Participating candidates were issued ten questions and given one week to respond to 3-4 questions of their choosing. Responses are not edited. They are copied and pasted directly from submission. Responses are listed below by office, then alphabetically by last name.

Putnam County Primary Election Written Forum

County Commission

Candidate Name: Steve Deweese

First and foremost, I would like to thank both the Putnam County Chamber and Rotary Club for hosting this Candidate Forum. With that being said, I believe all ten (10) questions are equally important as a Commissioner Candidate but will only address three to four as the instructions dictate which are embodied within my platform.

Question: What is your vision for Putnam County?

Infrastructure Improvement Investment in Our Families Future – We have a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to use the millions of dollars we will be receiving from the federal government to make sure all of Putnam County has adequate water, sewer, and broadband.

I will make sure the projects we support are fair to all parts of the county and used responsibly to make sure we’re investing in a place that will keep our families here at home and not see our children leaving at their first opportunity.

Questions: What makes you the most qualified candidate for the position?

Leadership, Experienced, Accountability, Dedicated (LEAD)
I have over 30 years experience in County, City, and Federal government (US Army). I served eight (8) years as your County Sheriff and was the Treasurer for the county. Further, am retired Command Sergeant Major as of December 2017, and have a degree in Cooperate Leadership. You won’t find a more conservative servant and I fully understand what it takes to be a good steward of your tax dollars, while keeping up with the changes our county faces.

While in office and having served two terms, I presented the department budget to the County Commission for eight consecutive years having the most budgets of any elected official and personnel of any department head.

Lastly, as a 30 year veteran of Law Enforcement and a lifelong resident of Putnam County, there is not another candidate running in this race that KNOWS this county better than me.

Question: How do you plan to support the locally owned businesses in our county?

I am PRO-BUSINESS for our County. Like you, I want to sustain businesses that we currently have and maintain growth of any new business at the same time; however, we must do this safely for our residents/children and systematically ensure growth in the rural areas of the county. As you know, there is nothing like a “Mom & Pops” store to do visit or conduct business with.

Question: How do you plan to address issues relating to planning and zoning?

As your County Commissioner, safety in its entirety would be my focus. I believe multiple factors should be investigated and considered before making any decisions for our residents or businesses.

    1. Safety concerns for families and children that currently reside in the immediate area specifically, property crime.
    2. Safety concerns for increased traffic along any portion of the roadway or highway in the immediate area.
    3. Decrease and/or depreciation of the tax payers residence or Real Property.

 

Candidate Name: Todd Dillion

Question: What is your vision for Putnam County?

Putnam County must continue to grow and attract new residents and businesses, but the growth must be done the right way and with our residents in mind.

With the completion of 35, our attention on growth must be focused on the 35 corridor and specifically the Fraziers Bottom community.

Fiber connectivity must be prioritized in our underserved areas to ensure we have the highest level of high-speed internet penetration in our county. This will allow for better educational outcomes for our students and open more areas for residential & commercial expansion. We must also hold our internet carriers accountable for the quality of service they provide.

Putnam County needs to be the standard for all counties across the state. We should have exceptional expectations for quality of life, safety, and health.

Our parks should be maintained at high levels and new recreational opportunities should be pursued using currently unutilized land. Our parks and recreation, along with public safety are critical quality of life components that I will not ignore.

Questions: What makes you the most qualified for this position?

My life and decisions are centered in my faith. The decisions I make and the way I conduct myself as a resident and as an elected servant will be made with the upmost integrity and character.

Career financial experience matters. From a financial planning, analysis, and execution perspective, I’ve handled complex budgets of 8 or 9 figure amounts in multiple dynamic industries including Government & in Cable/Internet.

A new face matters. It is important for those who represent us to not be tied into what benefits them and their buddies over what’s best for the people of Putnam County. This role should serve our residents, not serve themselves. If you are excited by someone with a new perspective who hasn’t been in politics, I know a candidate for you.

Throughout my career I’ve worked with a variety of teams and personality types. We must all have a partnership approach to what we do. The county commission is no better than any other county organization or group and I will ensure that our partnerships with the courthouse, sheriff’s dept., other county departments, and our various cities and towns are strong. We are one county.

