Eight Rivers Council
Questionnaire to Candidates for Pocahontas County Commission for 2016

[Note: These questions were prepared by a committee following solicitation of questions from Eight Rivers Council email list. These were sent out in April to primary candidates. After the primary, another candidate filed. Then in early October current candidates were offered an opportunity to revise their original statements or remain the same. The below questionnaire then have responses from the candidates for the November 8, 2016 election.]


Question #1: What kind of development do you see as appropriate/inappropriate for this county?  Please give specific examples. How would you directly involve yourself in development projects?

Groseclose, Jesse A.

I see any development that provides quality service and jobs to our community as appropriate; provided it does not negatively affect our environment, other industries or our quality of life. The service sector is one area that holds great potential for both job growth and business opportunities. We also need to better train our youth to become mindful stewards of our assets while having a positive economic impact on their lives. As commissioner, I would take every opportunity to promote healthy development in cooperation with agencies such as the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation, The Board of Education, The Department of Agriculture and other vested local and state agencies.

John Leyzorek
Development is not a primary responsibility of Government.  Government's attempts to push or guide development tend to be oppressive, wasteful, corrupt, and ineffective.
A present example of this is our own "Flood Plain Ordinance" By making development in flood plains eligible for Government-subsidized flood insurance, it actually encourages development of areas that would provide more benefit to watershed functioning and recreation by  remaining in a natural state.
Another is the interminable and agonizing history of "Development Authorities",  which have tied up our land and wasted our money on unharvestable fields and empty unusable buildings for many years.
 A more robust, that is, a wealth-creating local economy, is important to Pocahontas County's health as a human habitat.  Historically, there are only two sources of human material wealth, they are natural resources and intelligent human labor.   We are blessed here with an abundance of certain resources including soil,water, timber, and stone, however we are distant from mass markets.  We  also have suffered from generations of brain- and labor-drain.
Thus the material products most suited to be produced here are high-value ones (eg furniture, medicinal herbs,  sculptures, not crude raw materials like unprocessed logs), whose value is much greater than the cost of transportation.  Private control of these resources and low property taxes (because high taxes force owners to squeeze money out of their property) are the best insurance that they will be managed sustainably and not suffer the "tragedy of the commons".
Affordable land costs and improved Internet access are two factors that can encourage more of our own young people to build lives (and livelihoods) here, as well as encouraging immigration of people looking for more than just a vacation home.
In my view, tourism is a two-edged sword. It certainly provides revenue and entry-level jobs.  It presents Pocahontas County to the world as a place of beauty, kindness, and serenity.  If this encourages vigorous people to bring their intelligence and energy here to contribute to our communities, that is all good. If it drives up the cost of homes for working people, that is bad.

Jamie Walker

Mr. Walker did not respond to Eight Rivers Council.

Question #2: What special qualities does Pocahontas County have that could be utilized toward building a brighter future?

Groseclose, Jesse A.

Pocahontas County has numerous natural attractions such as: the Greenbrier River and Trail, state parks, public lands, Highland Scenic Highway and Visitor’s center, Cranberry Glades, scenic trains, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Snowshoe Ski Resort, farmland and timberland. It also has a strong business community, hard-working people and clean water sources. Every one of these assets play a major role in a brighter future for Pocahontas County. Not only do they serve our local community but also they are a major attraction for tourists, retirees and people looking for our way of life. Continued promotion and responsible use of these assets are necessary for a healthy and thriving community. 
John Leyzorek
Natural resources, including pure waters and great beauty, and a local culture which still embraces a certain amount of politeness, self-reliance, and respect for hard work.  Relative proximity to population centers .

Jamie Walker

Mr. Walker did not respond to Eight Rivers Council.

Question #3: What infrastructure and county services need to be strengthened in Pocahontas, and how would you go about it? (Internet is one example, but you may include other infrastructure and services as well.)

Groseclose, Jesse A.

Reliable high-speed internet and cell phone coverage are essential for today’s market. I would promote healthy competition between providers for both of these services. I would support legislation concerning these and other beneficial items.  We also need to devise a solid plan for the use of existing infrastructure such as the Edray Industrial Park that would benefit our county.
John Leyzorek
Internet is the prime example, to facilitate commerce and education and attract intelligent people, but low taxes and minimal intrusive and  bureaucratic regulation (like building codes) are key, as well.  We can keep taxes low by remembering that Government is never the low-cost provider of services, nor is it moral to take  by force from one to give  to another.  As Commissioner, I would stand against any increase in taxes, and against any forced land-use regulation.  Rule of Law is of vital importance as an "infrastructure improvement".  When individuals can expect prompt redress for injuries to their own properties, potential polluters think twice before fouling their neighbor's space.
 I proposed,  and will again promote a distributed, voluntary flood mitigation and watershed improvement plan called, The Thousand Ponds".

Jamie Walker

Mr. Walker did not respond to Eight Rivers Council.

Question #4: The proposed Birthplace of Rivers National Monument has been controversial in Pocahontas. Please state some of the major arguments for and against that proposal.

Groseclose, Jesse A.

