Deem plans to run for W.Va. House

VIENNA – The longest-serving legislator in West Virginia announced Friday his plans to run for the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Frank Deem, a Republican, announced he will seek one of the three seats in the 10th District of the House of Delegates during the May 13 primary election. The 10th District represents residents of Vienna and Parkersburg.

“I have enjoyed being in the Legislature and think it is gratifying to have an opinion and be able to vote for the betterment of the people,” said Deem of Vienna, who has served in both the House and Senate in each of the six decades since the 1950s.

Deem, 85, is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and World War II and was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1954. He served in that position through 1962 and was elected to the Senate from 1964 to 1972 before being elected to the House of Delegates again in 1988.

In 1994 he was elected back in the 3rd District of the Senate where he covered Wood, Pleasants, Wirt and an eastern portion of Roane counties and was re-elected every term until he was unseated by current Sen. David Nohe, R-Wood, in the 2010 primary.

“I have strong feelings about a lot of political issues and would like to be able to represent my district in those areas,” Deem said. “I uphold the people’s views on abortion, taxes, gun control and education.”

The growing natural gas and Marcellus shale industry, as well as the in-coming cracker plant will be one of Deem’s focuses if elected.

“I have a background in oil and gas and with what is going on, I think I have the knowledge to fairly represent my area,” he said.

Deem is a graduate of Marietta College’s School of Petroleum and a veteran oil and gas producer, having started his career working for his father in oil fields in Ritchie County. He surveyed and drilled oil and gas well locations and plugged abandoned wells. He continues to work in the industry as he owns and operates more than 200 oil and gas wells in Ritchie, Doddridge and Gilmer counties through J.F. Deem Oil and Gas.

Other priorities will be job creation, education and taxes, he said.

Having served 12 years in the House and 31 years in the Senate, Deem was twice elected minority leader in the Senate and has served on every major committee in both chambers of the Legislature.

Deem and his wife, Rebecca, a retired teacher from the Wood County School System, have eight children. Deem was educated in Ritchie County schools, Mountain State Business College, West Virginia University and Marietta College.

He is a member of several organizations, including Rotary, the American Legion and state and national oil and gas associations.

Also running for the 10th District of the House of Delegates are Republicans Mike Azinger and John R. Kelly as well as Democrats Paul E. Miller and Dan Poling, who have filed with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office. Azinger and Miller recently filed for candidacy. These three seats are currently held by Tom Azinger, R-Wood, Poling and Delegate John Ellem, R-Wood.

On Thursday, longtime Delegate Tom Azinger, 78, announced he would not seek re-election. The insurance agent and property manager was elected to the House in 1994 and has continually won re-election and represented the 10th District in the House for about 20 years.

Mike Azinger, 48, Willowbrook Drive, Parkersburg, is Tom Azinger’s son.

Ellem said he has not decided about whether to run for another term. He said he is discussing the matter with his family and will be making his decision soon.

Incumbents Bill Anderson, R-Wood, is running for the 8th District while the 9th District has seen Anna Border, R-Wood, and Jim Marion, D-Wood, of Mineral Wells also file.

Filing runs to Jan. 25.