3rd Delegate District Candidates Seek Election
WHEELING – Ohio County voters will elect two delegates to represent them in Charleston when they go to the polls Nov. 3.
Delegates Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, and Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio, face challenges from Republican Dalton Haas and Democrat Ben Schneider
The two candidates that receive the most votes will be elected to a two-year term starting in 2021.
* Storch, 49, was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2010. She serves as chairwoman of the interstate cooperation and political subdivisions committees, and is a member of the finance and technology and infrastructure committees.
Storch also is employed as president of the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce.
She said she is accessible to constituents, and has established many friendships in Charleston that can help them.
“I am always trying to work for constituents — even when they are outside my base,” she said. “I reach out to them and try to make connections.
“Because of the work I have done, I have respect in Charleston where people will take my calls, and people will work to help me find the help I need for people who reach out to me…. It’s all about relationships, and I’ve developed good solid relationships.”
A member of the House Finance Committee for eight years, Storch said she is anxious to see upcoming state budget numbers. She is concerned the Legislature might have to find ways to backfill any expected tax revenue lost during the COVID pandemic.
She also believes the current environment should encourage state leaders to encourage those who can work remotely to move to West Virginia.
* Fluharty, 36, a Wheeling attorney, is completing his second term in the House of Delegates. He serves as minority vice chair of the Judiciary Committee, and is a member of the Industry and Labor Committee.
He also was recently named co-chairman of the bipartisan Tech Caucus.
“I have been a vocal fighter for the Northern Panhandle, which is often forgotten about in Charleston,” Fluharty said. “I have worked to raise revenue, not taxes. I was the first to push forward thinking legislation like sports gaming and iGaming. Both are now law and bringing new revenue into our state.”
The tech caucus has been meeting with leaders in the tech industry “with the hopes of truly making West Virginia a destination location and preparing our economy for the future,” according to Fluharty.
“The latest hyperloop announcement is a byproduct of talks with industry leaders,” he said. “I plan to continue to build on this momentum.”
* Haas turns 25 the day after the Nov. 3 general election.
He works as lead presentation specialist at Williams Lea Tag, and also serves as president of the West Virginia Hockey League and vice president of Mid-American Hockey.
“What sets me apart is that I am a newcomer bringing new innovative ideas,” Haas said. “I’m not the stagnant presence we’ve seen in Charleston. I’m a new presence that is going to bring energy and ideas to attract young people and businesses to stay right here in West Virginia.”
He wants to focus on changing the state’s tax structure to make West Virginia “a business-friendly state.”
“We have to cancel out some of the taxes we have seen that have driven people away from the state,” Haas said. “With that, infrastructure attracts new businesses. That is a major key.”
West Virginia also needs to be taking care of its workers and schools, according to Haas.
* Schneider, 73, wants to bring a moral and constituent-based focus to Charleston.
He is a photographer who operates Ben Schneider Fine Art studio in Wheeling. He first became involved with photography while serving with the 3rd Infantry in the U.S. Army, and presently is a member of the Civil Air Patrol.
“I’m honest. That’s unusual in government these days,” Schneider said. “I care more about society than I do myself. I am not selfish. I never do anything just for me — which is also very unusual in government.
“I don’t take any campaign donations, so I don’t need to pay back any favors.”
He said those elected “need to think about the state more than themselves.”
“I haven’t seen that in recent years,” Schneider said. “It seems to me when people go to Charleston it’s all about bringing home … for themselves, and not trying to make the state a better state. I’m offended by that. There’s too much self-interest in the Legislature.”
West Virginia also needs a fair redistricting plan, according to Schneider.