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West Virginia GOP Candidates Speak At Forum in Wheeling

Photo by Joselyn King Scott Reed, Republican candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates, 3rd District, left, speaks with U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., following a candidate forum Tuesday night at River City Ale Works in Wheeling.

WHEELING — Many Republicans seeking office on the Nov. 8 general election ballot convened in Wheeling Tuesday night to tell the public why they should be elected.

The Ohio County Republican Executive Committee hosted the candidate forum at River City Ale Works, with U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley serving as moderator.

“What I particularly like about supporting and endorsing these candidates is they could be doing something else. They’re not looking for a career,” McKinley said. “They want to provide public service. They want to help our country, and they want to help our state. While other people may have other agendas, I’m particularly moved by them. Because when you get to this arena with public service, people come down hard on you.”

“We don’t need this pressure,” he continued. “What we need is people like we have here tonight. They’re willing to step up, get out of their comfort zones and make America better.”

Delegate Mark Zatezalo, R-Hancock, a geologist, said he first sought a House seat two years ago because he believed the emergence of the shale industry would be important to the Ohio Valley.

“I am very hopeful that we’ll use some of our fuel, and we have cheap feed stock for cracker plants,” he said. “Now it’s time to get busy and use it here and bring business and something for our children.”

John Powell, candidate for Ohio County Sheriff, told of his background working detail for a White House cabinet secretary’s security team, his service in the Navy and his position as commander of the U.S. Naval Academy’s police department.

He vowed to address the issue of drugs in the community if elected sheriff by initiating a street crimes unit for the department.

Its sole purpose would be to make the lives of drug dealers “miserable,” according to Powell.

“I’m not Superman — it’s not a one-man job,” he said. “We have to talk, and we have to be engaged at all levels.”

Scott Reed, candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates, 3rd District, said he believes the No. 1 priority of the Legislature should be job creation.

“Forbes Magazine ranks West Virginia last as the best place to do business,” he said. “We need to change West Virginia, and elevate our expectations.”

Mac Warner, candidate for secretary of state, addressed the issue of fraudulent elections in some southern West Virginia communities.

He promised to pursue any reports of irregularities at the ballot box, and to clean up voter registration rolls.

“Now Donald Trump is talking about fraudulent elections, and making this an issue,” he said. “It doesn’t take rampant fraud to change significant elections. Think about it. Our president in 2000 was decided by 500 votes in the state of Florida. … In Wood County, the county clerk’s election was elected by just five votes. There are opportunities for irregularities in this state.”

Delegate Erikka Storch, R-Ohio, said she enjoys being the liaison between Ohio County residents and businesses and Charleston.

She holds a masters degree in business education, and serves as president of the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce.

“I have enjoyed serving on the finance committee, and dissecting every figure in our budget,” she said. “Sadly, there are not too many black numbers in our budget right now, so we need to really have people who understand the numbers and the process.”

Ann Urling of Charleston, candidate for state treasurer, is making her first run for public office.

She is the senior vice president of Summit Community Bank.

“While I’m new to the world of politics, I am not new to the world of banking, management and leadership,” she said. “The treasurer is CFO of the state, and it makes sense to have someone in the job with 30 years of experience.”

J.B. McCuskey is seeking the office of state auditor. He said the state needs an auditor who understands property transactions, and he is a property transactions attorney.

“We have a sordid history in West Virginia of mismanaging your money,” he said. “I think businesses know this. To get our economy going again,we’re going to have show businesses that we mean business and will only do what’s right with their money. I don’t think anyone wants to invest in a place where they are afraid their tax dollars will be wasted.”

State Sen. Kent Leonhardt, R-Monongalia, is a candidate for commissioner of agriculture.

He described himself as “a Marine, a farmer and a state senator.”

Leonhardt said a major aspect of the commissioner’s job is ensuring food security.

“Did everybody eat today?” he asked those present. “You need to care about who your commissioner of agriculture is.”

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