The Good Commissioner of West Virginia (Bonus)

Meet Fred Davis of Tucker County, West Virginia. His campaign strategy involved lottery tickets and beer. He’s a real character on government and he’s a real as they come. So what makes him good, he listens… just listen.


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Fred Davis: Be yourself, I tell everybody. Be yourself. Don’t be somebody you’re not. My campaign strategy is talk to people. In this day, everybody. Everybody has different ideas. So. And I try to work with their bodies, ideas.

This is a truth. My dad, my dad told me that if I worked in the coal mines, he would probably just rather kill me than have to sleep in bed, worry about me a night underground. The the, you know, die in a coal mines right? To be a better government person, but not just doing what Fred wants to do.

I try to see what her body else wants to do. No matter what party you’re in. I try to work with everybody.

I choose let me know if I’m doing a good job or not because I’m working. I am working for the people. I’m not working for Fred. And I’ve said that for many, many times.

We try to work great for the people. And like I said, it’s a hard job where you can’t make everybody happy all the time.

David Martin: Welcome to a good government show. I’m your host, Dave Martin. On this episode, we’re meeting a true character in county government. We’re traveling to Tucker County, West Virginia, and that’s in northeastern West Virginia. And we’re meeting with County Commissioner Fred Davis. He says he’s the the good commissioner. I put in quotes around that word. Good Commissioner. What that means is he’s the guy who talks to folks in the county and the people in the county.

They know they can always talk to Commissioner Davis. So when you listen, you’ll know he’s he’s not a polished politician and he’s in a rural county in one of the state’s least populated counties. In fact, his campaign that landed him in office was a little unique. And he’s going to tell you about that. But it involves lottery tickets and beer.

And knowing the 6000 people that live in this county. On the serious side, he explains the challenge of running a rural county with a limited budget. And being West Virginia, we talk about coal and a future without the former big coal economy. We may not exactly agree during this part of the conversation, but it’s still a good conversation.

The important thing is we can disagree and we can still talk, but you’ll listen and tell me what you think. So coming up, Tucker County, West Virginia County Commissioner Fred Davis.

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Welcome to the Good Government Show. We are here at the Rural Action Caucus in, the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. And we’ve got a West Virginia county commissioner with us. welcome. Thank you. You’re welcome. Me? So you, you don’t often get to meet characters, true characters in government and county government. And you have certainly been described as that.

and then you told me a little bit about how you got elected. Now, I understand that there were lottery tickets and beers involved in your in your quest to become a county commissioner the first time out.

Fred Davis: Yes. I, decided the lottery was bigger than ever. Yeah. And I went and stood at the door and stood there and gave out my name. Cards. Yeah, I everybody was in line at this convenience store, so I gave 300 cards out that night, and I gave one more. I saw a man at one, and I went up 14 miles into my hometown, finish giving out the other ones.

David Martin: Okay. And that got you elected.

Fred Davis: That helped a lot. Yes. Okay.

David Martin: you were at a convenience store drinking beers and handing out lottery tickets. Yeah. Already heading out. Cards?

Fred Davis: Yeah. Hand now cards. And they’re with everybody. It was really fun.

David Martin: Now, did you buy a lottery ticket?

Fred Davis: I don’t think I did. I,

David Martin: You didn’t.

Fred Davis: No, I don’t think I did.

David Martin: So that was your first election.

Fred Davis: That our first election ever didn’t didn’t have a clue what I was doing. And then, didn’t a lot of people. And I enjoyed it and went right into it head over heels. And there I am. Here I am today.

David Martin: Now, we’ve unfortunately, we’ve jumped into the story before. We introduced you. just, tell the folks, who you are, where you’re from, what your title is or what you’re doing.

Fred Davis: My name is Fred Davis. I’m from Thomas, West Virginia. I’m a county commissioner in Tucker County. There’s three of us, Tucker County.

David Martin: Where is Tucker.

Fred Davis: County? Tucker counties. They’re in West Virginia, up the northern, north east side or West Virginia border. And, we’re about 30 400ft in elevation there. So.

David Martin: Okay, you’re up in the mountains.

Fred Davis: Know in the mountains. And I have, two ski areas and a cross-country ski area. Okay. Two parking is the biggest sled run. The East coast.

David Martin: The biggest sled run.

Fred Davis: Yeah. Ran sleds? Yes, I’ve done it. How?

David Martin: How like, does it feel like you’re on a sled forever.

Fred Davis: Yeah, we go pretty fast. My son put it on the GPS on our phones. See how fast we come off the hill. And we went there. I think we went over 35 miles an hour a couple times even faster. And.

David Martin: Oh, my, that scared me.