The National Monument designation could provide more national exposure. Therefore, it would provide increased tourism to the area as well as additional layers of protection for the land. However, this could also be detrimental to timbering, hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and other uses that are freely enjoyed by all at no fee under current Forest Service management.
John Leyzorek
Proponents look for better protection of nature and more tourism, in my view two incompatible goals. Opponents fear regulation of traditional land uses.  I oppose this designation. This is our home, not the Nation's diorama.  More regulation and loss of local control does not encourage but frustrates stewardship and love of one's home.  We do not need more lost economic base----60% of our land is already largely "off the table".

Jamie Walker

Mr. Walker did not respond to Eight Rivers Council.

Question #5: What do you consider as appropriate and inappropriate applications of Eminent Domain? Please explain how you view the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and how it might positively or negatively affect Pocahontas?

Groseclose, Jesse A.


Under no conditions do I find the use of eminent domain appropriate for private interests. My family and I have been threatened with the use of imminent domain in the past. I know what this feels like and I do not like it. Even for public good, the use of eminent domain should be the very last course of action and those affected need to be fairly compensated for their losses. The ACP is a private entity. The ACP may financially benefit some landowners and provide tax income for the county. However, we must ask ourselves if these tax dollars will offset the losses in property values, tourism and the potential environmental hazards, especially to our water. Property rights also play an important role in this decision making process.

John Leyzorek
I suppose I might support use of Eminent Domain for urgent national defense purposes---but under NO other circumstances.  I am on record as an Intervenor in opposition to the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline., which in my opinion offers zero long term benefit to Pocahontas County, and is being promoted by fraud.   I proposed for adoption by the County Commission some years ago a “Private Property Protection Resolution”  opposing the use of Eminent Domain in our County.  That Commission refused to consider it, but I will move its adoption, if elected.

Jamie Walker

Mr. Walker did not respond to Eight Rivers Council.

Question #6: The previous two questions are just a couple examples of the many controversial issues that face our county. How would you help our county come together to resolve difficult issues? 

Groseclose, Jesse A.

I would help our county come together by first educating myself on both sides of issues and working to pass that knowledge on to the public. The only good decision is an informed decision. It is impossible to always agree on an outcome. I believe listening to each other and presenting our facts with mutual respect is imperative in order to resolve difficult issues to the best of our abilities.
John Leyzorek
On some issues many people can come together, on others irreconcilable disagreement will remain despite all efforts.  I often say that private property is one of the best human inventions, because it allows you and me to disagree and still get along. The best hope for consensus on issues that cross property boundaries is careful research and full disclosure; diligence and honesty.  Attempting to manufacture consensus by hype and emotional blackmail is dishonest and only erodes the social fabric. Respect for the rights of others is the foundation of any workable society, and protection of those rights is the  purpose and justification of all government.

Jamie Walker

Mr. Walker did not respond to Eight Rivers Council.

Question #7: A County Commissioner receives $39,500 salary plus generous health and retirement benefits. Commission meetings and appointed board meetings take about 250 hours per year. How will you use your non-meeting time to benefit Pocahontas?

Groseclose, Jesse A.

A county commissioner represents citizens not only at the commissioner’s office but also on many boards such as: The Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation, Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Farmland Protection, Hospital, Senior Citizen, etc. I will treat the county commission as my number one job. I intend to represent the best interests of our citizens by making informed decisions. In order to do this, a great deal of time will be spent researching the facts on both sides of an issue. Much time will also be spent creating healthy relationships between our local citizens and state stakeholders to nurture connections that would benefit our county.

John Leyzorek
 I think this salary is excessive, and will support reducing it.  I expect my making myself available for listening to public input and discussion of issues in public and in private, and necessary research to develop ideas and evaluate proposals will require five or more times the scheduled hours.  I have a record of doing my homework on the public issues and projects in which I have been involved.

Jamie Walker

Mr. Walker did not respond to Eight Rivers Council.

Question #8: This is open-ended. Please feel free to bring up other issues, or make statements pertaining to your candidacy, your background and experience, your interests, and your goals.

Groseclose, Jesse A.

I may not have all the answers; however, I will take this job seriously, as I have all my endeavors. I will serve this county with honor and respect. I welcome informed advice and ideas and hope to work together, with mutual respect, to improve our county and protect our valuable assets. I value my reputation as a hard worker and provider as well as an entrepreneur. We need to help our citizens rediscover that entrepreneurial spirit and support them. We need to train our youth to become responsible service providers and professionals and retain that youth.  We need to retake our county from the grasp of drugs and we need to protect our citizens and resources. After all, these values and resources are why I call Pocahontas County my home alongside my wife of 16 years. It is why we have invested in our county and we are active on various boards and clubs. As your commissioner, I pray I will make the “right” choices but unfortunately, what is right to some may not be to others. You will find that I am an open-minded, patient person that thinks thoroughly on the issues. As your commissioner, I am ready to act on your behalf.

John Leyzorek
I came to Pocahontas County 29 years ago looking for the opportunity to live in freedom, in harmony with nature, and to belong to a community that respects the traditional values of work, neighborliness, and family.  I have been richly blessed here with opportunities to raise a family, engage in business on a small scale, enjoy a magnificent natural environment, help many of my neighbors, and build a home. This community is my home, my livelihood comes from it and my children grow into it. I cannot shut my gate and ignore its issues and its future, rather I must fight to defend and improve it. I hope to contribute as Commissioner to making it possible for at least some of my children, and your children, to do the same.

Jamie Walker

Mr. Walker did not respond to Eight Rivers Council.

[Note: For responses from county commission candidates during the primary, go to this link.]