West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with Jody Murphy-Democratic Candidate for West Virginia Governor

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Jody Murphy Article

Welcome to this evening’s edition of the Richard Urban Show. I’m your host Richard Urban coming to you from historic Harpers Ferry, WV on May 21. We’re very happy to have Jody Murphy on. He’s a Democratic candidate for West Virginia Governor. So please introduce yourself.

“Thank you for having me, first of all. I really appreciate it.  My name is Jody Murphy, I’m a Democratic candidate for governor; first time running for office; live in Wood County, Parkersburg, WV I’ve been here 17 years,” Murphy said.

“Married 23 years, wife, three boys, four cats. I’m currently working for FedEx. Before that, I’ve worked for the Pleasants County Chamber of Commerce, the Pleasants County Development Authority, and I was a newspaper reporter for about almost 15 years working in Parkersburg,” Murphy added.

Richard: So could you tell us the three main campaign or platform points you’re running on?

“Sure, sure, I think the – and this may not apply as much to your Harpers Ferry Eastern Panhandle – but my main platform, my number one goal, is to recruit and retain residents. I tell folks all the time I’m running because I want my children and my children’s children to live in West Virginia, I don’t want to go to North Carolina to visit my kids.” Murphy answered.

“Most of the state has been losing population since the 1950’s. We’re hemorrhaging population and the population that we’re losing is our youngest, our best, brightest, and the working tax-paying population. So, I want to recruit and retain those people. We need to grow our tax base. I tell people, we need more taxpayers, not more taxes. So that’s really my biggest platform and my second is to diversify the economy, grow and diversify the economy. And I know these are big things, or just things that a lot of people have been saying from decades of governorship but I believe I can do it because I did it in Pleasants County,” Murphy responded.

Richard: Since you mentioned growing the population, what are your ideas on that? How would you go about that?

“Well, when we were in Pleasants County with the Chamber of Commerce, we did a promotion where we would pay people to live in Pleasants County. We paid folks $2,000 to build and buy a home in Pleasants County, it was essentially a rebate on their first year property taxes, but we cut them a check. If anyone built or bought a home in Pleasants County we gave them $2000,” Murphy said.

“I want to create entrepreneurship zones in smaller towns, in smaller areas that used to be really prosperous. I’d like to create entrepreneurship zones. I want to create income tax-free retirement communities. I think that there are seniors that don’t want to retire to Florida, “ Murphy continued.

Richard: How would they become income tax free? Would it have to be passed by the legislature?

“It would, it would probably would have to be approved by the legislature as well as the county. So it would start as, I’d like to do it as a pilot program to see if that’s something that we can attract.  But I think if it’s income tax-free, as you know, Tennessee, and Florida are both income tax free states, and that’s where folks like to go. So I’d like to try it as a pilot program,” Murphy explained.

Richard: One thing I’m interested in and passionate about is the issue of no school, no vaccinations. And the reason I’m mentioning this at this stage of the interview is that I know a bunch of parents who moved out of the state because of that. What’s your stand on that? Is that a good policy? Like no school, no vaccines, no exceptions, no religious exemptions, and no personal exemptions. What do you think?

“My wife’s a family nurse practitioner. I’m a pretty big believer in vaccines,” Murphy said.

Richard: Most states or pretty much all states have some requirements but usually there’s exemptions. So you don’t think there could be any in West Virginia?

“I like that West Virginia is actually a pretty strong, I guess, the state is pretty pro-vaccine, and yeah, I’m fairly happy with that, pretty comfortable with it.” Murphy responded.

Richard; Now one thing I noticed in another interview is that I believe you wanted to make opioid use legal. How would that look? How would that work, or is that correct?

“Not exactly.  I’m promoting the legalization, the full legalization of cannabis, marijuana, full legalization.  One, it would create industry.  It would create growth, jobs and a set up for industry.  We would have people willingly doing tax money, paying us tax money.  I wrote an op-ed in the Charleston Gazette called A Reluctance to Tax the Willing.  If we legalize cannabis and marijuana people will buy it and we will collect tax money off of it. And I want to use that revenue stream that’s a new revenue stream.  I want to use that to fix PEIA.  And I also want to use it towards regular, less union’s health care, costs.

