YJ ELECTION PREVIEW

Editor Kaylen Barker examines the key races, with emphasis on issues of greater interest to students.

Congressman Alex Mooney (R) WV — 405 Capitol Street, Suite 514, Charleston, WV 25301 Phone: (304) 925-5964

I reached out to Alex Mooney for an interview but did not receive any comment from himself, his office, or his campaign. The following information is public knowledge and is in no way an endorsement or dissent from Alex Mooney’s campaign for reelection.

Alex Mooney is the incumbent Congressman from the 2nd District. He was relatively unknown in West Virginia until his run for Congress in 2014. Before coming to West Virginia, Mooney was a State Senator in Maryland and the former Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party. In 2012, Mooney planned to run for Congress in Maryland but due to recent redistricting, Mooney decided he could no longer win a Congressional race in that state. He decided to move to Charles Town, West Virginia (which is basically an outlying suburb of D.C.) and run in our 2nd District. Mooney has been called a “carpetbagger” due to the circumstances surrounding his move to West Virginia. 

Alex Mooney has the reputation of “Absent Alex” because of his refusal to meet with constituents but his strict conservative views and seemingly unlimited campaign funds make him a hard candidate to beat. Mooney is feverishly pro-life, against “entitlement programs”, anti-LGBTQ rights, but has yet to take a stance on marijuana reform. He has voted multiple times to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), which is a starkly different stance than his opponent.

Alex Mooney is on board with the Trump Administration, especially in regard to immigration. Mooney’s mother was a Cuban refugee who escaped political imprisonment to come to America. His father’s family were immigrants from Ireland. He has a hardline stance on immigration and border security. 

According to Alex Mooney’s campaign finance report, his top contributors are Franklin Resources (global investment firm), Hsp Direct (direct mail fundraising company), the Los Angeles County Lincoln Club (Republican PAC), and the US Navy. 

Sergent

Talley Sergent (D) WV, P.O. Box 131 Charleston, WV 25321. No Phone Number Listed

I reached out to Talley Sergent for an interview but did not receive any comment from herself or her campaign. The following information is public knowledge and is in no way an endorsement or dissent from Talley Sergent’s campaign for Congress. 

Talley Sergent is a native, sixth-generation West Virginian running in the 2nd Congressional District. Her career began in the office of Senator Jay Rockefeller, then the US State Department where she focused on empowering women and girls around the world. Upon leaving the State Dept. Talley worked at the Atlanta headquarters of The Coca-Cola Company. She was given the opportunity to come back to West Virginia she is now a small business owner in Charleston.

Talley is passionate about the opioid crisis plaguing West Virginia. Having a sister with an addiction problem makes this crisis a personal one for her. That is one of the main policy issues in her campaign. Talley believes there is no accountability for the pharmaceutical companies who flooded our state with opioids, and she wants to change that. In a campaign ad, Talley says “That is why I am running. To stand up for healthcare and for better wages and for a better West Virginia.” 

According to WV Metro News, “Sergent has laid out a three-point plan — “the ABC’s of combating the drug epidemic” — for addressing the opioid crisis. The proposal involves enforcing accountability from drug companies as well as people with addiction and doctors accused of overprescribing opioids, increasing social workers and drug education programs in schools and improving recovery options and private-public partnerships.”

Another theme of Talley’s campaign is the connection to the voters in her district. The current Congressman from WV’s 2nd District, Alex Mooney has a reputation for not showing up and refusing to meet with his constituents. Talley doesn’t work that way. She is out every single day knocking on doors, hosting town hall meetings, participating in community events, and connecting with the voters all over the 2nd Congressional District which spans 17 counties in our state. Talley has been to every, single one. She makes an effort, unlike any previous candidate in that district, to reach out and make connections with the people she hopes to represent.

According to Talley Sergent’s campaign finance reports, her top contributors are the State of West Virginia, Coca-Cola Company, Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, and Kathy Brown Law.

