CHARLES TOWN – Establishing a late-entry campaign, Gregory Lance, a former Ranson mayor and a former county commissioner, has been tapped to run as the Mountain Party’s candidate for sheriff.
After recently retiring from a pharmaceutical sales career spanning 37 years, Lance said he’s ready and energized to return to public service. He served three two-year terms as mayor until 1986 and two six-year terms as a county commissioner until 1998.
“I just got a lot of experience. I understand how the system works, and I know people that you need to work with to get things done in county government,” he said. “I just think I have a lot to offer and that’s why I’m running.”
Lance, 64, filed as a sheriff candidate last month after receiving the Mountain Party’s nomination for the position in June. He is now one of five sheriff’s candidates who will appear on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.
He previously served as a Democrat in a continuous run serving in public office for 18 years starting in 1980, first as mayor and then as a county commissioner. He settled on campaigning for sheriff this year after considering a run for magistrate in the June 8 primary, he said.
While he has longstanding relationships with Mountain Party leaders, and that he agrees with the party’s fundamental positions, the sheriff’s office should fundamentally be a nonpartisan position, he added.
“I just thought that there needs to be another way to reach out to the people in Jefferson County and get away from the politicization of everything that has gone on in the last couple years,” he said.
Lance most recently ran again as a Democrat for county commissioner in 2018. He was eliminated in that year’s primary by Ralph Lorenzetti, a former county prosecutor who was elected to the Harpers Ferry district commission seat in the general election.
The sheriff position oversees the county’s police force, courthouse security and animal control program. The role also includes serving as county treasurer, which is responsible for managing the county tax office as the local tax collection agency.
Lance said Pete Dougherty, the current sheriff, and Bill Senseney, a former sheriff, were successful in managing the county’s police force without a prior law enforcement experience. The force employs about three dozen sworn deputies.
A retired Veterans Administration employee, Dougherty is a former magistrate and a longtime school board member. A former businessman, Senseney served two terms as sheriff and went on to serve five elected terms as a magistrate court judge before retiring in December 2018.
Lance said his business degree and background, his mayoral experience, which included serving as a city magistrate and overseeing the city’s police department of about seven officers, gives him the experience necessary to handle the job of sheriff.
If elected, Lance said he would continue the force’s current focus on addressing illegal drug use, trafficking and, by extension, addiction issues as the county’s top public safety and law enforcement challenge.
“We still do have an issue with drugs in the county,” he said. “It’s important that we get that under control and get those people [involved in illegal drugs] the help that they need and try to get them back into the community.”
“The most important thing is to try to find those areas where we know where the problems are and address them so that they don’t continue to get worse,” he added.
A graduate of Jefferson High School in 1973, Lance went on to earn a business and financing degree from what was then Shepherd College.
Soon after he was elected the state’s youngest mayor winning his first of three terms serving the city of Ranson.
While he was a commissioner, Lance served six years on the board of the West Virginia County Commissioners Association, including two years as the organization’s president.
“I just felt that I could really do a good job in this situation,” Lance said.
“I’ve got the time. I’ve got the experience,” he continued. “I’ve got almost 18 years experience in politics in Jefferson County, and I know what the people in Jefferson County expect and I think I have the ability to do that job.”
Five Sheriff Candidates
Jefferson County voters will elect a new sheriff and treasurer among five candidates during the Nov. 3 general election. The position oversees the county’s police force, courthouse security and animal control program. The role also includes serving as county treasurer, which is responsible for managing the county tax office as the local tax collection agency.
Steve Cox of Summit Point, a bail bond business owner and a former Ranson police officer
John King of Charles Town, a retired special agent with the U.S. Capitol Police
Gregory Lance of Charles Town, a former Ranson mayor and a former two-term county commissioner
Tom Hansen of Kearneysville, a retired lieutenant with the county Sheriff’s Office
Mike Chapman of Rippon, an information technology business professional and a 10-year reserve deputy sheriff