Voters in Kanawha County’s 35th House of Delegate District, both Republican and Democrat, have many good choices for candidates. The four-member district encompasses parts of Charleston south of the Kanawha River, and all of South Charleston, Dunbar, Institute, St. Albans and part of Nitro.
In the May 13 primary election, nine Democratic candidates are vying for the four slots to be on the November general election ballot. Those candidates are:
Andrew Byrd of South Charleston, John Caudill IV of St. Albans, Thornton Cooper of South Charleston, David S. Harless of Charleston, Bobbie Hatfield of South Charleston, Bret Nida of Charleston, Joe Wallace of Charleston, Gary Winter of St. Albans, and Sherri Wong of Charleston.
Candidates who attended the Daily Mail editorial board meeting, which were all but Harless and Wallace, showed a strong passion, knowledge of and commitment to the area. Each would make a sincere and hard-working legislator.
For the Democratic primary, the Daily Mail recommends:
Sherri Wong, who with her late husband Robert, established the Bridge Road Bistro in Charleston. As a successful entrepreneur, Wong is a no-whining small business employer who has a lot of strong ideas about government, citizen and corporate accountability. With a son in college and one in high school, plus a growing restaurant operation employing 60, one would think Wong is too busy to serve in the Legislature, but, as she said, “You ask a busy person to get things done.”
Andrew Byrd is a young fresh face with good ideas and a desire to be a proactive leader for change. He wants to help young college graduates like himself have reason to stay in West Virginia, and is one of few candidates to urge caution about unintended consequences of well-intentioned laws.
Thornton Cooper is the bookish, nerdy, yet extremely intelligent legal and constitutional scholar who knows West Virginia’s history and laws inside and out. Retired from the Public Service Commission, Cooper’s legal expertise and sense of realism could help keep the Legislature from drafting legislation that doesn’t belong.
John Caudill repeatedly focused on the need for legislators to understand what they are voting on before passing legislation -- a radical thought, for sure. Retired from Kroger and a St. Albans City Councilman and a veteran of many commissions, Caudill shows seasoned experience that could be helpful as a lawmaker.