SENATE RACES

Manchin

Senator Joe Manchin (D) WV, 900 Pennsylvania Ave., Ste. 629, Charleston, WV 25302P: 304-342-5855

I reached out to Senator Manchin for an interview but did not receive any comment from himself, his office, or his campaign. The following information is public knowledge and is in no way an endorsement or dissent from Senator Manchin’s campaign for reelection. 

Senator Joe Manchin has been a big name in West Virginia politics for over 30 years. He served from 1982-1996 in the state legislature until he began his term as the West Virginia Secretary of State. He was elected as the 34th Governor of our state in the 2004 election and upon the death of Senator Robert C. Byrd, Manchin won a special election to fill his seat in the US Senate.

Manchin is by far the most conservative Democrat serving in Congress. It is difficult to determine how Senator Manchin will vote on an issue, as he keeps his position on legislation neutral, in most cases, until the floor vote. He voted in 2015 to remove funding for Planned Parenthood but voted to preserve their funding in 2017. He opposed Obama-era energy regulations and voted against the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010. He voted multiple times to protect the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) but voted against the Republican tax-plan in 2017. . Senator Manchin is pro-life, pro-NRA, and anti-EPA. He does not support medical or recreational marijuana legalization in any capacity.

Manchin voted to confirm most of President Trump’s cabinet and judicial appointees. During the confirmation process of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, 18 West Virginia women staged a sit-in on Senator Manchin’s Charleston campaign headquarters. They arrived around 2:00 p.m. and after 10.75 hours and a live-streamed promise from Campaign Manager Mara Boggs that no woman would be arrested due to the sit-in, the 9 remaining women were arrested for trespassing and released at the scene. Manchin then went on to vote in the affirmative to give Kavanaugh a lifelong seat on the United States Supreme Court. 

According to Manchin’s campaign finance report, his top contributors are Capital Group (investment firm), Mylan Inc. (pharmaceutical company), Goldman Sachs (investment banking), and FirstEnergy Corp. (utility company). Mylan Inc. is the pharmaceutical company that Senator Manchin’s daughter is the CEO. Heather Bresch, Manchin’s daughter, increased the price of the EpiPen by over 400% while giving herself a multimillion dollar pay raise. When the controversy sparked, Manchin defended Mylan, even though the move came after the company lobbied for a bill that required schools to have EpiPens on-site.


Patrick.  Morrisey (R) WV,  Morrisey for Senate, Inc. PO. Box 1005, Charles Town, WV  25414304) 729-4083

Morrisey

I reached out to Patrick Morrisey for an interview but did not receive any comment from himself, his office, or his campaign. The following information is public knowledge and is in no way an endorsement or dissent from Patrick Morrisey’s campaign for US Senate.

Patrick Morrisey has become a well-known politician in West Virginia over the last few years. Unlike Senator Manchin, Patrick Morrisey is not a native West Virginian and has only lived in our state for a few years. He began his career as a lawyer and lobbyist in New Jersey where he unsuccessfully ran Congress in New Jersey’s 7th District, only receiving 9% of the vote in the Republican primary. 

Patrick Morrisey was paid $250,000 to lobby on behalf of a pharmaceutical trade group while in D.C. The pharmaceutical group was funded by the same opioid distributors that West Virginia sued for flooding our state with pills and causing the opioid crisis. His wife Denise is also a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. and lobbied(s) on behalf of pharmaceutical companies (mainly Cardinal Health) as well, even lobbying against restrictions on opioids/hydrocodone. 

He came to West Virginia to run for Attorney General in 2012 where he beat Darrell McGraw, a five-term incumbent. In his term as Attorney General, he has filed federal lawsuits on many issues including suing the DEA to release data on opioid sales but placed a hold on the suit after the Trump administration agreed to have the DEA reconsider their aggregate quota system of reporting. He also filed suit against the federal government challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). The lawsuit did not stand up in court and was dismissed. By far his favorite bureaucracy to file suit against is the EPA. Morrisey has filed a number of suits challenging the EPA, especially during the Obama administration. His suit against the EPA in regard to regulation of coal-fired power plants led to a stay in the Supreme Court.