Fred Davis: So I had to shut her down.

David Martin: I wonder how fast they go in the bobsled or something like that.

Fred Davis: Oh, I would go a lot faster.

David Martin: Probably a lot faster, right?

Fred Davis: Yes, sir.

David Martin: So do you recommend now, when you were given out, your card said you were drinking beers when you’re, you know, passing out beers as well.

Fred Davis: No beers. No, no.

David Martin: After yourself.

Fred Davis: Yeah. Lovers.

David Martin: All right. not. Do you recommend this as a way to get reelected?

Fred Davis: go to the lottery machines. You’re the your, you know, everywhere that someone would expect you to be. Go there.

David Martin: Yeah.

Fred Davis: And that’s that’s what I recommend is a a say in the you want a reelected anything. You go anywhere and talk to everybody and you go to you go to every brewery, restaurant, church, you go everywhere and you talk to people and, the main thing is go to where a lot of people is, right. You get out there faster and you can talk to people like norm parades.

Most of the time I walk, do the parade instead of going in the parade and giving out my cards where I can talk.

David Martin: People, don’t you want to sit in the back of a of a convertible and wave to the crowd?

Fred Davis: I do that since I won, so I was running. I did the walking part all right.

David Martin: Yes. So now you’re in. Now you’re in the parade. How many times you been elected?

Fred Davis: just been one. I ran one time in just one.

David Martin: Okay.

Fred Davis: And,

David Martin: How far in year term are you this.

Fred Davis: Is a me. This is into my fifth year. So I started in January, all signed up and run again for another six years.

David Martin: All right, now, have you got a campaign strategy campaigns?

Fred Davis: just, be yourself, I tell everybody. Be yourself. Don’t be somebody you’re not. My campaign strategy is talk to people, list everybody. Everybody has different ideas. So I’m not trying to work with their buddies ideas.

David Martin: So why do they call you a character around these parts?

Fred Davis: Little crazy. I talk outside the line most of the time. Okay. we’ll be talking. I’ll talk to you about anything, all right? And it’s just, we have, I’m, I’m a jokester, and I have a good time with, like.

David Martin: All right. And how does that go over at the county commission meetings?

Fred Davis: It does get one time. The, one meeting. I remember I said, I call this place the ghettos this girl was from. Yeah. And I said, I’m just talking. That’s what we do call that here. Yeah. Yeah. Just tell how it is and just move on. That’s it. And I’m the commission they come to, and they like to talk to you because I’ll talk to anybody about any problem, and it makes it good, you know.

But and they talk to me and. Yeah, I’m a jokester about most things. And we’ll talk about serious about things. We gotta be serious. And you don’t have to go no farther. Usually we never bring into a meeting because we take care of before the meeting.

David Martin: All right. I think you said we were talking earlier that you’re the good commissioner.

Fred Davis: Yeah, I’m the. That’s what I say. Well, yeah, they got me. They get you, mister. I’m the one they talk to. And then we had the business man mother, partner. Yeah, he’s the money man. And I’m glad he does. Another guy, he’s the he’s the building man. He, he does all the infrastructure in the building. Part of it.

We all have our, qualifications. We do very well. And, I just I just get the. I’m the ones out in the public all the time talking to people. That’s why I like you said, I’m the character. That’s why I’m the people person.

David Martin: You’re the people? Yeah. What was your. What’s your background before you became a county commissioner?

Fred Davis: I worked in the city of Thomas as a water and sewer. And, did that kind of maintenance work in the city and all that kind of work and picked up trash four hours a week, and and when there wouldn’t be a trash man every day. Because that’s hard work. That’s where I live. It’s called picking it up.

It’s hard working, you know? Yeah.

David Martin: I didn’t want to do any hard work. So county commissioners fired?

Fred Davis: Yeah, I retired from the city and became a full time commissioner. And, I like to commission better. Yes. Today is calling you in the office.

David Martin: All right. It’s your work. no heavy lifting. And,

Fred Davis: Yeah.

David Martin: Does it smell bad?

Fred Davis: I don’t know, it don’t smell. That’s nice.

David Martin: So, what’s going on in Tucker County? What are the issues that you’re dealing with?

Fred Davis: Social issues. The biggest thing that is, like we have an E.M.S. and our fire services, and we have 6000 people, right? At 6000 people in our county.

David Martin: So you are a rural county?

Fred Davis: Yes. We’re very real. And, you know.

David Martin: All 6000.

Fred Davis: People I know. I can promise you, yes, I.

David Martin: Do. Do they all know you?

Fred Davis: Yes, they know me very well. All right. And,

David Martin: Do you give out your cell phone number? Your phone.