Question: How do you plan to be accessible to your constituents?

This is a critical area for our residents. Sticking exclusively to email or twice a month meeting doesn’t allow the flexibility needed for residents to voice their concerns.

I would ensure there is accessibility in a variety of ways. The opportunity to meet at the county building as well as more casual environments.

I would like to start an initiative to walk with the commissioner where we have opportunities to walk and talk together at different points in the county whether it be at our parks, at high school tracks, or around parking lots. This promotes health and wellness and a less formal way for residents to be heard.

My campaign page would also be available to submit questions for those needing that as an option.

Questions: How do you plan to address issues related to planning and zoning?

This is a core tenant of my campaign. Our growth and focus on commercial expansion must be along the interstate exits and on 35. Our residents, particularly in Teays Valley, are tired of being rezoned in the name of supporting commercial growth. In communities where we have ample commercially zoned space available, we should not be rezoning residential space as it sits up against neighborhood communities. This leads to increased traffic and safety risks, a decrease in home values and overall worse quality of life. Our residents need a voice and I’m excited to provide that.

Our long-term plans and current regulations must be reassessed to ensure they still make sense given the changes our county and state have seen in the last 20 years. We must prepare ourselves and 35 to receive an influx of those looking to relocate from northern states and neighboring communities.

As it relates to the planning and zoning boards, we must have better representation from residents. They need a seat at the table, and they will be provided that opportunity to serve and have a voice in how their county grows.

Video 

Candidate Name: Ron Foster

Question: What is your vision for Putnam County?

Putnam County should always be the leader in West Virginia when it comes to County management. Providing the best services at the lowest cost when compared to other counties has and will continue to be prioritized under my leadership.

We will continue to make progress utilizing my simple ABC strategy. A (Accountability) It is important to recruit and place the best people possible on Boards and Commissions working within the County and hold them accountable. B (Business) We will run the County like a business, keeping taxes low while providing the necessary services for our residents and businesses. C (Connectivity) We will move our County into the future by providing the lowest cost, highest quality broadband service with multiple service providers as possible.

My vision includes the expansion of Putnam PSD to provide water and sewer to more parts of the County, including an expansion allowing us to capitalize on the Nucor Steel facility planned for Apple Grove. We plan to extend service North on Route 817 opening a large amount of land for residential and commercial development to help Putnam County attract employees from the mill and ancillary businesses that will benefit from new opportunities the mill presents. Expanding Putnam PSD where necessary to take advantage of opportunities provided by the opening of Route 35 will remain a priority.

We are continuing the upgrades to our 911 EMS system by improving and adding new and taller towers at Confidence, Kale Properties, Coal Mountain, Hurricane and Winfield. We will also repurpose our current Winfield tower to provide necessary service to Poca and surrounding areas. All towers will be of sufficient structure allowing us to lease space on the towers for multiple internet and mobile phone service providers. Connecting fiber to all towers will allow us to provide nearly universal microwave service in areas where fiber cannot connect directly to homes and businesses.

As a founder of multiple construction related businesses in Putnam County, I am in a unique position to help the County move forward on these projects. During the construction of Valley Park, I recruited additional bidders saving the County over $494,000 when one of them was the low bidder. Additional decisions related to the pool closing and change orders on the project saved the County over half a million additional dollars. My experience will be invaluable as we progress with plans the County has for our future.

Question: What is your short-term and long-term business recruitment plan?

During the early stages of Covid we reduced the tax levy rate in Putnam County by 5% to relieve the burden on our businesses operating within the County and to encourage new businesses to locate here. Additionally, we removed and updated outdated ordinances to be more friendly to local businesses. We will continue to make changes necessary to make job creators feel welcome while protecting our residents. We will continue to make necessary changes to zoning and planning by adapting to ever changing community and social needs along with new business opportunities.

My goal is to provide the best quality utilities and broadband access for our businesses in the short-term and long-term. A lack of quality and choice for those services increases difficulty in recruitment of new businesses and retaining current employers. With our new 911 EMS tower upgrades including fiber to cell towers, we will be able to lease space on our towers to multiple service providers covering almost the entire county. This in turn will open large areas of additional property in Putnam

County for residential and commercial development. In many areas of the county, we will work with Putnam PSD to extend service to areas not currently served.