Morrisey, like opponent Joe Manchin is pro-life, pro-NRA, and anti-EPA. Morrisey is also considered one of the most conservative politicians in West Virginia. He is very vocal on his stances, no matter how controversial they are. He does not support medical or recreational marijuana reform in any way. Morrisey is also a vocal ally of the Trump administration, especially when it comes to immigration reform. He aligns strictly to the Republican platform. During the West Virginia teacher strike, AG Morrisey threatened to have striking teachers arrested to squash the work stoppage. His threats were for naught and West Virginia teachers were successful.

According to Patrick Morrisey campaign finance reports, his top contributors are the Senate Conservatives Fund (PAC), Alliance Resource Partners (mining company), Steptoe & Johnson (law firm), and King & Spalding (international law firm).

State Legislature 

G

Ed Gaunch (R) WV

ed.gaunch@wvsenate.gov

Capitol Office: 
Room 217W, Building 1
State Capitol Complex
Charleston, WV 25305
Capitol Phone: (304) 357-7841

I reached out to Senator Gaunch for an interview but did not receive any comment from himself, his office, or his campaign. The following information is public knowledge and is in no way an endorsement or dissent from Senator Gaunch’s campaign for reelection. 

Ed Gaunch is the incumbent State Senator from West Virginia’s 8th District. He is a West Virginia State University alumna. He is a retired Insurance CEO and the Republican incumbent State Senator from the 8th District.

Key votes during Ed’s time in the WV Legislature include voting in favor of SJR 12, the joint resolution that led to Amendment 1 that would eliminate WV Constitutional rights to abortion. He is pro-life, pro-NRA, and anti-EPA. During the 2018 Legislative Session, Senator Gaunch voted in favor of a bill that would allow out-of-state gas companies to drill on private property through forced leasing or “co-tenancy”. 

Gaunch also voted against the teacher pay raise bill and during a meeting with WV teachers to discuss their concerns over the rising costs of PEIA, Senator Gaunch told them he did not care what they thought of him. He went on to tell them that they could vote him out and he would go back to his “cushy” life. During a meeting with the WVSU Political Science Society and Pre-Law Association during the teacher’s strike, he told students that the halls full of teachers were “really bringing down the energy in the building”.

According to campaign finance reports, his top contributors by industry are insurance/real estate, energy and natural resources, construction, transportation, and healthcare/pharmaceuticals.

Lindsey

Rich Lindsay (D) WV

505 Nancy Street, Charleston, WV 25311

(304) 539-6562

Rich Lindsay is running for State Senate in West Virginia’s 8thDistrict against incumbent Ed Gaunch. I spoke with Rich via telephone to discuss issues that are important to students. These are his answers. 

How do we keep young people from leaving our state?

Rich believes we need to diversify our economy to bring in good paying jobs. He wants to explore ways to incentivize students to get public sector jobs and pay down student loans for students who choose to work in West Virginia. “Another problem we have here in WV is our minimum wage is $8.75 an hour and that is hardly enough to live on. Folks that make that wage still qualify for Medicaid and SNAP benefits and that shouldn’t be the case, so we should invest more and require companies to pay their employees between $12-$15 an hour. I think that would go a long way to keeping people here in WV. Students just have to have a reason to stay here.”

What would you like to see our economic future look like in West Virginia?

