Learn more about Wayne Clark and his views on COVID rules, school choice and much more.
Wayne Clark Interview Excerpts
Wayne Clark: Good morning everybody, my name is Wayne Clark on running for House of Delegates. District 65 here in Jefferson County. I am a small business owner in Jefferson County, most known as the owner of Locust Hill Golf Course. I am a pro-family, pro-life and pro Second Amendment. And I look forward to your questions.
Richard: What do you think is in the district or maybe statewide, what do you think the biggest issue is right now?
Wayne Clark: It’s COVID. It’s the biggest issue nationwide. What COVID has done to small businesses and what it’s about to do. And what I mean by about to do as a prime example, myself. As a golf course, during the summer time, we’re busy, but in the winter time is when we rely a lot on our social environment. We rely on hosting Christmas parties, we rely on live music nights. We rely on our restaurant sales. Our restaurant sales are about to take a massive hit. Because the current COVID restrictions that are put on restaurants, ____ and entertainment venues like myself that are about to come out with 25 people gathering, no buffets, no live music inside. So a lot of small business owners are starting to see that type of thing. And other things such as your PPE protection stuff, the Plexiglas the gloves. We’ve got to use Styrofoam plates, we can’t use glass plates. All those additional expenses are going to really start to get more strict as we’re going into the winter months and that’s going to put a big strain on a lot of small businesses.
Richard: Yes, I hear what you’re saying. Already, we know many restaurants have closed. And I saw there was something that said, was it 25% of restaurants are to close permanently? Maybe in New York City, it’s more than that. What do you think, has the governor overstepped his bounds? Is this really all crazy? Now, studies have shown, although at first we didn’t know, there’s really not concerned about touching services; that’s not how it’s spread, so why are we doing all this crazy stuff? Do you have any comments on that?
Wayne Clark: Let’s go back to March when the governor issued the state-wide shut down. And many other governments followed suit. We had no idea what this virus was going to do. We had no idea how the virus was going to affect us. But we do know now. We do know that it’s very hard to get COVID from touch surfaces. It’s very hard, if you’re maintaining your social distance, it’s very hard to get it from just talking to someone. So at this point now, what we know, we should now start opening up some of the restrictions, allowing businesses to maintain themselves. Allowing businesses to do what they have to do. Sure, we have to have smaller staff and all that because we have less customers, but no customers that doesn’t work. Less customers, that does work, and we need to open up their restrictions so that we can at least have less customers.
Richard: I’ll agree with you on that. A lot of it, I think, is posturing. So you go to a restaurant and say, Okay, wear a mask. And then, obviously, when you’re sitting at your table eating, you’re not wearing a mask it’s just like appearances and it’s very damaging, and honestly, it’s not very pleasant for me. People like myself, we don’t really feel like going out and eating so much. I mean, occasionally I may. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. So one question is, in the House of Delegates, will you vote to modify the emergency powers? Because now they’re going on and on. Would you want to restrict them in time to maybe 30 days and then the legislature has to come back?
Wayne Clark: I do agree we have to make some sort of adjustments to the emergency powers act. It’s not just my opinion, it’s others who are running also agree. To take one person to get to have full authority for this long. Or to bypass, as an example, back in April, when the Governor issued additional powers to Dr. Reidy of the health department here in Jefferson County. Those types of things should be looked at and revised in this setting, and you hear it all the time. Let me make my choice of what I feel is best for me and my family. Don’t dictate my choice from someone else.
Richard: I agree. I agree with that. Individual responsibility. If you feel personally that you are at great risk, then avoid going to, say any event or restaurant or whatever. But to say that everybody has to follow these very dubious guidelines, about all the mask wearing and distancing and all those things. I think it is very questionable. Let the people decide themselves.
Wayne Clark: Correct.
Richard: I know that Governor Justice is supposedly is a Republican. I know he changed parties. Do you think the response is muted from some legislators or people more because he’s supposedly a Republican? Honestly, myself, I like S Marshall Wilson for governor. I am going to write him in. But what do you think? Is there a little of that good old boy politics going on? Are people a little reluctant to push back, the Republicans, because of that fact?