I will always make myself available to work with prospective employers encouraging them to consider Putnam County as their home. My experience with founding and growing my own businesses as well as purchasing and selling multiple businesses is invaluable when attempting to attract new businesses to Putnam County.

With successful retention and recruitment of existing and new employers we will be able to have local jobs for our children and grandchildren. Leaving home to find a job will be a choice, not a necessity. We will continue to utilize a new procedure put in place when I joined the County Commission, recruiting bidders on county projects not just placing advertisements in the Hurricane Breeze or buying off of a state contract. This method has saved the county countless thousands of dollars over the last 5 plus years and utilized more Putnam County businesses at a lower cost to the county.

Question: How do you plan to address issues related to planning and zoning?

One of the most important aspects of the County Commission is to properly plan for growth and expansion within the county. With proper planning and zoning we can provide an environment which allows our children and grandchildren opportunities for jobs and homes in Putnam County.

My goal is to take all fifty-seven thousand plus residents of Putnam County’s welfare into consideration. It is important to listen to residents that are most directly affected while considering the benefit to the entire county. We owe it to the next generation to allow them the same opportunities we have had through future planning, zoning, and growth. Sometimes it takes courage to make tough decisions affecting our residents. Ordinances must be modified when they are outdated. Zoning must change when it was not done correctly in the beginning or when significant changes have taken place.

As we plan our growth it is the role of the County Commission to work with utilities and WVDOH to provide services necessary for growth. Our current broadband buildout will be essential for proper growth now and into the future.

 



Circuit Clerk

Candidate Name: Stephanie Smith 

Question: What makes you the most qualified candidate for the position?

I am the most qualified candidate for this position because I am the only one with working knowledge of the office. I have been an employee of the Circuit Clerk’s office since July 2012. In January 2018, I was appointed by the late Ronnie Matthews as the Chief Deputy Clerk and Office Manager. Prior to my current position, I worked in each department as well as in the Courtroom as the clerk for our Circuit Judges.

In addition to the above, I have attended each WVACo and WV Circuit Clerk’s Association conferences since 2018. At these conferences, Clerk’s from all across this state gather to discuss new legislation that directly affects our offices and brainstorm ideas of how we can better the functions and performance of the Circuit Clerk’s office.

In February 2020, along with the Supreme Court team, I streamlined the CourtPlus initiative here in Putnam County. This system has provided attorneys and judges alike the ability to submit pleadings 24/7/365.

Question:  How do you plan to be accessible to your constituents?

I plan to be in the office each day to ensure the proper procedures are being followed in the Circuit Clerk’s office. Even now in my current position, I can always be found in the Judicial Building. If I am not in my office or do not have my cell phone handy, the staff knows how to reach me so I can quickly aid a litigant or attorney at the public window.

As to forms, I continue to improve the accessibility for Pro Se litigants. In 2020, I helped install a Kardex machine which stores all the approved forms given to each Clerk’s office by the Supreme Court of WV. Also, I have created a Facebook page that has quick links for the same forms to be printed at home. Upon completion, the parties can return those forms to the Clerk’s office to be notarized and processed.

Question:  How do you feel we could better support our students and prepare them for the next steps after high school?

As to the Judicial system, I believe more information regarding how to prepare legal documents, resources provided to the public, and an overall better understanding of how the Courts work would greatly benefit our youth. The common misconception is that the Court is the “bad guy” and that is clearly not the case. The Circuit Clerk’s office is here to provide the public with procedural knowledge of the Court system when filing a pleading. We are here to ensure the pleadings submitted by counsel and Pro Se litigants are maintained properly. We are here to be the Court’s record keeper.

It is the Court’s responsibility to rule based upon case law and it is our job as Circuit Clerk’s and Deputy Clerk’s office to record those decisions.

I believe with a stronger understanding of the Judicial system on a state and local level would provide our youth with the knowledge to not only feel confident in themselves but hold them more accountable for their actions to aid them in their future.