“We need to diversify our economy, that means diversifying our energy resources. Coal has been #1 for West Virginia for so long and coal will continue to play some part in our economic background with the natural resources industry, but it’s become a smaller and smaller part. Not because of anything that anyone has done, just as a consequence of the international market. It’s just a dying industry, unfortunately. Rich wants to see our natural resource companies hire West Virginia workers and wants more companies to put up shop here to get our economy going, especially in the renewable energy sector. “We are a state known for providing all of this energy for the 20th century, let’s take that a step further.” Rich also discussed how WV has a broadband access issue and touched on a bill from North Carolina that allowed rural areas to lease their internet access to private entrepreneurs. He believes it would be a great idea for our state to implement a plan like this to open access to internet connection until we are able to solve the accessibility issue permanently. 

In what ways do you think that West Virginia is failing to deal with the root causes of the opioid epidemic?

The failure is the fact that the state has done nothing. There are not enough beds in the area for rehab. There is not enough short-term, there is no long-term care. There has been no plan put together. The Office of Drug and Policy was created by the legislature a year ago and were supposed to issue a report in July. They have failed to issue a report. It has been a failure of leadership down from the governor to the legislature. We need rehabilitation…a program with 60-90 days of rehab then 60-90 days of gaining a skill or trade while under the care of addiction caregivers to get out of the mess that put you there to begin with.Education is another key to this issue”

What do you think are the 3 biggest concerns for WV college students?

“Having a reason to stay here by way of jobs, the opioid epidemic, and making sure our education system allows for diverse degree programs…for an affordable price.”

What are your views on cannabis reform and the medical cannabis bill in West Virginia?

“We should have medical marijuana in this state at the very least. We need to provide that for people who are suffering from tremendous pain, whether it be physical or mental like PTSD. We should have that available to folks, no doubt about it. We should see how that goes and eventually get to a point where marijuana is decriminalized and made available for profit. We shouldn’t do anything to discourage that economy”

What advice do you have for West Virginia college students?

“Enjoy the education you are receiving and think about how it can work for you. Try to find a reason to stay here. WV is a wonderful state and anything that isn’t working here will only get worse if our young people go away. In order to make change, we have to have a strong, vocal and rooted group of young folks, especially with college educations.”

According to campaign finance reports, Rich Lindsay’s top contributors are WV Federation of Teachers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, WV Building and Construction Trades Council, WV AFL-CIO, and WV Education Association.

Capito

Moore Capito (R) WV


PO Box 2788
Charleston, WV, 25330 
Home Phone: (304) 552-8986

moore.captio@wvhouse.gov

I reached out to Delegate Capito for an interview but did not receive any comment from himself, his office, or his campaign. The following information is public knowledge and is in no way an endorsement or dissent from Delegate Capito’s campaign for reelection. 

Moore Capito comes from a West Virginia Republican political dynasty. His grandfather was former West Virginia Governor Arch Moore who fell from grace amidst five felony corruption charges. His mother is West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito. I have tried researching Moore’s current plans for West Virginia, but his campaign page only has options to volunteer and donate money. 

Moore’s time in the WV Legislature include voting in favor of SJR 12, the joint resolution that led to Amendment 1 that would eliminate WV Constitutional rights to abortion. He also, like most of his Republican colleagues, voted in favor of the “co-tenancy” bill that allows oil/gas drilling on private property. He is pro-life, pro-NRA, anti-EPA and sticks to a strict Republican platform and falls in line when leadership sets a precedent. 

According to campaign finance reports, Moore Capito’s top industry contributors are Marathon Petroleum Corp., FirstEnergy Corp., WV State Farm Agents, AEP (American Electric Power), and Murray Energy.

Andrew Byrd (D) WV
868 Whispering Way
South Charleston, WV 25303

(304) 344-4460 cell
Andrew.byrd@wvhouse.com

Delegate Andrew Byrd is running for the House of DelegatesWest Virginia’s 35th District. I spoke with Delegate Byrd via telephone to discuss issues that are important to students. These are his answers.

How do we keep young people from leaving our state?