Wayne Clark: I don’t necessarily want to speak about that. I don’t know. I’m not in the room while these decisions are going. I too have listened to Mr. Wilson, and I believe, as well, that he would be a strong candidate for governor. I can’t answer that because I’m not there, I don’t know…
Richard: When do you think life begins?
Wayne Clark: Life begins at conception. It’s clear. My wife and I, unfortunately had two miscarriages before we had our twins, and I have an older daughter, she’s 26 now, who has two daughters herself. And I had her at a young age and there was no thought process, it was, Okay, here we go. We’re going from college to parents right away. So conception starts life.
Richard: I’ve been working on in the legislature over several years now, the health freedom issue, or often called vaccination choice. In West Virginia, we have this mandate, No vaccination, No school. Do you think there should be religious or conscientious objections to vaccinations or like it is now is okay?
Wayne Clark: Interesting question. My personal beliefs, my daughters have been vaccinated for many things. My daughters have not been vaccinated for some things. It is a religious belief on what should be, and if you choose not to have your child vaccinated for something… Let’s go way back. So let’s go back to polio. Okay, if you chose not to have your child vaccinated for polio, but at the same time, the school says, Okay, well you can’t come to school because you did not get that vaccination, then you have no choice but to homeschool your kid. That is the way the law is written. And that is what it is.
Richard: In our state and a few other states, but most states have exemptions, still.
Wayne Clark: Correct, most states do have exemptions for that. I don’t know if that’s something that a first year delegate should attack. So, I’ll leave my answer to the way it is…
Wayne Clark: There’s no doubt that there is an unbalance between the administrative and the numbers of students in many of the counties throughout the state. West Virginia is one of the highest states in the country to educate kids, we spend nearly $12000 per student to educate them. That’s a lot of money, and there’s a lot of positions that, and I don’t want anybody to lose their job or anything like that, but there’s a lot of positions that we need to really look in the budget and say, Okay, do we need this? Do we need this position? My wife’s a teacher and she teaches in Loudon County, and she wanted to come over to Jefferson County. But our family just can’t take that hit from the difference in Loudon County to Jefferson County in salary. And until Jefferson County can figure out a way to balance that difference, many of our teachers are going to travel out of state. And $250,000 in raises back in June for the administrative. We could have put every teacher in Jefferson County, we could have given them a $500 COVID bonus. It would not have made a huge difference to their financials, but it would help some.
Richard: I read today that they’re doing that but that they are using the CARES money, I don’t know how they figured that out. I think a lot of it is deceptive because people are saying, and some teachers have commented on my editorial, that, Oh, we’ll be cut a lot because of the excess levy if it’s not passed. But something like 2%, 2%, not 20%, 2% of that excess levy goes to teacher and service personnel salaries. So just a lot, a lot, a lot of waste, a lot of administrative bloat. If taxpayers kept their money and if the school wants a librarian and the state doesn’t pay for it, the parents would have $500 each in their pocket and fund it themselves.
Wayne Clark: You look at some other states that are around us, Pennsylvania is a prime example, your property tax stays in the county and funds schools. So each county has its own funding program. West Virginia forever, it’s all state funded. Everything goes down to Kanawha County, goes down to the capital and then it’s distributed out. When you look at the median income, individual median income for the state of West Virginia, you’re somewhere just at 40,000. Well, in some counties where the median income is 32, your teachers are making 42, but then you look at some of your counties where the median income is in the 50s and 60s and 70s, like Jefferson County, and they’re only making 42, 47 with locality and bonuses and all the other, but it should be more of a county-based, not a state based.
