Local leaders meet at White House
WASHINGTON D.C. — Area county officials said they were honored to meet at the White House Thursday to discuss ways to help better the communities they serve.
Randolph County Commission President Mike Taylor and Commissioner Mark Scott were two of more than three dozen West Virginia county leaders at the White House for a day of meetings with key administration officials, including Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn, Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta, and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway.
They discussed how federal policies impact West Virginia counties and residents. Topics included the opioid epidemic, economic and workforce development, infrastructure, health care reform, local NASA programs and transportation.
“It was an honor to be invited by the White House to discuss our county’s priorities,” said Taylor. “We plan to follow up with the officials we met and continue discussions about how the federal government can help us serve county residents.”
In addition to Acosta, county commissioners heard from representatives of federal departments and agencies, including the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Small Business Administration, Veterans Affairs, Energy, Transportation, Health and Human Services and the White House Economic Council.
“This was a great opportunity for county commissioners to tell the White House about the challenges and opportunities we face at the local level,” said Vivian Parsons, executive director of the County Commissioners’ Association of West Virginia. “Federal policies have real consequences in counties across our state, and we’ll continue to work with the administration to inform those policies.”
County leaders participated in a federal policy briefing at the National Association of Counties, prior to convening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., joined the group to discuss the federal budget, tax reform, economic development and other legislative activity on Capitol Hill.
West Virginia commissioners were the sixth group of county officials to attend such an event. County leaders from Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Missouri were invited to the White House earlier this year.
Scott said the speakers at the event were informative and he believes feedback from the meeting will benefit West Virginia citizens.
“The lineup of speakers that they had was extremely informative and it was at the very top level of the Trump administration. Knowing they were listening to our concerns, they promised they would get back to us about various issues that were raised — and we understand from the other states that have already visited they are actually doing it,” Scott said. “When somebody raises a concern or somewhere they need assistance, they are actually doing it. They are researching it and calling them back. For the White House to be willing to engage at that level with county commissioners I think is vitally important and also
Scott added he had an unexpected opportunity to get a signature from Vice President Mike Pence for a local constituent.
“I received an e-mail from a constituent who had not been able to get a document signed by either the president or the vice president and within the building where we were meeting I actually had the opportunity to go to the vice president’s office and ask personally for that constituent if they could receive an autograph,” he said. “I was extremely impressed with the friendliness and professionalism of the staff in the vice president’s office. You kind of wonder when you walk in unannounced to the office of the vice president what your reception is going to be like but I couldn’t be more pleased.”