By Mary Wade Burnside
Times West Virginian
Many West Virginians probably cannot remember a time when someone other than Gus R. Douglass served as the state’s commissioner of agriculture.
Other than a four-year period when Greenbrier County farmer Cleve Benedict held the position from 1989 to 1993, Douglass, a Democrat, has been at the post since shortly after he was elected to it in 1964, the same year the Beatles invaded America.
Douglass’ retirement after holding the post for 44 years leaves the field wide open.
Facing off in the general election are Democrat Walt Helmick, a state senator from Pocahontas County, and Republican Kent Leonhardt.
Helmick has a bachelor of arts degree from the West Virginia Institute of Technology.