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Four running for House of Delegates seats

Bill Hartman

“During my tenure in the House of Delegates I have been involved in many issues that have been very difficult and very important to the state and our citizens … workers comp reform, medical malpractice reform, pension reform and many others. But in my opinion the next session of the Legislature will make those issues look unimportant.

“The COVID-19 pandemic will eventually affect every aspect of our society. As we move forward, we will be faced with issues that we have never thought about in the past. Since mid-March the unbelievable pressure that people have experienced will alter their personal choices and their tolerance for change in the future.

“As we move forward from the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic there will be many issues that must be faced as we try to transition to our “new normal.” The definition of the new normal will be written as we seek the answers to many new issues. The most critical for the coming legislative session will be the economy (the budget), healthcare delivery, and unemployment. Other issues will be opioid crisis, education, roads, environmental issues and many social issues that were created by the pandemic.

“We must still address the balance of government. A lot of things are not new issues, loss of population, senior issues, loss of work force, foster care and many more. We must determine how the new norm is going to affect our existing business, industrial and tourism base and make the adjustments necessary for them to remain viable. No one has ever experienced the economic or political affect that the pandemic has imposed on our country.

“As we move forward into an election cycle that itself has been altered by COVID-19, we must remain positive and remember that the actions that we take are going to redefine our lifestyle for many years to come. Not only our personal lifestyle but the future of our state. There is no question that we must have strong, experienced, proven leadership to address the decisions that will define our future.

“My record of success while serving in positions of leadership of many organizations will be very valuable as we move to take the actions that will reshape our future of our state. Whether as Chamber president, chairman of the Coalition for Corridor H or trustee of my church my goal was always a positive outcome for the organization and the community.

“The objective of my public service, both public and political, has always been to make my community and state a better place to live, work and raise a family. I believe that the changes that we have seen in our country in the last 60 days is evidence that strong experienced leadership is an absolute requirement.

“This is not a time for divisiveness. We must come together and do what is required overcome the devastating effects of COVID-19. We must put aside partisanship and seek the common good.

“I want to say thank you for the support that I have had in the past and ask for your vote on Nov. 3. I pledge to continue my full-time support of the citizens of the 43rd District.”

1) In your opinion, what is the biggest issue currently facing the residents of District 43?

C0VID-19 has upended the economy of the entire country and it is no different in the 43rd district. In my opinion trying to determine what the “new normal” will be and how to deal with it may be our most important issue. We must remain flexible as we seek answers to this most complicated situation. I fear that our community will look much different after the “new normal” is finally defined.

2) How can you as a delegate help local businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Constituent service will become more important as we seek answers for the future. I will have to be more aware of what programs are available to assist in the recovery. Communication will become move important as we move forward. Close cooperation between community organizations will also be important. We must do what we can to assist in the recovery of tourism for our entire region.

3) What is a problem that West Virginia has that has been spotlighted this year by the pandemic, and what can be done to solve it?

One of the most serious issues for our region is the affect that COVID-19 has had on tourism. Tourism recovery may be the quickest way to get our local economy restarted. The fact that the railroad has not been able to operate this summer has had a very negative affect on downtown businesses, particularly hotels and restaurants. As we seek answers for recovery, we must look to what we want the future of our region to look like. Both Pocahontas and Randolph rely heavily on tourism we have to do whatever is necessary to insure a speedy recovery for them. The 43rd has more tourist attractions than any other region of the state… national AND state forests, state parks, Snowshoe Resort, tourist railroad, many fairs and festivals, Greenbank Observatory, just to name a few. The contribution that tourism makes to the economy of the region is significate. We must do what is necessary to protect these tourist assets.

Cody Thompson

“My name is Cody H. Thompson and I was born and live in Elkins currently. I was raised in the Alpena/Sully area by my parents, Lanny and Kim Thompson.

“I learned the value of hard work from my parents with my dad working in the mining (UMWA) and construction industries (IOUE132) and my mom working in the medical field until she retired. I spent the summers working on my grandparent’s farm in Sully or helping out at the family store in Bemis.