Candidate Name: Michael Thompson

Question: What makes you the most qualified candidate for Circuit Clerk of Putnam County?

I believe my degree in Criminal Justice and background in leadership and managerial roles make me the most qualified candidate for Circuit Clerk of Putnam County. I have worked extensively at problem solving, budgeting, and communicating with customers, contractors, engineers, and managers. I have a history of learning the policies and procedures and becoming an asset to my employers quickly. At Mountaineer Gas I was told that training typically took 2-6 months, but they tested and cleared me to work on my own after 3 weeks. At my current job, I tripled the sales in my territory the first year and added an additional 20% the following year. With my position as President of Putnam County Gun Club, I have been responsible for overseeing grant requests through the NRA; negotiating and hiring multiple contractors; and working with the Putnam County Commission on several occasions.

Question: What is your vision for Putnam County as it pertains to the Circuit Clerks office?

My vision is for Putnam County to have the best Circuit Clerk’s office in the state. I want to see us not only have a positive impact for the judges, attorneys, litigants, and general public in Putnam County; but to provide support and ideas for improvement in other counties and at the state level as well. I am and have always been a problem solver and good communicator. I believe I will be able to address some of the issues I am aware of and recognize other areas for improvement quickly; determine if they are procedural, personnel, or communication problems; and begin to make improvements almost immediately.

Question: How do you plan be accessible to your constituents?

I plan to learn all aspects of the Circuit Clerk’s office and be able to personally answer the questions and concerns of the judges, attorneys, litigants, and public. Many of the people that deal with the Circuit Clerk’s office are going through the worst experience of their lives and have no idea what they are doing or should be doing next. I plan to have all the Deputy Clerks and myself work with a sense of urgency and empathy when working with those unfamiliar with the court system. I believe good communication goes a long way and can help relieve some of the stress involved.

Video

Candidate Name: Donald Lee Underwood

Question: What makes you the most qualified candidate for the position?

I started my career in law enforcement in 1973 with the West Virginia State Police (WVSP). From the beginning of my police career, I was involved in collecting and the protecting of confidential records that could be used in a court of law. After retiring from the WVSP, I went to work for the Poca Police Department where I kept investigative and crash reports. (record keeping). I have also worked for the WV Division of Highways, headquartered in Charleston, as a claim investigator for the legal department; here I made reports on investigations on rockslides, flooding damage to state owned property etc. (record keeping inspections and safety). At the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority WVRJA, my experience with safety inspections and safety training led to my position of Director of Risk Management.

My past experience and education have prepared me for taking on the role of Putnam County Circuit Clerk. I am ready for the responsibility for the protection of all papers in the office of Circuit Clerk including being the registrar, recorder and custodian of all pleadings, documents and funds pertaining to cases filed in the circuit court”.

Other education and work experience that makes me qualified for this position are:

Graduate of WV State College (University) with a Board of Regents

Marshall University Masters in Safety

Thomas Cooley Law School Doctorate in Juris Prudence

I have worked in the Putnam County Courthouse as a Bailiff – Where I have met many of the people who work in the Courthouse including the Circuit Clerk’s Office.

Charles Dickens has said it so beautifully how I felt about every work endeavor I have been involved in:

“Whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do it well; whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself completely; in great aims and in small I have always thoroughly been in earnest.”

Question: What is your plan to keep young West Virginias from leaving?

Interaction with our youth at a young age. I was the Assistant Cubmaster and then Cubmaster of Pack 162 in Poca at the Baptist Church. We provided a safe environment for our young boys, siblings and parents to enjoy learning scouting skills. By taking family camping trips in West Virginia and by using the skills learned, I believe we demonstrated what makes West Virginia such a unique place to stay and work in.

Besides the Boyscouts program, Putnam County has a Girlscout program, a 4-H program, and a new program that just recently started at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Hurricane called “Trail Life”.

My plan is to support and encourage participation in the above programs and also the extracurricular programs offered by our schools. I believe these young people will seek opportunities related to their experiences in the activities they were involved in. This involvement may lead to them seeking and/or developing a career in relation to their experiences.

Question: How do you feel we could better support our students and prepare them for the next steps after high school?

