CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A couple of familiar names will be on the Democratic ballot for Kanawha County voters. Longtime Kanawha Couunty Commissioner Kent Carper is seeking reelection, but is being challenged for the Democratic nomination by former Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.

Carper has endured some public humiliation in recent months amid allegations of inappropriate behavior in a public park. The allegations rose to an investigation by Charleston city police. A special prosecutor was appointed to the matter, but no charges related to the investigation have ever been filed. Regardless, it’s an issue in the campaign which Carper addressed this way:

Kent Carper

“I would say take a look at my record and take a look at people who know me and who I am,” Carper told 580-WCHS. “Sometimes it’s difficult to explain things you just can’t explain because there is no way in the world you can satisfy some people’s appetite for vicious politics.”

Carper’s health had been an issue as well. He’s a kidney transplant recipient and had other concerns, but has been on the mend and after an extended absence returned to his position on the county commission and continued to work. Carper said he considered stepping down, but made the decision to give it another try at the request of supporters.

“People came to me and asked me to run. Supporters and some who hadn’t supported me in the past. So I discussed it with my family and thought I’d give it consideration and I did. It’s up to the voters of the county,” he said.

Tennant said she came to the candidacy in a similar fashion having not even considered running until she was asked.

“It was a groundswell. I’ve had many people in the community and county who came to me about six or eight months ago and asked me to please run for county commission or to just consider it,” she said. “I took their request seriously and looked at it and here I am.”

Natalie Tennant

Tennant noted she brings diversity to the race and pointed out a woman had never been elected to the Kanawha County Commission in history. She added said she had stayed away from Carper’s side issues in her campaign.

“I know Commissioner Carper and his family and I love his family. A lot of people have asked me about his situation and I really don’t have any information about it. I just run the way I run,” she said.

Tennant said she believed she had the enthusiasm and the right ideas to help the county move ahead. She added her experience in public service equipped her for the job.

“I’m hearing a lot of needs, concerns, and ideas and that’s what I bring is an open, spirited attitude,” she said.

Carper said he is proud of his record and is particularly proud of the county’s financial situation.

“The finances of the county are rock solid. I’ve led and written the budgets for the last 20-some years and I can tell you Kanawha County is debt free today,” he said.

Carper however believed his expertise in the area of budgeting will be needed as the county prepares to forge ahead with required remodeling of the county’s judicial building.

“That’s going to cost Millions of dollars and there’s a serious concern I have about the finances of the county, ” he said.

The winner of the Democratic nomination will face opposition in November.