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35th District

(Kanawha County)Four seats are up for election. The top four vote recipients in each party will advance to the November general election.

Republican PrimaryBrady A. Campbell

Education: West Virginia University, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree; WVU College of Law, juris doctor

Occupation: Commercial insurance agent and attorney

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: To diversify West Virginia’s economy I would offer heavy incentives and temporary tax breaks to industries such as technology, manufacturing, and communications to relocate and build in our state. Our geographic proximity to much of the country’s population coupled with our low property and labor costs are appetizing to industries seeking a motivated workforce.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: To better improve our state and national crisis response to viral outbreaks, I would support legislation that offers tax credits to manufacturing facilities producing items now primarily produced overseas and deemed essential to protecting our populace. Such industries include those making medical protective equipment, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and household items necessary to maintain community life and health. Tax credits allow industries unable to compete with foreign manufacturers to remain profitable thus minimizing the chances of out-sourcing and ensuring a safer, more prepared United States in the event that manufacturers in other countries were unable to fulfill demand for a life and health product.

Larry Pack

Education: West Virginia Institute of Technology, bachelor’s degree

Occupation: CEO, Stonerise Healthcare

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: The COVID-19 pandemic has been a very unique and unexpected challenge for our economy. Most urgently, I think the question will be “how do we rebuild our economy” and what can we do to ensure a thriving business climate in West Virginia? If elected, I will advocate for legislation that helps small businesses and provides relief for those who have financially suffered as a result of COVID-19. I will also work to create a business climate that entices out-of-state businesses to come to West Virginia. Additionally, while not a new topic, we must continue to work toward broadband connectivity for all West Virginians. If we want to keep our young people here and encourage economic development, quality internet service is a non-negotiable. We must also work to create an environment that fosters entrepreneurship. I have been a small business owner for more than four decades and I understand the challenges of doing business in this state. As a member of the House of Delegates, I will be a champion for a healthy business climate.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: In my current role as CEO of Stonerise Healthcare, I have been on the front lines of managing the COVID-19 pandemic for our state’s most vulnerable population — our seniors. Stonerise Healthcare offers innovative health care solutions to seniors throughout West Virginia within 17 skilled nursing facilities, nine home health locations and employs more than 3,000 health care providers. Together, we have worked tirelessly to keep our patients and employees safe and healthy. Throughout this crisis, I have been impressed with the response and collaboration of our medical community, hospital systems and local and state health officials. Once we overcome this challenge, we must bring together all stakeholders who responded to this crisis to outline what worked and what didn’t work, document lessons learned and examine how we can be better prepared in the future. The COVID-19 crisis has rapidly evolved and we have been forced to adjust to daily unknowns and findings. I view this challenge as an opportunity to reflect, learn and prepare. I believe brighter days are ahead. We will emerge as a stronger state and nation because of it.

Incumbent Moore Capito and candidates Trevor Morris and Chris Stansbury did not return questionnaires from the Gazette-Mail.

Democratic PrimaryDoug Skaff Jr. (Incumbent)

Education: West Virginia University, bachelor’s degree and master’s degree; honorary doctorate in public service/administration from West Virginia State University

