Readers sometimes tell us that it looks like the Gazette Opinion page simply chooses all Democrats to endorse. That’s not true, but we can see why it might seem that way.
Like any responsible voter, we evaluate each candidate and recommend the one who is best for the job, of whatever party. When it comes to policy-making offices, such as the Legislature, however, there are some basic beliefs that cause our choices to skew mostly to Democrats.
West Virginia needs lawmakers who understand that the people and their businesses prosper when individuals’ needs are met. People do better when their public schools are funded and when they can go the doctor. When people are between jobs, everyone benefits if a family has enough to eat and doesn’t lose its home or car until parents find a new job. They do better when they have access to higher education, of all kinds, which leads to a more employable workforce and better paying jobs. West Virginians also need to safeguard their precious air, water and land.
The state should have as little government as possible, but also enough to meet the people’s common needs. A necessary fact of life is taxes to support these things that make individual prosperity possible, even more likely. With those ideals in mind, the following candidates display a variety of qualities that would help move West Virginia toward inventing a more prosperous future, with the health and potential of West Virginians as a top priority.
District 4 — Brian Prim, D, a lawyer and farmer from Fraziers Bottom, ranks education as a top priority. West Virginians need to work the way they do during a disaster. “We would all run to help,” he said.
District 8 — Richard Lindsay, D, a lawyer in Charleston, thinks universities could provide much of the medical care needed by PEIA recipients, giving the state a chance to stabilize prices and invest in those schools.
District 17 — Terrell Ellis, D, an economic development consultant in Charleston, stresses investment in small businesses — with attention to procurement, training, capital and technical assistance, for example — to diversify the state’s economy.
W.Va. House of Delegates
District 13 — Scott Brewer, D, a union carpenter of New Haven, points out that economic growth occurs around higher education and well-funded public schools.
District 13 — Todd Mullins, I, of Leon, a maintenance worker in Mason County schools, values trade schools as an option for many students and believes gas pipeline companies should be required to “leave the land the same way they found it.”
District 14 — Brianne Larisse Solomon, D, of Culloden, chairwoman of the Fine Art Department at Hannan Junior-Senior High School, wants to bring vocational training to middle schools and cautions against cutting taxes for rich residents “at the expense of working families, retirees and our seniors.”
District 15 — Casey Horton, D, a business owner in Hurricane, thinks the state should encourage emerging technology that leads to affordable housing and healthy, affordable food. One way to fund PEIA: “Force billionaires to pay their taxes.”
District 32 — David “Elliott” Pritt, M, a copy center manager from Fayetteville, suggests one-year B&O tax breaks for small businesses in economically distressed counties and re-evaluating prison terms for nonviolent cannabis offenders.
District 32 — Margaret Anne Staggers, D, an ER physician from Fayetteville, is a reliable former delegate who would like West Virginia to start a multi-state team to negotiate lower drug prices.
District 35 — Andrew D. Byrd, D, a lawyer from South Charleston, introduced a 10-cent tax on each opioid pill that would have raised $27 million.
District 35 — Renate Pore, D, who is retired in Charleston, knows more about public health policy than anyone and suggests state support for apprenticeship programs, as well as free tuition for community and technical colleges.
District 35 — James Robinette, D, a union pipefitter from St. Albans, prioritizes updated water treatment facilities and solar and wind energy development.
District 35 — Doug Skaff Jr., D, of South Charleston, is a former delegate who we endorsed previously, even before he invested in this newspaper. He lists a focus on small business, entrepreneurs and business incubators as strategies to diversify the state’s economy.
District 36 — Amanda Estep-Burton, D, a banker in Charleston, felt compelled to run after 2016. She believes West Virginia is ideally suited for manufacturing.
District 36 — Andrew Robinson, D, a real estate broker in Charleston, an incumbent, stresses workforce education, including funding for career and technical education.
District 36 — Larry L. Rowe, D, a lawyer in Malden, is a reliable lawmaker with vast experience who supports free community college, restoring funding to education and protecting traditional property rights.
District 37 — Mike Pushkin, D, a taxi driver and musician in Charleston, another proven delegate, would promote economic growth by streamlining the process to expand wireless high-speed broadband and fix the banking issue hindering medical cannabis businesses.
District 38 — Tom Tull, D, of Scott Depot, is a retired school teacher, principal and administrator whose open mind and even temper would make him a good delegate. “All state citizens benefit from educating all children,” he says.
District 39 — David “Woody” Holmes, D, a project manager in Sissonville, is running for the seat recently held by former Delegate Ron Walters. The first thing employers want to know about is education, he said. He thinks West Virginia needs to drive more crafts, coding and technology.
District 40 — Melissa Riggs Huffman, D, a teacher from Elkview, is running for former House Speaker Tim Armstead’s old seat. She’s among several candidates who support public schools and think legalized marijuana and a natural gas severance tax increase could help fund the state’s needs.