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Commission campaign takes pandemic detour as candidates adapt

When Jamie Booth and Cora Marshall first started campaigning for one of the seats on the Washington County Commission, they never could have anticipated COVID-19.

“It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve had to find new ways to spread my message,” Marshall explained.

Marshall, who is a Democrat, is running against Republican Booth for the commission seat currently occupied by Republican David White. She is also a former Washington County Commissioner.

“I’ve had to attend Zoom meetings instead of in-person, stay socially distanced when talking and wearing my mask,” she added. “I’ve been attending small group meetings, such as township trustee meetings where there are four or five people at the most.”

She said with her last election, she was used to supporters working closely with her. She has been relying on social media to let people know about her and her campaign, primarily through her Vote Cora Marshall Facebook page.

Booth said it has been more difficult to campaign, as there are few social gatherings, but he’s still been going door-to-door to meet Washington County residents.

“I respect everyone’s social distancing and I wear a mask,” he said. “I first approach the door without a mask, but I stand 6 feet back.”

In his experience, 80 to 90 percent of the residents he’s met are still willing to shake hands.

“People still believe in old-fashioned ways,” he explained. “They want to shake a person’s hand and get to know them. The whole purpose behind getting out and meeting people is to get to know them.”

He said hand washing and sanitizing is something he does to keep himself safe after coming in contact with people.

“That’s what we were told, wasn’t it? Just going by the experts,” he added.

Marshall said being a former commissioner has helped with name recognition.

“I’m already familiar with county departments, agencies and offices, and with the responsibilities and challenges of the office, I can hit the ground running both in my campaign and in office,” she explained.

Booth has been spending time in each department the last few months, getting to know department heads and what each job entails.

“I don’t claim to know everybody and everybody’s thoughts,” he said. “The whole idea behind visiting every department was to walk a mile in their shoes … see through their eyes.”

Booth spent anywhere from an hour to eight hours in each department, learning something from each one.

“Maybe not learned, but became aware of,” he explained, noting it will help during budget time. He sees a county commissioner having a leadership role in the community.

“It goes back to my military background,” Booth added. “Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way. It’s all about getting it done. I’m doing this because it needs to be done by someone who will get things done. I think that’s me.”

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