Occupation: Managing Partner — Building & Remodeling Warehouse

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: We need to not only diversify our economy but also our workforce. We must be creative in legislation to incentivize our professional graduates for staying in West Virginia, like no state income taxes for recent graduates who stay in state for five years. Incentives for entrepreneurs and small business startups. By creating legislation that keeps and attracts young professionals here more companies may locate here. As far as the economy goes, we must quit kicking the can down the road on cannabis. This industry is booming across the country and we had a chance to be among the first, and now could end up being last if we don’t capitalize on the economic impact of cannabis. We must make tourism a top priority and introduce legislation that creates a full-time funding stream to advertise our state all across the world. We must quit focusing on the jobs of yesterday. Instead of just unloading tax breaks for out of state companies, give them to those who bring a new technology or new industry to West Virginia that isn’t here now. If they hire a certain amount of people, then they would eligible for incentives.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: The time to prepare for a crisis is not after it occurs. We must prepare way in advance. Communication is the key. We need to have protocols and an emergency response team in place, with a clear point person in charge. Have hot lines available with multiple people answering the lines to help get people information they need. Also allow people to text their phone number to one location to register for instant updates via their phone, similar to an Amber Alert. We must do a better job communicating and initiating outcomes with our neighboring states and work together on solutions. We must be proactive rather than reactive. Every day all elected officials are called on for answers and we could use them as real time responders to the people of West Virginia if they were giving the information to be helpful. Being a small state, we should not leave the interpretation up to each town and county and individuals on how to handle things like school closures, feeding children and employee safety. We must give precise, concrete direction and not leave anything for misinterpretation. And finally do not give a false sense of panic and utilize press conferences more wisely.

Devin Joseph Casey

Education: Marshall University, bachelor’s degree

Occupation: Carpenter

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: I will support legislation aimed at encouraging entrepreneurs to open local businesses. Tax policy should favor businesses that are headquartered in West Virginia. Government entities should be using West Virginian-made products and services. There are many job opportunities that will be available if we support local agriculture. We should be producing the things we consume on a daily basis. I would like to see schools, governmental entities, and hospitals using locally produced food products.

I will support legislation to improve our schools. We need facilities that are up to date and teachers need to be paid more. Our children need to be better prepared for the real world challenges they will face as adults. I will support legislation that protects and empowers West Virginians.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: As we face uncertainty and crises in the future, it is important to have a strong local supply chain. We must be more self-sufficient as an economy. We are far too dependent on outside sources for the things we need for survival. We must loyally support the entrepreneurs willing to take the risk and produce things we need. A diverse local economy will ensure West Virginians can weather any storm.

Kathy Ferguson

Education: University of Maryland-College Park, bachelor’s degree

Occupation: Self-employed in real estate management

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: West Virginia won’t experience a reduction in poverty, have sustained growth or strong entries into the global economy without simultaneous efforts that invest in our human capital. By this I mean equal attention to our health care outcomes and educational systems. It will remain a difficult task to keep and attract young, upwardly mobile families here with the abysmal rating we have in these areas. This must change. Additionally, the lack of reliable public transportation is a growing disadvantage in attracting new businesses and a younger workforce. West Virginia must be willing to invest in a workforce that values their mobility and freedom of movement.

It is in this vein that I advocate for a regional airport, recognizing its importance in diversifying our economy. A regional airport will allow for increased competition, lends itself to the development of associated businesses, will grow significant number of union jobs and better allows entrepreneurs to operate and interface in a global economy. Lastly, it contributes to increased tourism and participation in the outdoor/recreation activities West Virginia offers.

Additional thoughts include expanding broadband, looking at solar energy and robotic/A.I. as sources of future manufacturing jobs, and revamping our tax structure to attract retirees interested in small business creation.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: Accurately informing the people is paramount. Leaders are using terms interchangeably which creates confusion. For example, “sheltering in place,” “lockdown,” “social distancing” and “social isolation.” Language should be uniform, consistent, understandable and properly explained.

We need to ensure that youth are taught and encouraged to follow official mandates and to understand the resulting consequences when there is poor compliance. Educational seminars taught in schools would be reminiscent of cold war drills or active shooter drills.

Any unused, reusable PPE, ventilators or associated equipment should be doled out to the National Guard of each state and maintained for hospital/community relief during future catastrophes. If there is no overage, then the state should commit to purchasing and stockpiling in advance.

FEMA/DHS community block grants should be available to rural jurisdictions towards crisis preparedness and contingency planning. Grants would require participation by local municipal or volunteer fire departments.

The National Emergency Broadcast/Text System should be utilized for nationwide updates and information. That’s the best way to ensure everyone understands the basic processes of what’s happened, action required, current guidelines/regulations and best practices.

All first responders and essential employees should be provided care kits and be eligible for hazard pay or pay differentials when activated.

