The West Virginia Working Families Party endorses Democratic candidate Amy Shuler Goodwin in the city of Charleston’s May primary election.
The progressive political organization and its affiliate, Rise Up West Virginia, announced their endorsements for the city’s election at a news conference Thursday afternoon. The group is also endorsing four Democratic candidates for Charleston City Council at-large seats: Caitlin Cook, Jennifer Pharr, Joe Solomon and Bill Price.
“We want leaders who ensure that the city will invest fairly in city services for all communities, regardless of income or racial composition,” Cathy Kunkel, a co-founder of Rise Up WV, said.
“We want city leaders who will fight for working families and develop real solutions for tackling the opioid epidemic. We believe that our endorsed candidates share these goals and will fight for them when in office.”
Goodwin, the former state tourism commissioner, called the opioid epidemic and substance abuse the biggest problem facing the city.
“We can do this, we can make progress together, but it has to be everyone at the table,” Goodwin said.
Cook, 28, the communications director for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, said she’s running to bring better policy and stronger communication to the city.
“Many people in this city, their voices have not been heard and that’s not OK,” Cook said. “And as change happens in the new election, that cannot continue.”
Pharr, a real estate agent, said she’s a West Side native but has lived in several places including Nashville, California and Georgia.
“The one thing that brought me back home and kept me home was the sense of community,” Pharr said. Kunkel said Pharr has researched harm reduction and homelessness policy.
Joe Solomon, 35, a small business owner, spoke of fighting for a living wage and paid sick time for workers and also for investing in communities like the West Side.
Price, 61, works for the Sierra Club. Price was not at the news conference but Kunkel said he supports a housing-first model for homelessness, town hall meetings for policymaking input from residents and improving the area’s public transit system.