Thomas returning to seat

ST.?CLAIRSVILLE –?Belmont County has a new commissioner.

Mark Thomas was elected to the post on Thursday at a meeting of the Belmont County Democrat Central Committee.

He will fill out the remaining term of Commissioner Chuck Probst who resigned on Nov. 30. Probst said he did not wish to resign but did so to collect full benefits under the State Public Employees Retirement System before changes take place at the end of the year.

Thomas is no stranger to the commission post. He served as a county commissioner for two terms beginning in 2000. At Thursday’s meeting, Thomas defeated Probst, John Mattox of Flushing, former commissioner Michael Bianconi and Frank Shaffer, Pultney Township trustee.

“Naturally, I am elated and I want to express my thanks to the committee for having faith in me and choosing me for the post,” Thomas said. “I pledge to do my best and will work with the other commissioners and all department heads to do what we can to get the county moving forward,”

Thomas said there is a lot of work which needs to be done. “We must work together for the good of our county and our party. He said his ears and doors are always open, “You will know where I stand whether you agree or disagree with me. Over the years I have made some good decisions and some bad ones, but I pledge to do all I can to work for the betterment of the county.”

He said the key word is cooperation.

Thomas said he intends to seek the commission post next year.

Gordie Longshaw, party chairman, said committee members were told prior to the vote that the winning candidate must receive the vote of half of those present plus one. There were 49 eligible voting committee members present. On the first ballot, Thomas received 25 votes, Probst, nine; Mattox, eight, Bianconi, four and Shaffer, three.

On the second ballot, Thomas got 27 votes, Probst 11, Mattox 10 and Bianconi, one. Shaffer was eliminated after the first ballot.

Thomas was nominated for the post by Dwayne Pielech, former director of Job and Family Services.