Patti Hamilton

Education: West Virginia University, bachelor’s degree and master’s degree

Occupation: Retired in 2017 after 20 years as executive director of the West Virginia Association of Counties; previously employed at Public Service Commission

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: Everyone agrees that, just as interstate highways were the key to economic development in the past, the information superhighway is the key to the economic development of the future. We must recognize, however, that as a state with limited resources, there’s only so much we can spend to improve broadband infrastructure on our own. That’s why I’ll push to convene a “broadband summit” with internet providers, both wireless and wired, to see how West Virginia can most effectively partner with the private sector to speed broadband development in our state.

Tourism remains the great untapped natural resource of West Virginia. Simply spending money to market West Virginia as a tourist destination is not enough. We must re-brand West Virginia by pursuing National Park status for either the New River Gorge area, the Monongahela National Forest, Blackwater Canyon or some other area unique to the Mountain State. The fact is, National Parks bring tourists, and tourists bring dollars. The most visited National Park in the nation is not the Grand Canyon, or Yellowstone — it’s the Great Smokey National Park in eastern Tennessee and it has that status because of its proximity to the population centers on the eastern seaboard. The park, which is roughly analogous in size to the Mon National Forest, brings in some $750 million a year to Tennessee and employees around 13,000 workers. That would be a game changer for West Virginia. The Legislature should authorize a study of the economic impact of a national park in West Virginia.

Decades ago some visionaries in North Carolina had the idea to create a high tech research park (RTP) that allowed the state’s flagship universities to leverage their combined strengths to offer businesses and corporations a competitive resource as an incentive to invest in their state. Today, the RTP is home to more than 300 companies that employ more than 55,000 workers. These companies include GlaxoSmithCline and Cisco Systems among others. We should look for ways to replicate that model using Marshall and WVU as anchor institutions.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: Since this particular crisis arrived in the midst of election season, we should consider moving to a vote by mail system.

In the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, we need to make sure that tax reforms and incentives are targeted to working families and small businesses. These are the segments of our society that have been hit the hardest and can afford it to least. Getting small businesses and workers back on their feet will be the key to stabilizing and restarting our economy after the current crisis has passed.

Rusty Williams

Education: Nitro High School (Class of 96), Ben Franklin Technical Center (Dunbar, WV. Class of 96), The Recording Workshop (Chillicothe, OH. Program completed in 1999)

Occupation: Patient advocate on the WV Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: As more and more states move to end the prohibition of cannabis, using the newly generated revenue to build schools and fund major infrastructure initiatives, here in West Virginia, bureaucrats are still struggling to implement the medical cannabis program that passed with broad bipartisan support and was signed into law by Governor Justice in 2017.

If elected, I will support:

  • Comprehensive legislation designed to create a legal cannabis industry heavily focused on small business as well as criminal justice reform and social equity.
  • Removing overly burdensome government regulations on industrial hemp farmers and investing in downstream industries like hemp plastic and biofuel initiatives as part of a broader plan to diversify the economy and put West Virginians back to work.
  • The creation of a state-owned public bank to give small West Virginia farmers the means to grow and produce on a larger scale, ushering in a new-wave of innovation and revenue generation.

Making major investments in agriculture as part of an economic diversification initiative would allow us to address the $7 billion dollar annual food-import deficit and put an entire generation of small West Virginia farmers on a path to sustainable prosperity.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: While there’s no way to predict when a national crisis like the current situation with COVID-19 will occur, we’ve got to do everything we can to make sure we’re properly prepared for any situation that may arise.

In the age of the 24/7 news cycle, it’s easy for folks to be overwhelmed by the constant barrage of information, especially when it varies so broadly from one source to the next. We need to establish a centralized information hub that supports access via the internet and telephone as well as push notifications through text and email so that in times of crisis, West Virginians will have immediate access to the most up-to-date information and will know exactly what they need to do and when they need to do it.