I do want the decriminalization of the possession of opioids. I want to decriminalize that. I don’t think we should be prosecuting and criminalizing folks that are self-harming. Our jails are overrun with people that are users; they’re addicts.  And I’m not sure that sending them to jail is the right punishment,” Murphy said.

Richard: As far as education, I was reading or I noticed you were saying that we should have possibly a free college education? And another point, I know recently, a bill added one or two or three charter schools but you said no, no charter schools. So, I guess short question is why no charter schools? And also the free education. How would that look? Does everybody need college? How would you pay for it?

“My biggest fear of charter schools is that it takes money – public money – away from public education. Now what I’m proposing as far as post-secondary – what I’m proposing is the opportunities for free post-secondary education and what that means is, let’s say Berkeley, Berkeley County. We’d go to voters and give them the opportunity pass a post-secondary school levy, like the school bond in which they agree to be taxed as a group and that money set aside – that tax money is set aside to provide free post-secondary educational opportunities for their residents’ children,” Murphy answered.

Richard: Generally, the great majority of property taxes go for local schools. So already, it’s hard to see how people will want to pay twice as much or something like that.

“I think it depends. Again, you’re getting a little more bang for your buck here, you’re not sending your kids to high school, you’re sending your kids to get a chemical operator’s license or you get a welder to get a four-year to your degree. So I think one you’re promising them a little more bang for their buck,” Murphy.

Richard: What do you think about the personal income tax, personal property tax, and the business inventory tax?  What’s your opinion on those three taxes? Are they good, bad or indifferent?

“Well, one, businesses are not paying enough, they’re not paying their fair share. If you and I working, tax-paying West Virginians, we make up 75% of the state’s annual budget. 75% of the state four and a half billion dollar budget is funded, you and I on our back. Now business, not through an inventory tax, not through severance taxes, those things, make up less on 12% of the state’s annual budget, So businesses need to pay their fair share, they need to pay a little more,” Murphy said.

Richard: Can you explain the severance tax?

“Severance tax is tax money, taken on, on exports, particularly coal, oil, natural gas, timber – any of our raw materials that leave the state of West Virginia are subject to a severance tax and I think we only charge about one to two percent on severance taxes, depending on the export that we’re talking about. Coal is a big one. They just lowered the export tax on coal, the severance tax on coal recently,” Murphy answered.

Richard: With the COVID-19 situation we see that Gov. Justice and a lot of governors have put in a lot of mandates, lock downs and different restrictions. So do you feel that’s violating constitutional rights or do you think it’s just about right or it’s way overkill or what’s your opinion on that?

“I think Gov. Justice I think he’s doing pretty well, I think he’s following the right advice and I know there’s a concern about the governor overstepping his powers, and I think that is certainly a valid complaint. But I think at the time that we had the pandemic that we were really concerned about the unknown, I think they were taking a lot of the good steps, a lot of the steps in the right direction,” Murphy responded.

Richard: How would you differentiate yourself from your opponents? You have four opponents on the Democratic ticket. What would differentiate you from those other opponents?

“What’s different is that those guys have money. I’m the guy that nobody’s heard of. However, I’m the fellow with the ideas that have actually done things. I’ve done economic development. I helped save the coal power plant in Pleasants County. I helped rebuild the grocery store in Pleasant County, keep it from becoming a food desert. What I tell people is that I can recruit, retain, and diversify the economy,” Murphy said.

Richard: So anything else you’d like to say, in concluding, about your campaign?

“Well, I’ve got a whole lot of ideas, a little blog post on my website, I’m on Facebook. My cell number is 304-991-2350. If anybody has any questions, I’m available to talk when I’m not at work. I try and respond to e-mails, I’m pretty open,” Murphy concluded.

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