When I was in high school two of the programs that I benefited the most from was 4-H and the Future Farmers of America (FFA). The 4-H program allowed me to travel around our state to meet and learn about the different areas of the state. I also was instructed in public speaking skills which I continue to use today.

The FFA taught me skills in farming, raising livestock, and many other basic skills. I learned how an organization operates, leadership skills, I also served as our parliamentarian for our local FFA club.

We didn’t have a vocational career and technical center in my county when I was in high school. I would encourage all students to avail themselves in this program by exploring different work possibilities. One of the worst things that can happen to a student after high school is go to college and get a degree to find out that they are in the wrong job. The Putnam Career and Technical Center could give every student the opportunity to experience a job before investing in the wrong degree in college.



Board of Education

Candidate Name: Melissa Oxley
District 3

Question: What makes you the most qualified candidate for the position?

* My oldest child is 17 and a Junior at Hurricane High School. My younger child is 13 and is currently homeschooling through an online virtual academy for mental health reasons. Navigating the inner workings of our school system throughout the years, I feel like I have had an in-depth view of our 504 and IEP programs. I have had many meetings with teachers, principals and BOE employees regarding different challenges my children have faced with both physical and mental health issues.

* I have lived and worked in Putnam County for 20 years. I plan to retire here as well. My choice to live here was partly based of the school system’s reputation at the time. I have watched it deteriorate in certain ways and excel in others, throughout the years. We need more consistency, but we also need to evolve. I can see challenges from a fresh perspective and provide creative solutions.

* I am a multi-tasker by nature. In addition to my career, I have done/am doing the following:

* I have been an Executive Board Member for the Christian Community Cupboard where we saved it from running in debt to being able to expand services and remodel the building to better serve the community.

* I am a former Girl Scout Leader of 10 years, which is a dedication to the development of young girls through STEAM, Community Service, and personal growth. The troop I started in 2009 is still currently active and continuing to help our community.

* I am currently on the Board for The Lilly Reunion (the largest Family Reunion in the state and has been in the World Record book for the largest in the World in past)

* I have also won The President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2019

* At the start of the pandemic, I helped to start a Facebook group that assisted parents in Putnam County with getting timely, accurate information regarding all the changes that occurred. This included computer/tablet distribution, technical issues with Schoology and Teams, MiFi distributions, decision making help in the Fall of 2020 between virtual and inperson, etc. We have kept this group open, and it is still helping with Schoology concerns and such. The group has maintained a membership of close to 1,000.

* Most importantly, I plan to use experts in the field to help guide decisions in the best interest of our student, teachers, and community. No one person is an expert in all fields, and we should be utilizing those that know the most in a particular area to help guide our decisions.

Question: How do you plan to be accessible to your constituents?

I plan to continue my social media platforms and email to create an open form of communication with parents, teachers, and other staff. I have seen what a lack of communication can do when we need answers. That will not happen on my watch. I also plan to regularly tour schools, meet with teachers and staff, as well as talk with parents and listen to concerns. We can’t fix what we don’t see or hear is happening. We also can’t understand how to fix a problem without the direct involvement of the parties it involves.

 Question: What is your plan to keep young West Virginians from leaving?

I would love to involve career shadowing in our high school curriculum. I am learning now, by having a Junior in High School, that there is very little guidance for children that do not have a firm path selected. We need to encourage more “in the field” exploration and encourage local professionals to assist with this to help our older children become more engaged. This could also grow into employment opportunities by giving the child experience in the field before they have completed high school. We have some great opportunities like this already but that could be expanded to more than just the medical and technical fields.

Question: How do you feel we could better support our students and prepare them for the next steps after high school?

I would reference back to my previous question’s answer. Giving our children a more engaged career exploration option would help them to choose a more direct path with their high school education, higher education path and hopefully a career opportunity in WV. Preparing our children for their desired career and giving them a full view into that career is key to their education being successful. I was not given this when I was in High School. I went to college for a degree that I no longer use. Although it was a fun career path, I had the plan to stay in WV and I was not advised that it was not a very lucrative path in this state. I had to re-educate and start over 10 years later, after learning the hard way and owing a lot of money in school loans for a degree that is no longer used. Avoiding this could help give our children a much more successful future both in their career and in their financial future.