Kayla Young

Education: West Virginia University, bachelor’s degree

Occupation: Entrepreneur

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: There are a multitude of ways to diversify the economy in West Virginia, and many of them are free. We aren’t on the radar for a lot of Fortune 500 companies because the top two must-haves are non-discrimination workplace protections and access to renewable resources. We can strengthen our infrastructure and expand affordable or free education opportunities to diversify our workforce and grow the economy. Financial incentives can be helpful for growth of existing or new industries, but we should fairly disperse the incentives rather than disproportionately focus them on one or two volatile industries. We could restructure our tax code to make it more just and promote economic growth.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: The response to COVID-19 in West Virginia has been slow and shown the many faults within our current systems from inadequate health care coverage to a lack of paid leave across all industries. This crisis shows how unprepared we are for a crisis of this magnitude. We need better communication practices and methodologies across all state agencies to get information from the leaders in government straight to the people. We need policies that provide guidance related to schools and evictions and utility payments during a crisis. We need the leniency to extend legal deadlines and handle price gouging. This crisis has shown the need for a vote by mail system, instead relying on an expanded absentee system that will cost the state and counties far too much money. Once we get past this COVID-19 crisis, West Virginia will still face the vast problems we had before this happened. We must raise our economic standings, and become prosperous to be able to be financially prepared for a crisis, as well as to further our state in a time of normalcy.

Candidate Angie Kerns did not return a Gazette-Mail questionnaire. Candidate Tim Halloran could not be reached by the Gazette-Mail.

District 36 (Kanawha County)

Three seats are up for election. The top three vote recipients in each primary will continue to the general election in November.

Republican PrimaryJohn Luoni

Education: Master’s degree in mechanical engineering

Occupation: County engineer

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: I support legislation designed to review and discard all unnecessary business-related taxes and regulations which hamper business development and expansion. I also plan to introduce legislation to enact business incentive programs like the UKAN program funded by the Kanawha County Commission that provides funding to start-up businesses and assist expanding businesses in Eastern Kanawha County. I also plan to introduce legislation to improve transportation, with emphasis on better road maintenance and assisting with the runway extension at Yeager Airport. These items are also critical to attracting businesses to West Virginia. I have served on the Regional Inter-Governmental Council Transportation Committee for seven years because of my interest in improving transportation. I am also a proponent of better broadband access for attracting business and serving our citizens, by working with broadband suppliers to provide better coverage throughout the state. It is also vital to keep our energy costs low by using our West Virginia fuels and eliminate frivolous lawsuits against businesses. I also support improving our education system, which is also important to attracting business.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: I will support legislation to make sure our state has a well-thought-out plan in place to deal with this kind of health emergency in the future. This legislation must require the involvement of health officials early on to help fine tune and implement the strategy. We must have the important details ironed-out ahead of time and the specifics must be more clearly defined. We must be more proactive in getting useable, accurate information out to the public and avoid vague overly-broad statements. We should avoid the appearance of building an airplane when you are already in the air. We must also take a balanced, common-sense approach that does not create tremendous hardships on our citizens and damages or destroys our businesses and our economy. We also need to encourage our citizens to boost their immune systems with nutrients containing Vitamins C and D, and key minerals such as zinc, as well as getting proper sleep.

Chris Pritt

Education: West Virginia Wesleyan College, bachelor’s degree; Virginia Tech, master’s degree; Ohio Northern University, juris doctor

Occupation: Lawyer

Q: What Legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: Businesses want greater tax and regulatory certainty. We need to lower barriers to companies starting in West Virginia and for existing companies to relocate to West Virginia. We need a level playing field for all businesses. Special carve outs for politically connected groups and interests do not help the West Virginia economy. We need to enable people to fail and succeed on their own merit. The more protective we are towards select industries and interests, the less competitive they will tend to be. If we enact legislation consistent with these principles, West Virginia will gain a more diverse economy.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this and or a similar crisis in the future?

A: For each and every crisis that could conceivably happen in the future, we need to put together a team with the knowledge and expertise to develop a plan to address the address the crisis. The plan should be done with the goal of being realistic based on resources and currently available technology. The plan should be subject to review and revision each year as state resources and current technology is reassessed. I would advocate for more emphasis on planning.