Andrew Byrd believes that attracting young people takes a diverse economy and incentives to stay in West Virginia. Heintroduced legislation to have your student loan interest deducted from your state income taxes. He also got the WV 1sttime home buyers credit passed that gives first time homebuyers a $5,000 tax credit for buying a home in West Virginia. He went to Colorado on his own dime to see what they are doing to attract young people and new industries. He learned they are investing heavily in developing their technology industry. According to the WV Commerce Department, we lose about 2,400 people with tech degrees every year. Delegate Byrd wants increase access to broadband so that WV can become the tech hub of the east coast and make WV the “Little Silicone Valley”. He believes that we need to look to more progressive states to see how they are attracting young people and capitalize on the tech industry that is booming in our country.

What would you like to see our economic future look like in West Virginia?

“Diversified. We cannot rely on natural resources forever. Expand on what we have but bring in new industries.” Byrd wants to see byproducts of coal and natural gas be used in the production of elements of computers. He believes we need to bring back our petrochemical companies. “I see WVSU as being a leader in developing Chemical Engineering programs in WV in conjunction with the petrochemical companies.” Delegate Byrd states that diversification of our economy is the most important thing for improving our economic future. 

In what ways do you think that West Virginia is failing to deal with the root causes of the opioid epidemic?

According to the DHHR, 270 million opioid pills were shipped into WV in 2017. During the last legislative session, Delegate Byrd introduced a bill that would tax pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors $0.10 on every single pill before it could be shipped to West Virginia to hold these companies responsible for their role in this epidemic. There was a provision in the bill that kept the companies from pushing the tax off on consumers and if they did, they would be investigated by the Attorney General’s office. The bill was killed by the Republican leadership despite the $27 million a year in revenue that was to be used to fund treatment facilities.

What do you think are the 3 biggest concerns for WV college students?

“No diversity in the economy, not just jobs but in terms of things to do and places to shop. Definitely, the opioid crisis and then student loan debt are the issues I hear about most often from young people.” 

What are your thoughts student loan debt repayment?

Delegate Byrd agrees that tuition has increased at an alarming rate. He has introduced legislation to help with that by way of income tax deductions. He would also like to work toward a program where student loan debt can be paid down or forgivenafter 5-10 years of working and making loan payments on time. 

What are you most proud of from your time in the legislature?

A few years ago, there was an incident at Montrose Elementary where kids got sick from carbon monoxide poisoning. Delegate Byrd passed a bill that ensured that all school both private and public, including daycare centers had working carbon monoxide detectors to protect WV children. 

What are your views on cannabis reform?
Delegate Byrd supported the medical cannabis bill that passed during the last legislative session. He was part of the group of legislators who moved that the bill be brought to the floor for a vote when the Republican leadership tried to kill the bill. 

What advice do you have for West Virginia college students?

“Do not get down. Stay focused. Live your life and make sure you have a direct impact on where you live. Get involved in politics. A lot of people just look at what’s on tv and turnaroundfrom it. What I would rather see young people do is take a step right into it. If you’ve got the time and you’ve got the ability to be involved in the political process, do it. The only way we as a nation and as a state are going to proceed forward in a positive manner is for young people to get involved. This is your country and your state, get involved!”

Delegate Byrd wanted me to include this statement: “A lot of politicians forget that their number one job is to serve their constituents. They get to the Capitol and forget that. I am always accessible and available. If you ever want to talk about politics or life, just give me a call or send me email.”

According to campaign finance reports, Delegate Byrd’s top contributors are: WV Building and Construction Trades Council, Operating Engineers Local 132, Bobby Warner, WV Federation of Teachers, WV AFL-CIO, and Kanawha Federation of Teachers.

Pore

Renate Pore (D) WV
916 Ridgemont 
Charleston, WV 25314
(304) 444-9681

I reached out to Renate Pore for an interview but did not receive any comment from herself or her campaign. The following information is public knowledge and is in no way an endorsement or dissent from Renate Pore’s campaign for the West Virginia House of Delegates.

