Health board president resigns amid heated Charleston mayor’s race

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Longtime Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health President Brenda Isaac has decided to resign her position following a controversy linked to the mayor’s race in Charleston.

Brenda Isaac

Isaac said she informed Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper Wednesday morning that she would be sending him a letter of resignation, ending her 16 years on the board, the last 12 as president.

“Through some of my missteps, unfortunately, I have become a lightening rod and maybe if I’m not there they’ll realize that the health department is there to improve the health of Kanawha County, which we have done,” Isaac told 580 WCHS Radio News.

Isaac sent an email earlier this year to other health board members supporting Democrat Amy Goodwin in the mayoral election. A move that has been heavily criticized by Charleston Mayor Danny Jones and others.

“It was a very grievous mistake on my part to mention a candidate’s name in an email to the board, which is a public email,” she said. “I very much regretted that, which I stated at the time.”

A report by WCHS-TV Tuesday focused on more emails from Isaac to a number of people from her Kanawha County school system email account also focused on the election.

“I certainly won’t do that again,” Isaac said Wednesday. “I feel very much harassed that those were pretty much private emails that were made public.”

Jones, who supports Republican J.B. Akers, the city clerk, in the mayor’s race, said Isaac should have already resigned.

Danny Jones

“It’s about time and it should have happened a long time ago,” Jones, host of WCHS Radio’s 580 Live said Wednesday. “The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department nor the Kanawha County School Board should be used as a platform to electioneer from to help a candidate get elected.”

Isaac blames Jones.

“This is what Mayor Jones wanted. He wanted me to resign. He’s been out to get that for a long time,” she said.

Jones said he didn’t send the emails, Isaac did.

“The emails point to her, her own emails, her own writing,” Jones said. “If you see her emails she was electioneering to help her candidate, Ms. Goodwin, get elected. You can check my emails.”

Much of the controversy is over the health department’s defunct needle-exchange program which the Jones administration was able to stop. Jones has said Isaac wants Goodwin to be mayor to restart the controversial program. Isaac said again Wednesday the program is dead.

The county commission will appoint Isaac’s replacement. Jones said he wants a few guarantees.

“We need a pledge not to bring Doctor Brumage (former health director Michael Brumage) back to Charleston to have any part in the activities of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and also to never again involve the health department in the facilitation and dispensing illegal, controlled substances,” Jones said.

Isaac said the attention needs to get off her and back on the health department and its board that she says has accomplished a lot during the last several years to improve the health of the county.

“I need to continue to devote as much time as possible as the lead school nurse in Kanawha County and I don’t want to bring any sort of unwanted publicity on the school system either,” Isaac said.

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