attorney.

Other work history includes: Clerk, West Virginia Crime Victims Compensation Fund; Chief Counsel, West Virginia House of Delegates; Counsel, West Virginia Senate; Law Clerk, Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia; Coal Miner; Mason County School Teacher.

He has two children, Ella, age 9 and Everleigh, age 5.

Why are you running for this office?

“I, like the vast majority of the citizens of Mason County, miss the days when it felt safe in our communities. In recent years, we have seen the dramatic increase of opioid drug use, which has touched the lives of almost everyone in our county. At the same time, we’ve seen out-of-state drug dealers perpetuate this problem with almost zero repercussions. This has led to an increase in property crimes committed by those who are seeking a way to feed their own addictions.

“I’m running for Prosecutor because I believe this office is key to solving many of these problems. Despite an ever-shrinking county budget and low morale, we can overcome this scourge. As Prosecutor, I will first focus on the following:

Drug Crime – I will seek the maximum sentence for any person who is engaged in the selling or distribution of these dangerous and addictive drugs, while seeking alternative sentencing or treatment programs for addicts who are first time offenders.

Communication – We owe it to our officers to clearly communicate and consider their input. Officers shouldn’t be delayed or ignored by the Prosecutor when seeking warrants. Likewise, our citizens should have a method to communicate directly with the law enforcement community. Therefore, I will develop, in cooperation with the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, an online resource for the public to provide anonymous information.

Victims – Victims of crimes require support in order to receive compensation from the Crime Victim’s Fund in Charleston. As a former administrator of this Fund, I know how to quickly get victims the resources they need so that they can begin to put their lives back together.

“Ultimately, I believe that I have the qualifications, the energy, and the passion to help move us in the right direction. I ask humbly for your vote this election.”

Tanya Handley

Background information

I graduated from Wheeling Jesuit University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. I obtained my law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law in 2002. I also completed the Trial Advocacy School at the University of Virginia in 2004. I am a member of the West Virginia Board of Governors for the West Virginia State Bar and member and past President of the Mason County Bar.

I have been fighting for justice for people in various areas of the law for over 18 years. During that time, I have appeared before state and federal judges on thousands of occasions, arguing motions, protecting peoples’ rights, and trying cases. I also prepared thousands of motions, memoranda, and briefs regarding all areas of the law, argued before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and represented children in abuse and neglect proceedings.

I have been married to my husband, Rick Handley, for 15 years and am the mother of Lizzie (14) and Trent (12); the stepmother of Carrie, Kim and Stephen and grandmother to 10. I am very active in the Mason County Community, including being on the boards of several organizations, and am an avid supporter of our youth and schools.

Why are you running for this office?

“I have always been committed to serving my community in whatever capacity is needed. Upon learning the Prosecuting Attorney position would be open, I knew that Mason County needed an attorney experienced in criminal law who had tried cases to a jury. This experience is necessary to ensure that criminals are fully prosecuted, victims are protected, and justice is served. I have 18 years of courtroom experience and have tried cases in federal and state courts. I have been lead counsel in thousands of criminal cases. I know the laws, the requirements to have evidence and testimony admitted at trial, and how to present a case to a jury. Criminals cannot be brought to justice if a prosecutor does not have the knowledge or experience to ensure that a conviction will stand. Beyond prosecuting criminals, the prosecutor also represents the DHHR in abuse and neglect cases and prosecutes juvenile cases. Electing someone who has no experience in those areas could lead to children being returned to abusive and neglectful parents. The children of Mason County simply cannot afford for an attorney whose job it is to protect them to obtain on-the-job training as the County’s prosecutor. Further, as President of the Mason County Board of Corrections and member of the Mason County Drug Court Team, I have the knowledge to ensure that resources are fully utilized in alternative sentencing and bond conditions to help people who are ready to combat their addiction, stopping the cyclical nature of drug crimes plaguing Mason County. I am running for Prosecuting Attorney because I want what is best for Mason County, where I have lived for 15 years and my children are being raised, and because I have the experience, integrity and work ethic to fight for justice for the people of Mason County.”

Pictured are Republican Seth Gaskins and Democrat Tanya Handley who are both vying to become Mason County’s next Prosecuting Attorney. (Courtesy) are Republican Seth Gaskins and Democrat Tanya Handley who are both vying to become Mason County’s next Prosecuting Attorney. (Courtesy)

Staff Report