According to her campaign website, “Renate is a retired public employee, a mother and grandmother. For the past 20 years, she has led the fight to expand health care coverage for West Virginia’s families. Renate’s priority for West Virginia is investing in people through education and health care. A healthy and educated population is the foundation for addressing all other issues such as expanding the economy and growing the tax base.

Renate’s campaigns priorities are: High-quality public education system including pre-school, affordable college tuition, quality affordable healthcare for all West Virginians, programs to fight the opioid epidemic, and expansion of broadband.

Renate is pro-choice, supports campaign contribution limits, is pro-cannabis legalization, and supports increased funding for education and teachers. Renate also believes in stricter background checks for gun sales and believes a license should be required to own guns. 

According to Renate’s campaign finance reports, her top contributors are: WV Building and Construction Trades Council, West Virginia Association of Justice, WV Federation of Teachers, WV Appalachian Laborers District Council, and WV AFL-CIO.

Nelson

Eric Nelson Jr. (R) WV

103 Abney Circle

Charleston, WV 25314

(304) 343-5156

nelson@wvhouse.gov

I reached out to Delegate Nelson for an interview but did not receive any comment from himself, his office, or his campaign. The following information is public knowledge and is in no way an endorsement or dissent from Delegate Nelson’s campaign for reelection. 

Eric Nelson’s career has been in the financial consulting/management industry. He has been a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates since 2010 and is running for reelection in the 35th District. Delegate Nelson is pro-life, pro-NRA, and anti-EPA. During his time in the legislature, Delegate Nelson has voted in the following way: He voted in the affirmative on a bill that would allow out-of-state gas companies to drill on private property through forced leasing or “co-tenancy”. He also voted in favor of SJR12, the joint resolution that led to Amendment 1 that would eliminate WV Constitutional rights to abortion. Delegate Nelson also voted against teachers during the WV teacher’s strike. He sticks to every position of the Republican party and falls in line when leadership sets a precedent. Nelson is pro-coal, oil, gas, and timber industry. According to his campaign website, Nelson supports broadband infrastructure expansion and the reduction of excess taxes on West Virginia citizens.

According to Nelson’s campaign finance report his top contributors are Norfolk Southern Corp. Good Government Fund, CitiGroup PAC, Coca-Cola Consolidated Employee Committee for Good Government, Nextera Energy, and Enterprise Holdings PAC.

Lane

Charlotte Lane (R) WV

311 Shawnee Circle
Charleston, WV, 25304 
Home Phone: (304) 964-1159

Charlotte.lane@wvhouse.gov

Charlotte Lane is running for reelection the House of Delegates in West Virginia’s 35th District. I spoke with Charlotte and discussed issues that are important to students. These are her answers.

How do we keep young people from leaving our state?

Delegate Lane believes we need to make sure we have an atmosphere for new jobs and grow existing companies to hire more West Virginians. She also states that we need to embrace diversity and that young people prefer communities where diversity is embraced. She thinks we need a strong economy, “The Republican lead legislature has well for the work environment.” Delegate Lane advocates for making students aware of the advantages to living in West Virginia; cost of living, commute times, etc. She wants WV to build a program that incentivizes students to stay in our state with a loan repayment program.

What would you like to see our economic future look like in West Virginia?

“Booming with coal and natural gas continuing to prosper, more alternative energies developed, and financial assistance provided for Community and Technical College workforces.”

In what ways do you think that West Virginia is failing to deal with the root causes of the opioid epidemic?

“We have passed enough criminal laws and we now have a drug education and diversion programs in our K-12 education system. We need to focus now on funding for treatment facilities and work on building a stronger economy.”

What do you think are the 3 biggest concerns for WV college students?

“The cost of higher education, finding a good job, and the opioid crisis.”

What are you most proud of in your time at the legislature?

