The West Virginia House of Delegates 37th district was created by the Legislature in the early 1990s to be a “minority influence district.”
It’s a single member district covering all of the flat land and some hill neighborhoods of Charleston north of the Kanawha River, from “the Moose Lodge to North Charleston,” as one delegate hopeful described it.
Since 2009, the district has been very capably represented by Meshea Poore, who is vacating the seat to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Only one Republican, Charles Minimah, is running in the May 13 primary, so come November he is sure to face one of the five Democrats seeking nomination. Those Democrats are former Charleston City Councilman and Bell Atlantic retiree Archie Chestnut, Charleston Democrat Executive Committee Chairman Brad Heflin, Attorney Richard Lindsay, cab driver and professional musician Mike Pushkin, and Charleston City Councilman Robert E. Sheets.
Interestingly, Minimah is also the only minority in the race.
While all the candidates are passionate about their home district, showed in-depth knowledge and offered good ideas during a meeting with the Daily Mail editorial board, the Daily Mail recommends Mike Pushkin in the Democratic primary.
By his own admission, Pushkin is a “fairly unconventional candidate,” which is what makes him a good choice. The West Virginia Legislature is full of conventional delegates and senators, and Pushkin could bring some urban street smarts not normally found in such an assembly. As a taxi driver who works the night shift on Charleston’s tough West Side and East End streets, Pushkin says he knows the district better than most and knows the people he wants to represent.
While he’s unconventional, he’s not to be mistaken for a fringe candidate. He knows the issues and is well versed on policy discussions, referring during the board meeting to last year’s recommendations by the Kanawha County Substance Abuse task force as well as those by the Select Committee on Minority Affairs released 10 years ago.
The 37th district is unique, as it covers the heart of one of the state’s few urban centers and sees issues quite different from many of the state’s mostly rural districts. Electing an unconventional candidate for the district fits right into the plan.