State Senate

Candidate Name: Mark Mitchem
District 8

Question: What makes you the most qualified candidate for the position?

I’m not going to say that I am the best candidate for this position however ever since I can remember people have always said when they are running for office I’m going to do this and that and once they are in office it changes instead of doing what they say goes out the doors and it’s all about the paycheck . Well with me I try no matter what I do I pray over it and whatever God say that’s what should be done and YES ma’am I am a Christian and I try my best daily to do what is needed what God lets me do now with that being said IF I get the seat and I see what needs to be done with God’s help and the people that also vote helps me then it’ll be done with God all things are possible so to answer that question if God helps me and the people of Putnam co votes to pass it then it should be done .

Question: How to do plan to address workforce development issues?

When it comes to the workforce in WV there’s really not alot of jobs here to start with coal miners,  Logging, working for the state and or the county , and most people that have homes that they are renting are paying 500 to 1200 if not more and it’s taking all of there hard earning money to pay for this and not ever job pays alot . I do believe if we can get better PAYING jobs we would be okay and drug test everyone it shouldn’t matter if you are the CEO or a king if we can get better PAYING jobs with great benefits I think it will fix those issues .

Question: How do you feel we could better support our students and prepare them for the next steps after high school?

Please let me start by saying I graduated high school in clay co I think I done just about every class in that school and was told that I would use the education for everything in life and to be honest I’m 33 now been out of school for I’d say 19 years Im not sure but anyways we need to find out what kids are wanting to be or do after high school and teach them that


 

House of Delegates

Candidate Name: Jim Butler
District 18

Question: What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

As a military veteran and a small local business owner I have been involved in public policy for many years. Even before considering running for office I worked to advance job and business opportunities for West Virginians. I helped make public the, poorly devised, plan to toll Route 35, and worked with others in our community to ensure that it was not tolled.

One of my first initiative as a new member of the House Transportation Committee in 2013 was to work to pass the public private partnership plan, which funded construction of Route 35. Now it is complete and we are not stopping to pay eight dollars or more in tolls each time we travel on it. The completion of Route 35 through Mason and Putnam Counties was a necessity for safety, as well as providing tremendous economic opportunities for our community. I have to give my friend, and House colleague, Scott Cadle a lot of credit since we worked together to get this done.

I have eight years of experience serving the people of this House District. I served as a pro-jobs, pro-business, small government representative when the Democrats were still in the majority. I learned to evaluate legislation carefully, how to amend it when beneficial, and how to stop it when necessary.  By the way, in 8 years of service in the House I never missed a vote.

As a member of the new Republican majority elected in 2014, I worked with fellow conservatives to make many reforms to reduce unnecessary regulations, make legal reforms, and put West Virginia in the running for large job creating manufacturers like Nucor, as well as helping small businesses. We’ve made great progress in recent years and my experience and work ethic will help make further improvements for West Virginians.

Question: What is your plan to keep young West Virginians from leaving? and What initiatives do you have to expand the quality of life for residents?

The first steps to keeping young West Virginians from leaving are to promote public policies that strengthen families. As we all know, too often children are raised in broken families, with drug, alcohol, and other issues plaguing them. I personally experienced this as a child, but after joining the Marine Corps and traveling many areas of the US and the world I realized that West Virginia truly is a wonderful place to live. West Virginia is a conservative, family based state and we need to become the best we can be, rather that trying to become California, Florida or some other place that is romanticized.

We must continue creating jobs and business opportunities where young people can work and grow in careers they love. The new internet based economy is key to opportunities in our rural state where young and old can develop home based careers and businesses. Broad band development is increasingly important to West Virginia and we need to prioritize state investment in this area. To accomplish this without tax increases we will need to trim unnecessary spending.

Another step is to promote all the wonderful recreational activities available in West Virginia. I am here, and my children are here, because we developed a love of outdoor activities. We hunt, fish, hike, snowboard, and motorcycle ride on wonderful winding roads, just to name a few. There are many cultural opportunities which are overlooked, along with shopping and other activities; all available without the terrible traffic congestion and expenses found in other states.