Fred Davis: Number? Yes. I give it to you. I give that card I gave you to whoever wants it. They know me so.

David Martin: I can find you any time.

Fred Davis: Now. Oh, yeah. Everybody they know I got. I came out of my house before and had three people meet me, come down the road, doctor me so they know where to find me. All right. But to bring him in, like you’re saying, you want to bring people to Tucker County. You were saying?

David Martin: Well, I was just wondering, you know, what are the issues? What are the challenge issues?

Fred Davis: I’m sorry, sir, that’s.

David Martin: Why I’m here. To keep you on track.

Fred Davis: Yeah. Thank you.

David Martin: We’re here to help.

Fred Davis: Yeah. And, the issues is like we asked you about the 6000 people. We have over a million guest a year. They come in from the DC, Virginia.

David Martin: A million.

Fred Davis: Guests, over a million guests a year come in our county. And when it goes on, do.

David Martin: They all stop by your.

Fred Davis: House? No, thank God, no. They stopped me in my town yesterday. Trust me, they stopped Thomas Davis.

David Martin: Okay.

Fred Davis: But what happens is we have a lot of people come here. Don’t know how to drive in the weather. We have. Okay. Or there’s a lot of hiking and biking and and skiing and there’s a lot of accidents and a lot of people get hurt there and say, like, your mom and get hurt a local person, their name is come and take them.

But if they have a call to go out in the middle of the woods, they get somebody. Your mom is a local person, doesn’t get picked up because we don’t have the funds to keep running them. You know, more aimless here. We’re looking more and more funding through for an emergency services. They get better, pay more equipment cause we’re in Aurora.

We don’t have a lot of money.

David Martin: Yeah.

Fred Davis: So we’re we’ve been asking the governments and stuff like that for more money to fund us, to help this happen. About less than a month ago in our area, I got in our at. We’re in this up in the woods. Yeah. Stuck for like a day and a half out in the woods. And a fire department guy slept with him beside a river.

Yeah, we couldn’t get into him, so they had to bring helicopters in to get this fella the. Get him out. And then four days later, they had another one. They had to bring a helicopter in and get out because they get up there and we don’t have the funding and it just it makes it really tough on us as a small rural area, the support, everything.

We really need this for a million people. We have 6000 people. Yes. You understand what I’m trying.

David Martin: Yeah. How do you handle that? I mean, we have you you’ve got a budget for 6000, but there’s actually a million, right?

Fred Davis: Yes, sir. That’s exactly right. Yeah. So what what do we do? We really. Where are E-m-s? Our fire departments in our county government people. And really and really a lot of local people work very hard together. Them get get people taking care of. Yeah. They go beyond their duties to take care of people. Really? Do we take it to heart?

You know, on that stuff? We really it’s crazy out there in the weekends. We have a little town, Thomas and Davis. There’s two main highways come through and the streets are so narrow that you park on both sides of the road. You can’t get through a town. It’s packed all the time.

David Martin: The Thomas and Davis. You’re Davis, are you? Well,

Fred Davis: I’m from Thomas. My last name is Davis.

David Martin: Okay.

Fred Davis: Yes.

David Martin: All right. I’m sorry I said two separate towns.

Fred Davis: Thomas Davis, miles apart. Oh.

David Martin: There you are. You related to the Davis? The founder?

Fred Davis: That’s what everybody’s asked me many times. No, no, you’re not nothing I know of. All right.

David Martin: Okay. So what? I mean, how do you how do you budget for that? How do you plan for that?

Fred Davis: Well, we do get, some hotel motel tax money that we split between all of our people and then really come.

David Martin: So the county gets all the cities, gets a lot.

Fred Davis: Yeah. So we try to split it up between our the recreational part of the, you know, our community centers, our rec, our fire departments, EMS. We try to help all of them. And with that money just split up. You know, we get, everybody is about 500,000 a year that we get.

David Martin: We’ll leave that to the money, Commissioner.

Fred Davis: Yeah, yeah. That’s right. Yes. That’s right. Mike. Seven years, is it you say? Yeah, but what it is, is, But when a fire truck cost $750,000 without nothing on it in the suit, one fireman costs $14,000. Takes a lot of money. The run a rural fire department. We have four of them in our county. Okay, so it makes it really tough for us.

David Martin: You mentioned, when we were talking before we turn the microphone on, you have the first windmill in West Virginia?

Fred Davis: Yes, sir. We have. They came to, when I was a lot younger. They they brought him in here. I forget, where I was working at the landfill then, and they came back and they start putting windmills up on Backbone Mountain.

David Martin: I’m not sure where.

Fred Davis: On Backbone Mountain this, but. Okay, it’s out there on the mound between Parsons and Thomas.