Richard: I would like to see if the school board wants to argue strongly for the Levy, I would like to see them make a clear breakdown. Honestly, I think they’re afraid to because people would see, oh, we spent, I don’t know the exact figure. 13 million for the administration, or whatever is. Five million. Oh, we only gave the teachers one million and I don’t know, it’s totally unclear. It says, okay, the levy is for $17 million plus for salaries. Well, that’s not good enough. Whose salaries? How much? That’s not appropriate. I don’t feel that’s an appropriate way to be accountable to taxpayers. And also they spend almost a million dollars for this EPIC place, which is some kind of inter-county organization. And they also pay the lawyer from that, Ms. Sutton. It’s impossible to know how much they spend on the lawyer. That’s a lot of money to give that organization a million dollars, which includes a lawyer, so they’ve obfuscated that, because the lawyer position is open. There are just so many things. If it was your personal money, would you just give it to somebody like, Okay, here’s $10000 and they don’t even account for it? I’m sorry. That’s just not right.
Wayne Clark: I’ve got so many things I could do with $10000, and not just give it away.
Richard: It’s huge, it’s 40% increase, the excess levy. The school bond would increase it even more. But the excess levy increases the Property tax 40%. So that’s, on a $225,000 house, for renters. It would be like $100 per month assuming the landlord will pass that on and for home owners $50 per month. That’s a lot.
Wayne Clark: That is.
Richard: With the education overall, I know that we had an education choice bill. I think Senator Rucker worked on that a lot. There are now a few, I don’t know that there’s any in the works, but something like three charter schools are authorized, or is it five, which isn’t a lot, but are you for more school choice or do you like the system as is now, where everything goes to public education pretty much?
Wayne Clark: Well. I grew up in Baltimore, and I chose to go to a different high school than my brother and my family. Because of the curriculum that they had. And school choice, and… Yes, Baltimore city schools are really, really bad. But some of them are really, really good. School choice can help. And what have we done in the last 15 years to improve anything? Has anything worked? Let’s let charter schools go, see if they work. And at least we have something. So I agree with school choice, I agree with the charter schools, it’s only three, let’s see how they work, give us a five-ten year process to see how they work before we start going crazy and building charter schools all through the state. And you see if the test scores go up, see if our kids are more proficient. More kids are earning their promise scholarships, are going out of state to major universities, that kind of stuff. Let’s see what happens with it.
Richard: I think more choice is good or if parents want to choose to homeschool or hire teachers on small groups, I forget… I don’t know what the technical name is, I guess it’s a part of home schooling, sometimes they hire a teacher to teach physics or something. Well, that’s their choice. Right now, that’s not funded, but I think those kind of things, some of those king of things almost passed. Choice is good. I think that’s good. I think we should have different choices.
And on the pro-life issue I want to mention that our organization deals with sexual health education. I think that’s more at the county level, but what the policy is, but I think also regarding that issue of life, if you take it a step back, it’s good to encourage school age youth not to have sex before marriage. In my experience, I work with that issue in our non-profit, can be very contentious. But, I believe that should be the standard for school age children. Do you have any opinion about that?
Wayne Clark: Well, as a father of three girls, I’m trying to teach them that very concept, and that kind of teaching starts at home, and should be reiterated in school, but it’s got to start at home. The parents need to be teaching that as a basis and the reasons why abstinence at a young age is important and having it reiterated in school, yes. But it’s not the school’s main and responsibility, it’s the parent’s responsibility.
Richard: Pretty much every county and jurisdiction has some kind of AIDS prevention education, so those topics inevitably come up.
Wayne Clark: Right.
Richard: Are there any other issues you’d like to address or any closing statement about why the voters should vote for you.
Wayne Clark: The thing about myself is, I’m a common sense guy. I’m going to do what’s going to be best for Jefferson County, I am going to do what’s best for the state of West Virginia. And I’m not someone who going to get pushed around. When I make my decision, my decision is what it is. I stand behind my decision, obviously, yes, someone can have a constructive conversation with me to change my opinion, and providing they have factual backing for that, correct, but I’m going to stay strong with my convictions in regards to what the state needs, what Jefferson County needs and what our kids need. One of the important things to understand is that any decisions that we make now are going to affect those in the future. And we need to make sure that we’re making the right decisions now, so that the state continues to grow and the county continues to grow and improve. And I’ll leave it at that. I hope I get everybody’s vote on November 3rd, Wayne Clark, House of Delegates, District 65.