“I attended and graduated from Harman High School, Marshall University with a B.A. in Secondary Social Studies Education, and West Virginia University with a M.A. in Multi-Categorical Special Education. I am currently finishing my 8th year as a Randolph County Schools Employee and currently teaching Civics-American Government / US Contemporary Studies at Elkins High School.

“I enjoy being outside as much as possible with my two dogs, Maisy and Jack. I am also an avid hiker, biker, and camper. I have recently started gardening, and when I have the time I like to catch up with a good book on local/state history.

“I was first elected to the West Virginia Legislature in 2018 and it has been a tremendous honor to serve as your Delegate from the 43rd District Representing Randolph and Pocahontas Counties for the past two years.

“I have worked hard to take your concerns to Charleston and to be your voice in the legislature. I have worked to bring transparency with the legislative process and provide important information to folks throughout the district. I have worked with colleagues from both parties to draft and pass HB4543 which caps out of pocket expenses at $100 and requires insurance companies to cover diabetes equipment.

“I promised to help our seniors on limited incomes, and I was happy to cast my vote to phase out the West Virginia Social Security Income tax to put more of our senior’s money back in their pockets. I advocated for our retirees to receive a much-needed cost of living raise.

“In the legislature I have stood firm against attacks and cuts to public education funding and advocated for our students to receive the best education possible.

“I am seeking re-election to the West Virginia House of Delegates to continue representing the 43rd District and being your voice in Charleston. I promise to continue an open-door policy and always listen to your concerns if re-elected.

“I choose to run for office and become a public servant because I genuinely love helping others and being an advocate. I love West Virginia and I love Randolph and Pocahontas counties, please consider giving me your vote on Election Day.”

1) In your opinion, what is the biggest issue currently facing the residents of District 43?

Randolph and Pocahontas counties are facing many challenges, however the issue that is causing great harm and damage to our communities is the Opioid Epidemic. We are not doing enough to stop growing drug use in our counties.

Every West Virginian has a family member, friend, co-worker, or someone they know and care about who has battled addiction. Sadly, all too many have lost their battles. This leaves grandparents raising young children, children growing up without knowing their parents. Our homes burglarized, property stolen, families broken, and generations lost.

As your Delegate I have worked to bring stronger punishments for those who bring large amounts of dangerous drugs into our state. However, we are not doing enough to treat and prevent this drug abuse. We need to increase our youth drug prevention programs in our schools. Our youngsters need to know the dangers of drugs and how to avoid them and reject peer-pressure. Those struggling with addiction need help and resources to recover and be successful. I will continue fighting for our communities and work to make them safe and drug free.

2) How can you as a delegate help local businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Our small businesses are the backbone of our economy. My grandparents owned a small business that has now been passed down to my parents. I know the hard work and sweat equity folks put into their businesses.

COVID-19 has been rough, but it has been especially brutal to many of our small businesses. With many folks unable to spend money due to tight budgets, our small businesses are losing revenue. Federal programs and loans and some state grants have helped but have truly not gone far enough for our businesses. Sadly, too many have had to close because there wasn’t enough help available for them.

I will fight to add some statewide assistance for our small businesses without raising taxes to do so. The tourism industry is major for our area, and the legislature and governor need to be aware of the struggles it is facing due to COVID and less visitors to our attractions. We must act to help these businesses through legislation, or they will be forced to close.

3) What is a problem that West Virginia has that has been spotlighted this year by the pandemic, and what can be done to solve it?

The biggest problem that became apparent because of COVID is that we have some serious problems with our broadband access and reliability in our area. As the Minority Vice-Chair of the Technology and Infrastructure Committee I have advocated and fought to bring broadband expansion and fixing our current substandard broadband to the attention of the Legislature.

I have worked in a bi-partisan manner with the Majority Vice-Chair to pass legislation that will provide an incentive for companies to upgrade and expand their high-speed internet throughout the state. With many working from home, students learning from home, it is imperative that we have fast, reliable, and affordable internet available.

