Republican 3rd District House of Delegates candidate Martin Sheehan doesn't agree with West Virginia Senate President Jeff Kessler that the state should set aside funds resulting from natural gas drilling activity.
The West Virginia Future Fund proposed by Kessler, D-Marshall, passed the Senate in a unanimous vote Friday, and is now before the House of Delegates. Sheehan, however, opposes its creation, noting "West Virginia has a lot of things that need fixed now."
"This money shouldn't be up in the air for a future purpose," he said. "You can't trust politicians - not even me - to not spend money that gets piled up like that."
Sheehan, 57, is clear on why he's seeking office this year.
"Government keeps doing stuff that's stupid," he said. "They keep running into issues I think are a problem. I think I can do better."
An attorney with a reputation in both criminal and bankruptcy law, Sheehan sees the need to overhaul many of the state's statutes to "make them clearer."
"I'm an attorney, and the Legislature is about making laws," he said. "I think having a few more attorneys there is a good thing because lawyers are pretty good about putting deals together, and getting those things done."
A former chairman of the Ohio County Republican Party, Sheehan is making his first run for public office.
He is a member of the state Republican Executive Committee.
Sheehan is a native of Waltham, Mass., near Boston, and he earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Tufts University in just three years. He went on to obtain a law degree from Duquesne University.
Sheehan was a clerk in the federal court in Pittsburgh prior to moving to Wheeling in 1984 to take a job in the U.S. Attorney's Office under William Kolibash. He stayed with the U.S. Attorney's Office, where he worked on the Paul Hankish case, until 1990.
Sheehan said he now works every day with clients affected by state law, and he believes some laws need amended to be more fair.
"I don't think it's cost-effective to give people with (a DUI conviction) 15 years for simple DUI," he said. "I'm happy to see those with DUI offenses punished, but we have to be more rational."
Sheehan added prosecutors often are eager to charge an alleged criminal with a felony instead of a misdemeanor to save a county government money.
Counties must assume the cost of misdemeanor prosecutions, but the state reimburses the county in felony cases, he said.
"This puts a lot of pressure on county prosecutors to charge criminals with felonies when a misdemeanor might be more appropriate," he said. "There are people who need to be punished in jail for a longer period of time. But sometimes a misdemeanor offense can be imposed earlier on (in a criminal's career) as a way to get them corrected, and see that they benefit from the process."