2020 WV primary candidates: State Senate

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There is no primary in the state Senate’s 8th District, which contains parts of Kanawha and Putnam Counties. Incumbent Sen. Glenn Jeffries, a Democrat from Red House, will face Republican challenger Kathie Hess Crouse in the November general election.

Senate District 17 (Kanawha County) Democratic Primary

Andrew N. Robinson

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

Occupation: Real estate appraiser and broker; member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, representing the state’s 36th District

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

A: During my four years in the Legislature, we have worked on a long list of tax breaks, business incentives and other measures, which we rarely hear about the following year. Diversifying the economy is not a task with a simple resolution prescribed and resolved in a short time period.

I believe the answer to diversifying our economy comes from growth to our population. Small businesses grow from within the community and allow the community to benefit as they grow. If we can encourage the Legislature to focus on policies that encourage people to return or remain in West Virginia, those same individuals will fuel growth in our communities and the state.

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 outbreak has been an eye-opening experience. We seem to have been unprepared for measures recommended by our medical professionals soon after this pandemic began. Government functions — such as identifying essential businesses, establishing measures to allow public employees the opportunity to work from home, immediate expansion of unemployment compensation and seamlessly providing education remotely — are issues we, as a state, should have prepared and made ready to implement. It is not possible to predict the types of national or statewide emergencies that we may be faced with in coming years, however, structural plans should be made and ready to implement in the future. If elected, I would introduce legislation to require state agencies to have standard operating procedures in place for future state of emergency situations.

Jon Hague

Education: Marshall University, bachelor’s degree

Occupation: Sales/marketing

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

A: The sad truth is that West Virginia should already have a diversified economy. For years, we have discussed a future beyond coal but not acted. Now that future is upon us, and we are not prepared. Some of the problems we face are a bureaucracy that discourages innovation and investment, a low workforce participation rate, high rates of addiction, not enough people with four-year degrees, and very little investment capital to grow our state. Each of these must be addressed if we are to thrive economically. We need to reform our regulatory environment, improve our workforce, and invest heavily in West Virginia-grown businesses. To do that will require an increase in scholarships and loan forgiveness programs to those students who choose to work in West Virginia, treatment centers in every local community so that every West Virginian struggling with addiction can get help where they live, expanded pathways back into work for those in recovery, and a massive increase in grants and low-interest loans to spur homegrown businesses. We can fix our problems and create a brighter tomorrow. But we must be forward-thinking and invest in ourselves today.

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: Leadership matters. We prepare today for the crises of tomorrow. And our leaders at the state and national level have simply not been up to the task. In any crisis I would focus on prior preparation, being forthright with the public, getting ahead of the curve and having a voice that calms public fears. We needed to ensure robust testing in the initial stages of the disease to stop it in its tracks. Once that failed, we needed to get ahead of the curve by putting immediate limits on hoarding and social distancing a week before we did. Our state and nation acted too late. Going into the future, we need a long-range economic relief plan to help workers and businesses using federal dollars and Rainy Day funds. This will be the key to our long-term recovery and is a vital step we can still get right. But more than anything in a crisis, tone matters. Leadership is about standing up during a crisis, giving clear instructions, being forthright, showing competence and saying we will get through this. And a voice bringing our people together has been sorely lacking during this crisis.

House of Delegates Member Eric Nelson, R-Putnam, is unopposed in the Senate District 17 Republican primary.

Funerals for Saturday, May 30, 2020

Barlow Jr., Jack - 3 p.m., Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home, Charleston.

Cunningham, Jack - 2 p.m., Valley View Memorial Park, Hurricane.

Fields, Alice - 2 p.m., Letart-Evergreen Cemetery, Letart.

Halstead, Edna - 11 a.m., Danville Memorial Park.

Lovejoy, Bob - 11 a.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Morris, Lewis - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.

Summers, Matthew - 1 p.m., Haven of Rest Memorial Gardens.