Chris Walters

Education: West Virginia University, bachelor’s degree

Occupation: Owner, Integrity Insurance Group LLC

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: In order to diversify our economy we need to become more competitive in both our broadband infrastructure and our utilities cost. West Virginia needs to think big with our internet access for both homes and businesses. I proposed a bill that would have built the fastest most affordable internet system in the U.S. here in West Virginia at a cost of less than the price of building one mile of interstate highway.

We currently have the eighth-highest water rates in the United States and in order to attract individuals and businesses who utilize water in manufacturing or chemical production we have to be more competitive.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: I would strengthen our rainy day fund so that we have the ability to reach into our financial reserves in the event of a crisis. Also, I would divide the Department of Health and Human Resources to create a more efficient division of health that could more strategically advise our legislators on the best course of action.

Republican primary candidates Amanda Davis, Bill Johnson and Stevie Thaxton did not reply to Gazette-Mail candidate questionnaires

Democratic PrimaryAmanda Estep-Burton (Incumbent)

Education: West Virginia State University, bachelor’s degree

Occupation: Commercial banker

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: The fact that there is not one silver bullet to undo West Virginia’s narrowly-focused economy cannot be stated enough. However, this past legislative session offered a good start with the MOJO Act. I supported this legislation because it supported our everyday West Virginians with good jobs, opened up new markets in the state and provided a future worth pursuing for young West Virginians. We will diversify, grow and stabilize our economy by focusing resources on education, infrastructure and open minds.

Furthermore, successfully diversifying our economy for all West Virginians will include not leaving areas of our state behind. We will rise or fail together. More detailed and community-tailored actions will need to be taken to empower communities that have been economically hurt by industries that are no longer providing the same opportunities for our people and state as there once were.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve the response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: The two most important actions we can take in a crisis like this is be effective communicators with clear directions and actions to keep people safe as well as empower those who know the most about what is going on and how to achieve the best possible outcomes for our communities. In a public health crisis, people will gravitate to leaders or fears –- it is the role of public officials to coordinate with public health experts to make those decisions of where to gravitate easier by consistent informed communication.

Leaders also need to make proper information accessible to the public in a timely and easy to digest manner. Knowledge is more than power is a situation like this –- it provides a sense of calm that allows our citizens to focus on taking actions to keep themselves, their families and neighbors safe.

Larry L. Rowe (Incumbent)

Education: West Virginia University, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and juris doctor

Occupation: Attorney and author

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: Diversification requires an improved work force. Community college free tuition should be stepped in for students at regional colleges like West Virginia State. Barriers to work should end with bail reform, expunging old non-violent offenses and permitting 100,000 West Virginians to drive legally despite unpaid fines. Employers expect strong support for arts, libraries, public education and laws against discrimination. Montgomery’s ChalleNGe Academy, the Technology Park and BridgeValley’s main campus move to Charleston should be supported.

Better infrastructure means statewide broadband for “at home work.” We must keep our air and water clean. West Virginia Tech’s campus, student body, and programs should expand in cooperation with Concord, Bluefield State and the Osteopathic School, to attract new federal technology, science, health, military and homeland security installations to jump start southern coalfields development, as done in Bridgeport. Federal installations are needed along the Charleston-Charlotte Corridor, where we have adventure tourism and technology in place, centered by West Virginia Tech. For roads, a schedule plan to fix potholes is key. Corridor H, the direct route from Metro Baltimore–Washington to Columbus, and a new 4-lane west from Beckley into the coalfields will lift up the entire state.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve the response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: Pandemics can only be contained with an independent agency empowered to plan, predict, and early organize a controlled and coordinated containment response. The White House had a pandemic office from the prior administration, which several years ago it reorganized under another office, with a response that has failed us.