Ty Nestor

Republican William T. “Ty” Nestor has announced his candidacy for West Virginia House of Delegates 43rd District. Nestor was a candidate for the seat in 2018 narrowly losing to Democrats — incumbent Bill Hartman and newcomer Cody Thompson. He was 1.4 % short of the votes needed to get to Charleston in 2018. If Nestor had won, he would have been the first Republican to represent Randolph County as a delegate in over 80 years.

“I came into the last election without any political experience and was encouraged by how close the race was. I enjoyed meeting people and making new friends especially in Pocahontas County where I received the second highest number of votes behind Bill Hartman. I feel the outcome will be different this time because this is a full-term election and I have already run a strong campaign.”

Nestor’s agenda focuses on improving the region and the State by eliminating statewide personal property tax, attacking the opioid crisis, improving the economy, and creating better jobs. “West Virginia needs to reward the West Virginia worker. The backbone of our State is its workforce. Those who get up every morning and go to work so they can actually have something they want should not be punished by our tax system.” Nestor, a Trump supporter, also believes that West Virginia needs to address its public housing assistance program and housing voucher program to the extent that the law will allow. “In Randolph County in particular, it is being advertised for tenants to come here from other states. The people who come typically bring low incomes, drugs, crime, and other undesirables. After obtaining low income housing preference in their home state or another state they will often leave, but the damage is already done. West Virginia needs to attract a tax base that will work and contribute to the economy, not drain it. We are losing population and those who are leaving are not who we want to leave. We need to keep and attract motivated working people by providing good jobs and a high quality of life.”

Nestor is a 1999 graduate of West Virginia University and a 2002 graduate of West Virginia University College of Law. He is the founder of The Nestor Law Office located in Elkins. He says his experience as an attorney is what has inspired him to seek public office. “I love being a lawyer. As an attorney in a small town I had to become more public than I was comfortable with so that I could make a living. Going on fifteen years I have cared for people and done my very best to protect their rights and promote their interests. In exchange, I have been rewarded with the confidence and friendship of the community which has provided me with an identity and sense of purpose. I am very thankful for what West Virginia has provided to me. As a delegate I will have the opportunity to continue to do what I enjoy for a larger segment of the State.”

Nestor is a Christian, a born and raised West Virginian, and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. He is also a member of the West Virginia Masonic Lodge, West Virginia Association for Justice, Americas Top 100 Attorneys, the Izaak Walton League of America, and the Elks Club #1135. He resides in Elkins with future wife Samantha and son Jack.

1) In your opinion, what is the biggest issue currently facing the residents of District 43?

COVID-19 has altered every aspect of our lives. Getting our schools reopened safely and our businesses back up and running are the top priorities for the citizens of the 43rd District. We need Congress to pass another stimulus bill soon. The state legislature also needs to be prepared to hit the ground running to pass the needed packages to help our citizens meet the challenges that lie ahead.

With the influx of federal dollars, our state legislature needs to learn from our past failures when we didn’t adequately use the resources provided to not only help people but build a better future. I am committed to transparency and oversight of the federal dollars from the CARES Act and any additional stimulus programs.

2) How can you as a delegate help local businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic?

As a member of the House of Delegates, I will promote all state programs to citizens. For example, the state currently has a $5,000 grant program for small businesses negatively impacted by COVID.

I will also work with local school officials and business leaders to develop and implement plans to reopen. I will serve as a direct advocate for their needs with state government.

3) What is a problem that West Virginia has that has been spotlighted this year by the pandemic, and what can be done to solve it?

The need for adequate broadband across our state has been amplified by COVID. It is now essential for access to healthcare, our students to learn, and for many, the ability to work remotely.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito is leading the way with her Capito Connect program. Every member of the legislature and all local officials need to put our narrow party interests aside and work together to get every home, every business, every school, and every community connected.

MARK RENNIX

Mark Rennix is a resident of Mill Creek who is a Republican candidate for a House of Delegates District 43 seat.

He has served as the chaplain of the Tygart Valley Homestead Association.

Rennix was mailed a candidate questionnaire but did not provide answers for publication.

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