David Martin: And you’re in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains.

Fred Davis: Yeah, we’re up.

David Martin: Yeah.

Fred Davis: You’re there? Yes. Okay, so they spread them ugly windmills, and I say they’re ugly. I’m against them 100%. They put them all way across the mountains.

David Martin: Yeah. Why are you against them?

Fred Davis: I just take they take the beauty away from our mountains.

David Martin: So beautiful. So just scenic.

Fred Davis: Yeah. Scenic is beautiful. They taking away our beautiful land. That.

David Martin: What about the. What about the power they provide?

Fred Davis: I think it, you want a true feeling, right? Yes.

David Martin: I think you’re having a conversation.

Fred Davis: I think, the wind power is, Well, had nothing back yet, but I say it’s a joke. I don’t like it. Yeah, because my family is all coal miners. Not like the coal pirate stuff.

David Martin: Well, let’s talk about that a little bit. I mean, you know, one of the problems they have in West Virginia now is they this was state was largely, based on a coal economy, right?

Fred Davis: Yeah. Yeah.

David Martin: So that’s and that’s changed. Yes. So what are the things that you’re doing in Tucker County to, you know, replace all those coal dollars and coal jobs?

Fred Davis: Well, now is the most we have one coal mines left.

David Martin: Yeah.

Fred Davis: But that’s one. And we used to have three underground coal mines and like.

David Martin: But the coal severance the money that the county gets from. Yeah. The percentage that you get from the coal that’s extracted, that’s gone way down.

Fred Davis: Yeah. Yeah. We don’t get none now. Very little because the mines we do have goes through another county and they’re getting their coal when they go underground. Is digging down another county. Put it our ground. We get nothing. Well really? That’s sad.

David Martin: Yes, sir. So they they dig underground, dig into your county and you don’t get it.

Fred Davis: So we have a we have a charcoal plant that a lot of our people work at and a power plant. All right. And most of the other people’s tourist or they work in union carpentry and mechanic workers, stuff like that.

David Martin: Are the tourist dollars. Do they come close to matching what the coal dollars work?

Fred Davis: There’s no way. Yeah. When the coal mines is up and running and doing things. Our town was booming. Yeah. You know, we had booming towns. We had, coal mines and we had a lot of lumber mills back in the day when I was younger and stuff. Yeah. Right now we have 6000 people in only one high school back in the day.

Like the little Walton schools, we had like 56 or 70 some schools like that back in the day in Dare County, we had that mean the main wasn’t okay. Now, you used to go to school in Tucker County.

David Martin: Okay.

Fred Davis: So what that.

David Martin: Do you know what the population was at its height.

Fred Davis: Then? These. Oh man, I had that right now. no, I can’t remember.

David Martin: It was a double or triple.

Fred Davis: Oh yeah. Yes. Triple. Yeah. Yeah. Very much. Yeah.

David Martin: Okay.

Fred Davis: Yeah.

David Martin: So why not put a few windmills up and provide wind jobs and, economic.

Fred Davis: Power right now them.

David Martin: And, and you know. Right. Cheap electricity.

Fred Davis: The windmills now have, they hire maybe four people. Okay. I bear in the coal mines. They hired, hundreds of people, maybe. Yeah, but.

David Martin: The coal is not coming back.

Fred Davis: No, that’s.

David Martin: Something.

Fred Davis: That’s sad to say, right? Yes, yes. You’re right.

David Martin: Well, did you work in the coal mines?

Fred Davis: No, man, I know. yeah. All right. There. Why not? This is the truth. My dad. My dad told me that if I worked in the coal mines, he would probably just rather kill me than have to sleep and been worry about me and night underground. The, the, you know, die. The coal mines.

David Martin: Right. All right.

Fred Davis: And and, and I was talking to you last night about it. Yeah.

David Martin: You got a lot of family that worked in the mines.

Fred Davis: Yeah, and I lost four cousins all together, one down, and I think it was Nebraska. He was real young. And then they lost three at the upper Big Branch down in southern part of the state. And all three cousins, a man died and my dad and my uncle were they were they were destroyed over that, you know, them guys.

And that mines happened so. Well, I.

David Martin: Would think you’d be the first guy in line to come up with anything other than coal mine jobs.

Fred Davis: no, I know exactly what you’re saying. Yeah.

David Martin: Have you ever worked in the mines?

Fred Davis: Never worked like I was a security guard in the coal mines. I never I got.

David Martin: To say, you stood up, right by the front door,

Fred Davis: Yeah. And that was a hard job. You. Yeah. Security guard at the union coal mines. Yeah. They were going on strike or whatever. Look out!

