David Palmer of Wheeling wants to be the first professional firefighter to serve in the West Virginia Legislature.
Palmer, 52, says he will file as a Democrat to run for a 3rd District seat in the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2014. Prospective candidates begin filing for state office in West Virginia on Monday.
Palmer retired as chief investigator for the Wheeling Fire Department in 2012, and serves as code enforcer for the city of Wheeling. If elected, he said he will stay on as city code enforcer, but take an unpaid leave of absence when legislators are called into session.
"My slogan is you've trusted me with your life and property, now trust me as your delegate in Charleston." Palmer said. "I am a retired Wheeling firefighter, and we've never had a firefighter - active or retired - in the state legislature."
Palmer is the former president of Wheeling Firefighters Local 12, and in that role he lobbied state lawmakers regarding legislation affecting firefighters and fire departments.
"I have been active over the last 25 years in attending sessions, and lobbying for firefighters and assisting when I could," he said. "I always did what was in the best interest for firefighters and the city of Wheeling when lobbied for them. We were not always successful, but we did have some success."
Palmer counts among the successes being part of a group that worked on legislation providing a local means to fund Wheeling firefighter and police pension funds. The measure directs a portion of the video lottery tax collected at the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack to the city of Wheeling, where city officials have committed to placing the dollars in the police and fire pension funds.
"This money is above and beyond the normal contributions," Palmer said. "Hopefully, in the future, this money will help pay down the unfunded liability for pension funds."
Palmer started out as a deputy with the Ohio County Sheriff's Department in 1981 at age 19. While Palmer could purchase the gun he needed for his job, the law required someone older purchase his bullets.
He graduated from the West Virginia Police Academy in 1983, and moved on to the Wheeling Police Department in 1984.
In 1986, he took the opportunity to work with the Wheeling Fire Department and follow in the footsteps of his father, James Palmer, the first chief investigator for the the Wheeling Fire Department.
David Palmer is married to Tammy Donley Palmer. He has two sons, Eric and Cory; a stepdaughter, Shelby; and a granddaughter, Laila.