Early containment requires immediate detection of threats, limits on travel from epicenters and stockpiling of needed supplies and hospital space. Days matter. A pandemic office should have power independently to research threats and inform the nation and begin ordering and coordinating distribution of goods with presidential and congressional oversight. Instead we have an unorganized, scattered and reactive response with predictable shortages in protective wear and supplies — and life-saving ventilators. Hospitals were already at near capacity, and temporary hospitals are popping up in cities.

States are encouraged to find their own way. States should decide on shutdowns but medical and distribution issues are national. West Virginia officials have responded appropriately on those issues through aggressive containment with shutdowns. Without planning, we must learn as we go — a deadly lesson. How did our federal government leave us with the possibility of 100,000 to 200,000 deaths? We can do better.

Jim Barach

Education: Mississippi State University, bachelor’s degree

Occupation: Retired 38-year veteran of television broadcast news

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: Economic diversification is my number one priority for the upcoming legislative session. We are primed for rebuilding the state’s economy, but we need to be more aggressive and we have to start now. We have to show businesses across the country that are considering relocating or expanding how an area like Charleston has a tremendous geographic location with seven major cities three to four hours away by interstate. That is a manufacturing gold mine. We have the Kanawha River which businesses can utilize to carry goods up to the Ohio River and to points beyond. We have a low cost of living which translates to a low cost of doing business. The West Virginia workforce is top in the nation for a tendency to not be transient and be more likely to stay with companies longer. We also desperately need high speed internet access for the entire state as a way to attract the tech industry.

To ensure the availability of a qualified workforce, we need to guarantee our students can continue their education after high school and go to college or get vo-tech training. We should also do away with Right to Work as that results in lower wages for workers which hinders the local economy, and we should reinstate the prevailing wage for the same reason and because it has been shown to not save taxpayers any money.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: West Virginia was fortunate in a way with COVID-19 in that we were the last state with confirmed cases of the illness. This did give us a bit of an advantage in preparing for what was to come, unless the reason we had the last confirmed cases was because we didn’t get the testing kits in time. My idea would be to work closely with the CDC to make sure emergency supplies and test kits are on hand in case there is a second wave of the illness later in the year. From what I am reading, testing is the best defense we have against the spread of the disease. We need to be given these supplies first instead of last because of our demographics which have the highest share of adults who are at risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

We need to make sure our health infrastructure holds together to ensure the poorer people in rural areas get the treatment they need to stop illnesses like COVID-19 from festering and then exploding into something that could spread throughout the entire state.

Many of our collateral issues like health infrastructure would be solved by the first issue of turning our economy around and becoming a wealthier state.

Clint Casto

Education: West Virginia State University, bachelor’s degree

Occupation: I work in the gig economy

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: I think to diversify the West Virginia economy there has to be a good environment for our economy to grow to attract people and business to come to the state and to also foster the people living here to grew to become future business leaders. I believe part of growing our economy is to offer a good environment where people want to live and move here and foster ingenuity. I would support affordable housing, improving and supporting education, and the arts. I would support community centers. I would support public works. Tackling the opioid and drug problem has to be a priority. Having a good environment will set the conditions we need to grow and prosper.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined our relationship with the government. We need to be prepared for the unexpected. In a crisis, quick decisions need to be made with information provided by experts to save lives. In a future crisis, changes need to be made. To protect workers and the public, I would support expanded sick time, temperature checks. If you’re sick, stay at home. I support making sure medications are affordable and there is access. I commend all the workers working the front lines in this pandemic and they deserve hazard pay. In dealing with a crisis, the saving of lives outweighs any economy. Saving lives is the priority at all cost.

James Elam

Education: Capital High, then attended Concord University

Occupation: Security/private protection; former corrections officer with WVDOC

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: I would legalize recreational cannabis, pass non-discrimination protections for all workers and tenants, repeal RTW laws, reinstate the prevailing wage, focus on renewable/green energy, and give Unions preference in bids on state contracts.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: Going forward, we must take this virus (and any other life threatening infectious diseases) extremely serious. Many people were making jokes about COVID-19 in West Virginia and how there were “no cases” here. That was because we dropped the ball when it came to testing for the virus. It is likely many people were spreading this virus around and were simply unaware they were infected. We need to social distance and isolate as many people from each other right now and focus on the health of all our neighbors. We also need to ensure employers are doing right by their employees during this time, and if you are in a position which is deemed non-essential, you should be required to stay home to prevent further spread. No one should have to sacrifice their own health for financial security.