David Martin: Yeah, I’m sure, I’m sure.

Fred Davis: Yeah, it’s all good.

David Martin: What things has the county actively done to create, new economies that are non coal?

Fred Davis: The county has.

David Martin: Done. I mean, you talked about tourism a little bit.

Fred Davis: Yeah. And is there.

David Martin: A lot of like trails and RV park trails and

Fred Davis: They are like, like I said about that sled run. That’s all new right. Okay. And Timberline ski area. Yes. Came in, bought my group out of Indiana called Perfect North. They hire a lot of people and that gives a lot of jobs.

David Martin: All right, so there’s stuff going on. Yeah. So what you mentioned, you know, outdoors and you talked about your the skiing. What else do people tend to come to Tucker County for.

Fred Davis: a lot of biking on a Thursday night. They called the Thursday night ride. They come in today was on bikes, probably 70 to 100 bicycle cross-country bikers. They go out mountain bike, no matter how cold, whatever they go out and they do the mountain bike racing, riding, not a race. They go out and ride. if you like to do a lot of hiking or area and a great overlooks in our parks, and then the scenic overlooks going up and down Backbone Mountain and, we have great rivers down in Saint George and Parsons areas that people like to write water raft down through Parson Saint George area.

David Martin: So what’s your activity? What do you do?

Fred Davis: What do I do? Yes, I used to coach for activity. Okay. Now, basketball for okay, 30 some years. And I love that. All right. Yeah. And, back to the I like the most is hunting. I like to go hunting and do things like that.

David Martin: All right. What do you what do you what do you, trap? What do you catch in?

Fred Davis: in back in 95, I killed second biggest black bear in the world. There. In between Thomas and Davis.

David Martin: Really?

Fred Davis: Yeah. and I killed a lot of deer and stuff, and it’s a lot of fun. And I like taking kids to do that kind of stuff. Okay. Yeah, by taking people.

David Martin: I’m not a hunter, but I know people do it. And it was a bear.

Fred Davis: had it mounted into a big rug.

David Martin: You did? Yes, sir. That’s in your home now.

Fred Davis: Yeah. my dad’s in,

David Martin: You’re going to have to send me that picture later.

Fred Davis: Well, I’ll tell you, I’ll send you that picture, but. Good. The bear was in my dad’s on the on, on a bed. All right. And some people broke in on day mom’s house and stole it. Oh, no. Yeah. less than a year after we had, Oh. That’s horrible. Oh, it was. It’s awful. And I wouldn’t know if I ever seen.

There’s a there’s a thing on the things. Yeah, I know where this you.

David Martin: Yes. You keep your eye out for it.

Fred Davis: Oh, yeah. Everywhere I go.

David Martin: All right. So this is the good government show. And we have a questionnaire. And, you’re now that you’re a county commissioner. I do have a question, though. Does picking up garbage, does that prepare you to be a county commissioner?

Fred Davis: It just shows you that I’ll do anything to make a dollar, and I’ll work. And it helps. it shows you that you’re not better than everybody else is. Trash is not, it’s everybody’s job. It just don’t show you that. That’s too good of a job for me. I wouldn’t do that, so. Okay, I would do it.

David Martin: All right. do people, like, love the fact that the guy who used to run the, you know, the the sanitation garage now is the county commissioner.

Fred Davis: And let you know, I still do it every Tuesday for four hours to help my city out. I still go out and help the guys.

David Martin: You do? Yes, I still go down.

Fred Davis: Yes, sir.

David Martin: I people see you.

Fred Davis: They’re taking their blood arm wave at me. Yeah. Yelling out the window.

David Martin: Yes, sir. So they know you’re on the job. Yes, sir. All right. Now, so you have a sort of a unique role in that you worked in. You worked for the county and the city? Yes. for, I don’t know if you can call it a city. Johnson. The town. Yeah. and you’re a county commissioner from where you sit, from your experience, define what good government is.

Fred Davis: Good government is to me, was like, you don’t listen to be a good government person. What I think would be is listen to everybody saying, right or wrong, working for the good, you know, trying to do what’s right for people in the government because some of the choices you gotta make is hard sometimes. Yeah. And, and, I just, I make a lot of choices that, you know, sometimes are hard in the government.

David Martin: Right?

Fred Davis: And it just keeps you going. But you talk. I go talk to people first. You know, if I know coming up what we’re doing and trying to get the feedback to be a better government person by not just doing what Fred wants to do, I trust you. Everybody else wants to do, no matter what party you’re in, I try to work with everybody.

David Martin: So how do you know if you’re doing a good job.

