Candidates vying for Districts 8, 9 seats
PARKERSBURG — Dealing with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing educational needs and business development are among the concerns for those running for the West Virginia House of Delegates Districts 8 and 9.
In the 8th District race, incumbent Republican Bill Anderson will be facing Democrat Andrew Alvarez. Since no other challengers entered the race, both men will move on to the general election in November.
In the 9th District race, incumbent Charles “Chuck” Little and D. Shannon are running for the Republican nomination while Democrat Jim Marion is unopposed.
Anderson, 71, is a retired teacher who is running for his 15th term having served 28 years in the Legislature.
He had success moving legislation through the energy committee to providing money for cleaning up and plugging up abandoned oil and gas wells around the state. That legislation passed the legislature and was signed into law by the governor.
Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers will have to take a hard look at the state’s budget.
”I have been veteran of the finance committee and I am in a position to give seasoned judgment to the moves we may have to make,” Anderson said.
He believes the legislature will be called back into session before the end of the fiscal year at the end of June to move money from the Rainy Day Fund to help the state make their payments, because the revenue estimates are down quite a bit.
”As I follow the revenue estimates come in, I believe we will have to move $200-$300 million,” he said of being able to meet the state’s financial obligations. ”I’m sure the governor will institute some budget reductions on his orders.”
He feels state officials should view the COVID-19 situation as a way to learn how to deal with such crisis and pandemic issues.
”We need to learn from this to better plan for this situation if it should occur again,” he said. ”I believe it will allow our different departments to be build better integrated plans.
”We have kind of felt our way through this situation. The governor and the state is stepping up to manage it. West Virginians are cooperating and we are seeing the numbers improve.”
Anderson said as the situation continues to improve they have to work at getting people back to work and do it safely so people can support their families.
”It will also help the economy of our state and our country come back,” Anderson said.
The state is awaiting court judgments from the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline where work can continue to finish those pipelines.
”That will put several thousand West Virginians back to work,” he said.
Alvarez, 34, is a small business owner and has served on the Wood County Democratic Party Executive Committee.
He feels state government needs new people and new ideas in elected office.
”To get things changed, the government needs a new point-of-view,” he said. ”They need someone younger in there.
”That is the reason nothing ever changes in there as we have had the same people in office for years. It is time for someone to make a change. I have some good ideas.”
Alvarez has a master’s in business and has an understanding of economic issues.
”We need economic growth in this area to bring more people in,” he said.
As the state continues to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, something needs to be done to get businesses up and going again.
”I want to propose lowering small business tax, to give people more sales and more income coming in,” he said. ”West Virginia is losing a lot of money right now during this crisis.”
He feels education should receive more funding, including increasing pay for teachers.
”They do a lot and represent our future,” Alvarez said. ”We have to take care of them.”
He also wants to find ways to bring businesses back to West Virginia, including other energy options as coal has seen a decline in recent years.
As a candidate, he is part of the West Virginia Can’t Wait movement and will not take any corporate money. Everything he does is self-financed.
”I want the people to be heard,” Alvarez said. ”I don’t want big companies to dictate what is going on in our state.”
The 9th District covers part of southern Wood County and all of Wirt County.
Little, a private investigator for the law firm of Bailey and Glasser in Charleston, is running for his first full term in the House. He was appointed to the House in May 2019 to succeed Ray Hollen who had taken a job with the U.S. Department of Defense.
He was a law-enforcement officer for over 40 years, 15 years with the West Virginia State Police and almost 25 years as a special agent for the U.S. Treasury Department. He also served as the Chief Investigator for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Government Oversight and Reform Committee in Washington D.C. for a period of time.
Little said education and helping to build a strong economy for the state remains priorities for him as a Delegate in the House.
“I’m running to try to make things better,” he said. “I’m a conservative.
“Education is one of the things important to me. We have to get it right. Education is the answer for everything.”
A good education system gives students the skills they need to be competitive in the job market. A good education system is also a draw for any company looking to locate in the state.
“My goal is to improve the quality of education,” Little said.
He feels students need to concentrate on the fundamentals of reading, writing and math as well as history, geography and other important subjects.
Little said he brings accountability to the position of Delegate. He wants to make sure he knows what people’s tax money is being spent on and he wants to make sure it is being spent as it was promised to be spent.
“Accountability has always been my thing,” he said. “Was it used for the purpose the law was passed for?
“What happened to those funds? I think there is a big void there and I think I can do something about that, given the opportunity.”
Kimes, 43, is a mechanical engineer who owns and operates Kimes Steel & Rail, a manufacturer of railroad construction materials. He was previously appointed treasurer for the town of Hartford in Mason County where he served in that position for two years.
Kimes believes his experience as a businessman and engineer will provide a perspective that could be useful to solving the state’s problems.
“Further no one else was running against the incumbent, not exactly a representative democracy at its best,” Kimes said. “I believe in the free competitive marketplace, including the market place of ideas in a democracy.”
Kimes said he will bring an independent mind which would use his engineering and business skills to solve the state’s problems with the resources available without taxing and wasting as per usual.
“In my mind, the single biggest issue facing West Virginia is a dangerous multi-generational complacency and contentment with mediocrity fueled by an expensive and failing public education system and a flight of our brightest and youngest for better opportunities elsewhere,” he said. “I would work to get the single biggest cause of this, the government, out of the way.
“I would work locally to solve the problems of the 9th District using the resources we have. Waiting on Charleston or DC for a bailout and solution has been a proven five-decade plus exercise in futility. Solving the problems locally with the resources we have is the only viable solution that may accomplish anything in the next five decades.”
Kimes said the key is getting government out of the way, assisting small businesses to grow, rethinking the public education system from the ground up, using the resources the state has to solve problems locally.
“Thinking outside the box to get things done rather than tax and waste,” Kimes said.
Marion, 67, is a retired UPS worker where he delivered packages for 27 years.
He is running for the House because he feels the people of Wood and Wirt counties have not been represented well enough in the past.
“I want to represent all of the people of Wood and Wirt,” he said.
Marion said he would listen. One thing he hears people say is that no one is really listening to their problems and don’t want to listen to what the people are trying to say to them.
“I am willing to listen to anyone, whether they are Republican or Democrat or independent,” he said.
Right now, COVID-19 is a concern for everyone with business stopped and people out of work.
“Everyone is going to be taking a big loss,” he said.
The state’s revenues will be down as a result.
“We will have to recover from that first,” Marion said. “Then we can get in to taking care of other problems, like roads, better pay for teachers and getting more jobs to come to the state.”
Marion said he wants to work on economic development and attracting jobs to the state.
Part of that includes improving the state’s education system.
“We need to have better pay for the teachers and we need to keep and retain good teachers,” he said adding the same goes for law-enforcement as some people are trained here and eventually go elsewhere for more pay.
“We have to get people’s pay up,” he said.
Roads are also an important part of economic development, not only building new roads, but maintaining the roads that are already there. He hears from people all the time about potholes in existing roads which never seem to be fixed.
“We need to maintain the ones we have before going into building more roads,” Marion said.
During his career, he was a member of the Teamster’s Union and has always been a strong union supporter.
“When you have good union jobs, you get better pay,” Marion said. “When you get better pay, people will be paying more taxes and the state will get more taxes.
“More money will be spent in the state.”