District 38 (Parts of Kanawha, Putnam counties)One seat is up for election. Incumbent Dianna Graves is unopposed in the Republican Primary.

Democratic PrimaryJames S. Dalton

Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science, master’s in HR management and industrial employee labor relations

Occupation: UPS Mid-Atlantic transportation supervisor

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: I personally feel that West Virginia farmers have the ability to be at the forefront and the potential to be industry leaders in growth, distribution, and sales from legalizing marijuana. This has not only shown to generate large revenue in other states that have enacted this legislation, but will also provide the state with another guaranteed revenue stream which can be used to improve the salaries of our teachers. Funds can also be used to ensure that PEIA remains solvent. This would make great use of the land that has been vacated from mountain top removal.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: When growing up, I recall that we used to have periodic shelter-in-place drills during school in the event of an emergency. Not too long ago, the federal government tested an emergency warning system via text from the office of the president in the event this were to occur. I believe that the vulnerability that was exposed with this pandemic is more of a reason why the state should have a periodic preparedness readiness test so that in the event we are faced with another large spread threat of any type, then we can at least rest assured that our infrastructure is equipped to handle it. This would include inventory checks for adequate medical supplies, the ability to use buildings throughout the state for makeshift hospitals, making sure the National Guard is properly equipped and, in the event things are rationed such as fuel, then the DMV can organize this in a manner by the month displayed on our license plates like I witnessed in Houston during Hurricane Harvey disaster relief efforts.

Nikki Ardman

Occupation: Science teacher

The Gazette-Mail failed to get a questionnaire to candidate Ardman. The following is an excerpt from a video explaining her platform and positions on her campaign’s Facebook page.

“I’m a West Virginian, born and raised, and I’ve been teaching since 1994 ... that’s a little over 25 years of service, and that’s sort of the point. I am a person of service. I would like to continue being of service but I’d like to work on a larger scale. I need to do more.”

Ardman went on to explain she has been making masks for people during the COVID-19 process, and asked supporters not to donate to her campaign. All donations would be donated to other nonprofits, she said.

“This is about being a West Virginian. It’s not about being a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent or a nonvoter. This is about making decisions and working together to come up with the best future that we can make for ourselves here.”

Candidates Dayton Beard and Nick Withrow did not reply to Gazette-Mail questionnaires. Candidate

District 39 (Kanawha County) Republican Primary

One seat is up for election.

Dana Ferrell

Education: Marshall University, master’s degree

Occupation: Business owner/developer

Q: What legislation would you enact to diversify West Virginia’s economy?

A: Economic development is our strength area. First, I will take the lead in high speed, reliable internet and cell phone coverage for West Virginia. This is a must for business growth.

Our campaign has also focused on enacting legislation that builds great community amenities that attract young people, new business and jobs. These drive the economy and benefit our seniors through better services.

West Virginia is centrally positioned in the heart of the most populous region of the top economy in the world, setting us up for worlds of opportunity. It takes vision and the ability to build a unified consensus toward making things happen. I’ve been doing that for over 20 years.

Q: We are in the midst of a state and national crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you do to improve response to this or a similar crisis in the future?

A: My experience in health care, education and business uniquely positions me to address such situations.

I have served nearly a decade on the board of one of the top hospital systems in West Virginia. I can say that we have amazing people serving us at all levels of health care.

Nurses, doctors and administrators — we are blessed with great ones that love West Virginia. I would work with all these to formulate the best path forward now and for future crisis. We will be better.

Republican incumbent Kevan Bartlett did not return a Gazette-Mail candidate questionnaire. There is no Democratic primary in the district.