Fred Davis: Being a county commissioner? They’ll let you know very quick. Your phone’s ringing off the hook. Like I said earlier, if three people wait on you coming down the road, you know something’s up when people are chasing you in grocery stores. And,

David Martin: Does that make it hard to go to the grocery store? Or it’s.

Fred Davis: Like, yes, if if we’re in here is a convenience.

David Martin: Store, I get a six pack of beer here.

Fred Davis: Yeah. Here’s my wife’s theory. She goes, if we’re in a hurry. Fresno A lot of years of storing your loaf of bread. Yeah, because a loaf of bread take an hour talking to people about government.

David Martin: Yeah, I bet you talk to a lot.

Fred Davis: Oh, I talk to everybody. Yes.

David Martin: Okay. So how do your. The people of Tucker County, how would you like them. How should they know if they’re getting good government and if and how should they hold you accountable to be a good county commissioner?

Fred Davis: Well like they they come and find you. They need to call me. Yeah. Come to our meetings more. They need to show up and be more involved.

David Martin: I won’t read your number out, you know.

Fred Davis: Oh, yeah. Yeah yeah yeah. Me? Yeah. Any time. Really? Yeah. And is just I expect you to let me know if I’m doing a good job or not because I’m working. I am working for the people. I’m not working for Fred. And I’ve said that for many, many times. And that’s why, they say I’m a good commissioner.

You’re constant. Yeah. And they always. They said they just like me because I know I do like listening to people in the commission I work with. Now, all three of us really listen to what people have to say when they come to us and say, hey, you know, so we try to work great for the people. And like I said, it’s a hard job where you can’t make everybody happy all the time.

David Martin: So if people feel like you’re not doing what they want you to do or you’re you’re the the other commissioners aren’t doing the right thing, what should they do? What would you like them to do?

Fred Davis: They need to come to the meetings and express their concerns to us, and even call us or come and see us, but come to our meetings in the public open meeting and put their concerns out there. Because if we put in the newspaper and if we and people doesn’t see that we’re working for them, then they can make a change.

Yeah. Or they can, questions us on our job.

David Martin: Do they show.

Fred Davis: Up? Yeah, they do show up.

David Martin: Do you have good, good response at the meetings? Do you have good crowds?

Fred Davis: Yes. We’ve had full houses and we down to two people show up. You know, we’ve had full houses.

David Martin: I’m sure part of the thrill is to see what you’re going to say, to do y’all.

Fred Davis: Yes. Yeah. It’s all good. And,

David Martin: You’re quite a character. Have you done anything? non, commissioner. Like at a.

Fred Davis: Meeting? No. Not really. I wait till after it.

David Martin: Okay. Yeah. Does everybody just, like, go out to the bar next door.

Fred Davis: And they’re going to McDonald’s out the door? We got a McDonald’s.

David Martin: All right. Okay. now that you’ve been county commissioner for a few years, what you said this is three years into your term. Yeah.

Fred Davis: Yeah, five, five years.

David Martin: Yeah. Sorry. I’m sorry. So it’s a six year term?

Fred Davis: Yes. Years. Yeah.

David Martin: So in these five years, what would you like people to know about how government works from the inside? What have you learned that you didn’t know before you were in the county commission?

Fred Davis: There’s a lot of things that when I ran, I thought I could do. You can’t do. There’s different things equal. Well, like with money, certain people come and say, we want this money off you use in this match. Well, we’re not we’re hands are tied to where we’re allowed to get moneys and where we can’t. We’re all people things.

You can just do anything in our hand. Everybody has a boss in his heart, even in the commission. You know what I’m saying? There’s always someone telling you what you’re allowed to do with this money. Or do with that money. Yeah. So yeah.

David Martin: So that was a big learning. Yeah.

Fred Davis: Yeah. Because I said wow. Sure. Yeah. We can’t do that. You know different things. Is it frustrating. Oh yeah. When you can’t help somebody. It is. Yes.

David Martin: Now that you’re inside, do you sort of agree with that when folks when they say, oh you can’t do that. Are do you or do you disagree and.

Fred Davis: I don’t like disagree I like to help them more. You know. Yeah. Some of this stuff is little penny penny stuff, you know, that you can really help. But no, you can’t do it. You know, not really upsets me.

David Martin: Okay. So do you have a political hero does or someone who inspired you to get into politics?

Fred Davis: my daughter.

David Martin: Your daughter tells.

Fred Davis: Daughter your oldest daughter? Yes.

David Martin: She. The weather got you to to head out cards in the line for a lot of tickets.

Fred Davis: Yeah. She was, Yeah, she was my campaign manager. She’s a supporter, ever.

David Martin: And she the one that said you. Dad, you should run for county commission. Yes, sir. What was. Why did she say that? What did you. Why did you think that’d be a good thing?

