Ryan Weld, a 33-year-old law student and military veteran from Wellsburg, said he will seek a seat in the House of Delegates representing West Virginia's 2nd District.
Weld works as a legal assistant for the Brooke County Prosecutor's Office as he pursues a law degree from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. He is also a U.S. Air Force veteran who volunteered to be deployed to Afghanistan for several months during 2010-11, where he served as an intelligence officer for a "provincial reconstruction team" tasked with improving schools, hospitals and infrastructure.
Weld, who moved to Washington, D.C., in 2003 and returned to live in Brooke County following his return from Afghanistan, said his time away from the area played a major role in his decision to get involved with politics.
"When I came home in 2011 from my deployment, I came back to a West Virginia and this area specifically that was much different from the one I left, and I was disheartened by what I saw: the lack of economic development," Weld said.
He said he's seen too many childhood friends leave the area for opportunities in other parts of the country, and too many industries fail.
"The state, I think, needs to look at our tax structure and are we keeping competitive with our corporate taxes," Weld said. "Are we driving businesses away with our tax laws, our insurance regulations, those sorts of things."
The GOP needs a net gain of just four seats to gain a majority in the House of Delegates for the first time since 1930 - a fact that is not lost on Weld.
"I see that through 80 years of one-party rule in this state, of the Democratic Party, they've kind of restrained us from achieving all that we can, both as a district as a state. ... I want this district to be on the lead of that, and help bring about that change that we know can happen," he said.
Weld is a 1998 graduate of Brooke High School and holds a degree in political science from Fairmont State University. He is chairman of the Wellsburg Urban Redevelopment Authority and president of the Brooke County Veterans Memorial Foundation.
Prior to his deployment, he served as executive officer to the director of congressional and public affairs of the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, and before that as an "educational advocate" for The Washington Center, a non-profit organization that offers students opportunities to work in the nation's capital for academic credit.
The 2nd District includes most of Brooke County and a small portion of Ohio County.