Elections, Latest News, West Virginia Legislature

Candidates for 51st district talk about plans

Three of the five Republican hopefuls sit down with paper

MORGANTOWN — Three of five Republican candidates for the five House of Delegates 51st District seats met with The Dominion Post Editorial Board last week and fielded a variety of questions.

Former Delegate Joe Statler and newcomers Justin White and Todd Stainbrook faced the board. Former Delegate Cindy Frich and newcomer Zach Lemaire were unable to attend.

They took a question on how they would distinguish themselves from their GOP colleagues.

White said he has several degrees from WU’s medical school and has taught health care administration. He’s also a small buinsess owner who has taught entrepreneurship and small business management at WVU’s business school.

So, he said, he understands the challenges of hiring and employing people and caring for employees.

Small businesses are the backbone of the economy of West Virginia.”

Stainbrook said he has been self-employed or a business owner all his adult life and is accustomed to working with all sorts of people. “I am very open to conversations with all political realms.”

He’s tired of the divisions, he said, and is able to work across the aisle.

Statler served 10 years on the Monongalia County school board and two terms in House, along with serving on a number of other countywide boards. The job is more about community service than holding political office, he said. “It’s a calling.”

He woud bring experience to the job, he said. “There’s a learning curve. … It opens your eyes up to get down there and see how it actually works/”

They were asked to offer a bill or policy they wold work to introduce.

White said he would have had a different answer pre-COVID. “I do not have a preconceived political agenda,

Now, during COVID, he said, the state and nation are in flux. “The first thing we have to do is get people reconnected with their jobs and take care of the well-being of the state.” And that will require working across party lines.

Statler said technology is his most pressing issue. “I think we have to find an answer to broadband and how we can deliver broadband across the state,” he said.

In the days of land lines, phone companies had to provide lines to each home, he said. “We’ve go to get some sense of that in some way. He doesn’t know if the current remote learning process is fulfilling the constitutional mandate to provide and fair and equal education.

Stainbrook said, “The first thing I would want to do in coming to Charleston is to listen and learn.” He believes the Division of Highways needs revamping and it needs to get more people hired.

People have been urging him to join the effort to repeal the motorcycle helmet law. “I think freedom of choice is a great thing.” He’d also back the bill to end state vehicle inspections.”

Another question dealt with improving infrastructure.

Stainbrook said communications between the state and counties needs improvement.

But his first priority would be improving the pay structure to draw and retain good workers. “We have to incentivize our workers a little more.”

White said it’s important to make sure the right people are in key positions, and DOH should evaluate who they have where.

He listed a variety of needed improvements, such as adopting more current pothole technology and other technologies, and developing a more efficient formula to distribute funds to counties.

Statler said much of attention during his time in office and after was on roads and infrastructure. The state needs to find ways to move faster on its projects.

He also said the Road Fund formula needs to be more equitable. And right now the state has CARES money sitting idle and he’d like to see $1 million go to each county to improve broadband.

Tweet David Beard@dbeardtdp Email dbeard@dominionpost.com