Fred Davis: She already. Because I always was going to run for sheriff. She said you don’t need to be sheriff. You need just run for county commission. I said, okay, I’ll do that. I didn’t know what I was getting into. And then I got into it, and and I paid attention for about a year of it and and watch what went on.

And I said, I’m going to do this.

David Martin: Okay. and you about did you run for sheriff?

Fred Davis: Yeah. It ended up being a shift when the sheriff.

David Martin: All right. And the current sheriff, I’m sure you know him very well.

Fred Davis: Oh, they’re good guys.

David Martin: Yeah. Do you wish you had that job? Are you glad you didn’t take.

Fred Davis: I’m glad he hasn’t. And I’ll make.

David Martin: Yeah. So, you know, you grew up. Did you grow up in Tucker County?

Fred Davis: 58 years. I’m in Tucker County.

David Martin: Yeah. So that’s how you’ve lived your whole life?

Fred Davis: Yes.

David Martin: Did you have any any interest in being a politician when you were a kid? Were you president of the senior class? Did you decide you wanted to?

Fred Davis: Now, I was never Washington.

David Martin: Anything like that.

Fred Davis: No, I never, was nobody, in school, I wasn’t. No, I played sports in school. Yeah. I was all about sports when I was school. No, you played me. I was a my best for. That was our good wrestler. Yeah. And then I played football, too.

David Martin: Okay. Yeah. When you were running back, would you play.

Fred Davis: Down the line?

David Martin: Oh, okay. That was a lot for me to,

Fred Davis: That’s Playland.

David Martin: Yep yep yep. All right. We talked about this a little bit, so I’ve. This is my second trip to West Virginia. I have never been to Tucker County. I’ve got to meet up with you. We’re going to have a few beers and we’re going to have some. We’re going to have some food. What are we eating? Where are we going?

What are we doing?

Fred Davis: Well, you you said you don’t want pizza because you’re from Brooklyn.

David Martin: So, you know.

Fred Davis: It’s very good news radio in Davie. They’re close to me. Hellbenders burrito.

David Martin: Hellbenders burrito.

Fred Davis: Yeah. And then we have.

David Martin: we’re having burritos.

Fred Davis: You may hear. Yes. All right. And then, we go to McDonald’s on Parsons.

David Martin: Now.

Fred Davis: We got two. Good. oh.

David Martin: They’re all the same everywhere. Yes, I want I want some regional West Virginia food.

Fred Davis: Well, yeah, we got, we have a place called Billy’s, restaurant. And then, and then we had the.

David Martin: What is Billy’s make.

Fred Davis: home cooked meals.

David Martin: Okay. And what’s your favorite? Take the other menu.

Fred Davis: Club sandwiches. Okay. Then we had, the the they call it the Grand Slam diner down there. All right. They do great wings. I love their wings and their burgers. All right. Yeah. That there. And they’re they’re really good.

David Martin: Everything in Tucker County that you, you know, don’t find in other places.

Fred Davis: They don’t find another place.

David Martin: Some real West Virginia food, some real like local cuisine.

Fred Davis: Well, the sear on his pizza. And, you know, I knew.

David Martin: They had.

Fred Davis: Their own pizza in Davis. And then there’s, they do a great job that people love to come to the restaurant in there. And then you have a there’s a little, in down there, and Davis, forgetting his name real quick here, but is a little BMX right down the street from there. That does a real good.

People love going there. And they had their breakfast in the morning.

David Martin: All right. Okay. biscuits and gravy.

Fred Davis: Oh, bits and gravy. That’s that’s what you say.

David Martin: That’s what I love, what I would.

Fred Davis: The South Manatee Smokehouse Steakhouse is one dinner, in Cunneen and one in Blackwater State Park. they do very. They do very good barbecue. Yeah. And. Yes. And there’s a new restaurant you would love. All right. It’s called the Billy’s Motel in Davis.

David Martin: The Billy’s motel.

Fred Davis: Motel? Yes.

David Martin: This is that sound like a restaurant?

Fred Davis: Yeah. Billy’s. This place is packed a lot, too. Yeah, we have good food in there because a hike and a bike, they get tired, they’re hungry, they come there, eat and they drink, and they enjoy a podcast.

David Martin: But I should. And neither one of us are small guys, so,

Fred Davis: Yeah, we’re not small. And then I, I won’t tell you this and bring it up. We have a Stumptown Ales, the mixer and brewery.

David Martin: Okay.

Fred Davis: And then Mountain State Brewery, that does their homemade brews and pizza there. And Thomas and Stumptown is in Davis. You know, they would call us Stumptown Ales.

