Essential reporting in volatile times.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.


Learn more about HD Media

The U.S. Postal Service serves a vital function in West Virginia, where many folks do not have adequate internet or cellphone service.

I would not be surprised if there are West Virginians for whom the post office delivery person is the only other person they see on a regular basis.

Many West Virginians depend on the Postal Service to deliver Social Security checks and lifesaving prescriptions.

My postman is a Dallas Cowboys fan, but I still look forward to seeing him every day. He’s a nice guy, he’s funny and, sometimes, he brings me money. He is an important part of the community.

Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes some of West Virginia’s most remote regions. Mooney should be hyper-concerned about any reduction in the post office’s ability to serve his constituents. And yet, he recently voted against House Bill 8015 which, “... prohibits the U.S. Postal Service from making changes to operations or levels of service ... and provides additional funding for the Postal Service Fund.”

I called Mooney’s office on Aug. 14, two weeks ago, to ask him about the withholding of funds to the Postal Service. I was forced to leave a message with an aide. I was told Rep. Mooney would return my call. It’s been two weeks. Nothing yet.

I emailed and Facebook messaged Mooney on this issue on Aug. 14. As of Aug. 31, Mooney has not messaged me. If he responded by mail, the letter has been delayed en route.

Rep. Mooney cannot represent you and me if he won’t respect us by communicating with us.

Cathy Kunkel is running to unseat Mooney. I emailed Cathy Kunkel at about the same time I emailed Mooney’s office.

Candidate Kunkel herself responded within hours, saying, “The post office is a fundamental government service, and particularly important to a rural state like West Virginia ... attacks on the postal service [like] withholding funding are unacceptable ...”

Candidate Kunkel clearly understands the necessity of the Postal Service in the lives of West Virginians. Rep. Mooney doesn’t. Kunkel also communicates directly with the folks she wants to represent. Again, Mooney does not.

Rep. Mooney’s Aug. 31 newsletter mentions several things he did recently in Congress but fails to make any mention that he voted against the recent bill designed to help the Postal Service. Why doesn’t he mention his “no” vote?

Rep. Mooney called the bill a “political stunt” on Twitter. He wrote that the bill was intended, “... to fuel a false and intentionally misleading theory about the USPS.” And yet, 26 of his fellow Republican representatives voted in favor of the bill, including Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va.

McKinley said, “... I’ve consistently fought to protect the mission of the U.S. Postal Service ... . This vote is just the latest example of standing up for postal workers and the communities who depend on them.”

Mooney’s “no” vote contradicts his fellow conservative’s notion that the Postal Service is important to West Virginians.

On Aug. 26, Rep. McKinley signed a letter to U.S. Post Master General Louis DeJoy stating concerns about possible delays at the post office. Rep. McKinley urged DeJoy not to make changes that would have negative effects on postal delivery. Eighty-five other officials and members of Congress signed the letter. Alex Mooney was not one of them.

A May 5 letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin calling for support of the Postal Service also includes Rep. McKinley’s signature, but conspicuously lacks Rep. Mooney’s signature.

Why can’t Mooney see the importance of the Postal Service to West Virginia?

Mooney claims to champion the U.S. military and veterans. Many West Virginia veterans receive lifesaving prescriptions through the mail. How can Mooney say he defends veterans while at the same hindering the timely delivery of their medications?

My uncle Paul, a Vietnam veteran, recently spoke of the importance of the Postal Service to U.S. service people. Uncle Paul said: “Know this much. Even when I had no idea what region, province, hamlet, village or fire base I was at — the United States Postal Service knew. We always got our mail, and our letters always got home. Don’t let anyone tell you the vets at the post office can’t handle the job, because if anyone knows — they do.”

If Alex Mooney won’t protect the people he claims to care most about, then it is time to write a new chapter in West Virginia history by electing Cathy Kunkel, a first-class candidate.

Bil Lepp, of South Charleston, is a professional storyteller and Gazette-Mail contributing columnist.