Delegate Lane was part of the group of legislators that voted to bring the medical cannabis bill to the floor for a vote when the Republican leadership tried to kill it. She agrees that there are still issues with the bill and the reason is poor leadership in the House of Delegates. She is proud to have voted for that bill and said she would fight in the next session to fix those issues and make it a better program for WV. She is also proud of the judicial amendment on the ballot on Nov. 6 that would give the legislature oversight of the judicial budget. Delegate Lane is also pleased with the road bonds that passed during the last legislative session to make improvements on our road systems. 

What are your views on cannabis reform and the medical cannabis bill in West Virginia?

Delegate Lane supports medical cannabis including the right to grow your own plants with a medical cannabis card. They lost that battle in the last session, but she hopes the issue will be fixed next session and would proudly vote in the affirmative to such action. She is not willing to go further in terms of legalization of cannabis. Medical is all she will support.

What advice do you have for West Virginia college students?

“One thing I want young people to know is that West Virginia will elect women to office and we want more young women running. Get people involved in politics in college and VOTE!”

According to campaign finance reports, Delegate Lane’s top contributors are FirstEnergy Corp., Wild and Wonderful, Pack Lawrence, Marathon Petroleum Corp, and the Eric Nelson Jr. Campaign Committee.

Robinette

James Robinette (D) WV
2731 Riverside Drive
St. Albans, WV 25177
(304) 941-5181

James Robinette is running for the West Virginia House of Delegates in the 35th District. I spoke with James via telephone to discuss issues that are important to students. These are his answers.

How do we keep young people from leaving our state?

James believes that we need more jobs in our state but not just jobs, careers with a living wage. He would like to see our natural gas and chemical industries grow and employ West Virginia workers, not out of state workers. James notes that many people want to build their lives in a place that has a strong education system and our is lacking due to low funding. “People leave West Virginia because they can better themselves elsewhere. You can go across the border, like teachers and make $10-$15,000 more a year. We just don’t have those kinds of wageshere.”

What would you like to see our economic future look like in West Virginia?

James would like to see our economy diversified. He says our economy is based off coal and has been for generations. He believes that coal will always be part of WV but we have the potential for alt energies, green tech, hemp, agriculture, and especially cannabis as a major part of our economy. James said“We have to be open to new ideas.” James would also like to see a major airport development close to Charleston. We agree there are opportunities lost because of a lack of access to the world. “A lot of our land has been stripped so why not develop it.”

“I am sick and tired of seeing everybody else profit off the back of West Virginians. We have provided this country with untold fortunes but, yet we have one of the highest poverty rates in the nation…something has to change there. The companies don’t give back to the state. We cannot have our entire economy based on natural resources.”

In what ways do you think that West Virginia is failing to deal with the root causes of the opioid epidemic?

“Our legislators are still bowing down to the very people who created this mess. Money is influencing how the opioid crisis is being handled in this state. No one wants to hold anyone accountable for this. We need to hold these companies accountable. The money isn’t trying to help people in this state, they are funding the opposition. They do not care about the people of WV.” He believes that it is not only an opioid epidemic but also a public health issue.

What do you think are the 3 biggest concerns for WV college students? 

“Employment/low wages, opioid epidemic, the economy and where the state is going. We are one of the poorest states, but our legislators are the 3rd highest paid in the country. There is so much corruption in our state and it’s been going on for generations.”

What are your thoughts on the cost of higher education and access to it?

He believes it is absolutely ridiculous how expensive college is. “People in WV, like teachers, get four-year degrees but then only make $36,000 a year. You’re in debt for the rest of your life to make wages in our state that aren’t sustainable. The return on your investment is so low in our state for people with college degrees, that is why so many people leave. We have to change that.”

What advice do you have for West Virginia college students?

“Be honest no matter what. Speak your mind and stay humble. Be true to yourself and everything else will be alright. Keep your chin up!” 

According to campaign finance reports, James Robinette’s top contributors are WV Building and Construction Trades Council, WV Appalachian Laborers District Council, WV Federation of Teachers, WV AFL-CIO, and WV Education Association.


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