David Martin: And they idea.

Fred Davis: I learned this I said, well they call it that. Well Davis one time you seen pictures of the old days. All you seen was stumps all over the town. They weren’t a tree. there’s.

David Martin: A logging.

Fred Davis: Industry. Yeah, they were all stumps. So they made a custom 10,000. I thought that was pretty cool.

David Martin: All right, so, five years in, give me an example of a good government project you’ve been able to do that’s really made a difference and helped the function. Tucker.

Fred Davis: focus. A lot of my work, like, making sure that our fire nemeses have money and, recreation on our community centers and our little, shelters and stuff like that. Always have money. Because that was that was on my boards. We all have different boards. And that’s what, helped do a lot. I’m proud to say that our county is really laid back, good bunch of people, and it makes it simple to do my job.

Really? Yeah. And, like I said on my part and keeping us financially straight in our county. And being part of that, I’m very proud.

David Martin: That’s Mike’s job. But yeah.

Fred Davis: Yeah. That’s right. Mike. Yeah, I always say that. Mike.

David Martin: Let’s let’s give Mike a little notice. Mike. What’s Mike’s last name?

Fred Davis: Raising our.

David Martin: Mike Rosenbauer.

Fred Davis: Yeah.

David Martin: And he’s he’s your other county commissioner.

Fred Davis: Yep.

David Martin: And he’s so he’s the money guy.

Fred Davis: Yep. And then Tim Knotts is our other fella that he does. he is part of the it helps a lot with the EMS and do all the construction part. because he’s a struction man okay. And we all three work great together and we call ourselves a team. The people we got around us. That’s a great job.

David Martin: That’s good. All right, so, as I said, my, second trip to West Virginia. Tell me the best thing about West Virginia there.

Fred Davis: I went, I go on vacation. Yeah, I stay in West Virginia. everybody laughed at me like, you’re done. But I love it here. Especially in in Tucker County, I love it. I just go on vacation. Where are you going? I said, where else to go if I want to go somewhere else, I live here. Yeah. It’s,

But, West Virginia is totally awesome. They got a lot to offer. It does. We have a little of everything in Brooklyn.

David Martin: We’ll have a pizza right now.

Fred Davis: I would love to come to Brooklyn. Have pizza now, do you get a hillbilly in, Brooklyn? Now, that would be.

David Martin: Funny that with.

Fred Davis: Even they would not in,

David Martin: That would be funny. Freddie Davis, Tucker County commissioner, thank you so much for stopping by. It’s been a pleasure talking with you, and it’s fantastic.

Fred Davis: Meeting you is enjoying meeting you. This has been a fun three days and we’ve had a good time here.

David Martin: Yes, we have. All right. Thank you very much. Thanks for joining.

Fred Davis: Thank you sir. Thank you.

David Martin: What is it the county government does? That’s the question County commissioners get asked the most. And the simple answer is everything on the good government show. We’re so lucky to have talked with so many county commissioners and other county officials that have shown us how effective county government is. County government dates back to get this 1634, making it one of the oldest forms of government in the United States.

Think about it. Roads. Highways, hospitals. Schools, recycling, law enforcement, water, sewers, and most of the county. Those services are maintained by the county that’s county government. The National Association of Counties represents all 3069 counties across the USA. Naco helps county government work better together through things like sharing best practices. When county government works well, well, that’s just good government.

There’s no question that West Virginia is moving towards becoming an outdoor Mecca, with ATV trails, a new national park and sledding trails. It’s looking forward to a future of welcoming guests to Tucker County. So Fred Davis sees a character, right? I told you, but I’ll say this he’s genuine and he cares about his home. And best of all, he’s willing to listen.

So I guess that doesn’t make him a good commissioner. And that’s just another example of good government. Well, that’s our show. Please like us and share us with your friends and our viewers right here. We’re listening and check out our website. Good Government for extras. Join us again for another episode of The Good Government Show and wait listen to podcast.

If you like what we’re doing here. It’s a good government show. Check out our friends at How to Really Run a City podcast. It’s hosted by a couple of smart, hilarious and outspoken former two term mayors. Atlanta’s Kasim Reed and Philadelphia’s Mayor Michael Nutter. Each episode features a different A-list guest sharing their secrets about how to really get stuff done in these urban laboratories we call cities.

Check out How to Really Run a City, brought to you by the nonprofit Philadelphia Citizens and co-hosted by award winning journalist and author Larry Platt. So that’s wherever you get your podcasts. And at the Southern Mafia So thanks for listening. I’m Dave Martin and this is a good government show.

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**This transcription was created using digital tools and has not been edited by a live person. We apologize for any discrepancies or errors.