We need to promote all the great aspects of our state to our own citizens, as we also promote our state to the nation, and the world.

Expanded – What initiatives do you have to expand the quality of life for residents.

Keeping families together is perhaps the most important aspect of quality of life. One of the best parts of being a parent or grandparent is having our children nearby, and watching them succeed in their own families and careers.

Government policy can help in a number of ways:

As previously discussed we need a great family environment, career opportunities for young and older people, and recreational opportunities.

We need to enact public policy that rewards work. We need to do all we can to ensure that people are protected from increasing crime and drug abuse. West Virginia should not build our economy based on alcohol, drugs, and other harmful behaviors which ultimately destroy our families.

Good comprehensive health care has become even more important. Health care needs to become more about care for patients, and must allow people to choose healthcare that works for their particular needs.

We need to prioritize government spending, eliminating unnecessary cost, and applying state resources to maintaining roads, developing water and other public utilities such as broadband.

 

Candidate Name: Kathie Hess Crouse
District 19

Question: What is your vision for Putnam County?

I want to see Putnam County continue to grow. Putnam is an amazing sleeper community, I want to see that expand, especially with businesses coming in close by like Nucor and Green Power. We need to grow our housing and continue to offer great schools, outdoor and community activities, low crime rate, friendly people and much more. I think we do need to try to bring in more shopping and restaurants. Once people spend a little time in Putnam – like me, they fall in love. 

Question: What makes you the most qualified candidate for the position?

I am the current Delegate for District 13 (new District 19). I have been actively involved around Putnam for many years. I am an active member in Rotary of Putnam County, Putnam County Republican Women, and Putnam County Republican Club. I have been active in community activities for the last 20 years. I am fair and open minded. I have children, have had a career, have been to college, have many years of life experiences. I have helped bring jobs and people to WV. I have made tough decisions as well as easy ones. I am strong in my beliefs and not swayed.

 Question: How do you plan to be accessible to your constituents?

I give my cell to everyone. I can be reached on the phone, by text, on Facebook, On Signal, On Telegram, on LinkdIn, my office, at home, in the community, by email, You name it, and I am usually accessible by it

Questions: What is your short-term and long-term business recruitment plan?

I plan on continuing what we are doing in the House of Delegates, making WV Business Friendly by lowering taxes and regulations on businesses and the people of WV.

Candidate Name: Jarred Cannon
District 21

Question: How do you plan to be accessible to your constituents?

Constituent service is something often overlooked by elected officials serving in legislative roles. Lawmakers should serve as the direct voice of the folks they represent making feedback from the community very important. If elected, I’m always a text, email, social media message or call to my personal cell phone away from anyone who wants to reach me.

Question: What is your plan to keep young West Virginias from leaving?

West Virginia has the potential to be the best place in the country for a young, conservative person to come live and work in. To do that, we must make ourselves the most attractive place in the country to raise a family, changing our tax code to reward parents who have children, especially in the first few years of their life. We should end West Virginia’s tax penalty on marriage which takes money out of the pockets of working families every year. In addition, we have to leverage more of our natural resources including natural gas, metallurgical and steam coal, timber and more to create good, high-paying jobs for our young people to fill.

Question: How do you feel we could better support our students and prepare them for the next steps after high school?

We have to make sure that every single child has a number of choices available to them for their K-12 education including public, private and homeschooling. On-the-job training and career & technical education (CTE) programs should be expanded for high school students. We should also work with local businesses to create direct pipeline programs for students to intern during high school and move directly into the workforce after graduation.

Question: What initiatives do you have to expand the quality of life for residents?

The state has taken tremendous steps forward in broadband expansion over the last few years, but it still isn’t enough. Nearly all of Putnam County is limited to one or two options for internet providers who aren’t held appropriately accountable for their performance. We should enforce strict and significant penalties against industries that repeatedly fail to uphold their promises to customers. 

The state also has a tremendous amount of dollars coming in over the next decade from the federal government that has to be allocated to physical infrastructure. We must ensure that we use this money responsibly and on common-sense, high-need projects. The state’s Department of Transportation should create online tracking systems to allow for more transparency and community-based input involving ongoing and planned projects.