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West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

#62-Interview with Mike Chapman-Democratic Candidate for Sheriff-Jefferson County WV

Learn more about Mike Chapman, his previous management and law enforcement experience and his views on issues facing law enforcement in Jefferson County WV.

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Mike Chapman Interview Excerpts

Mike Chapman: Hi. Good morning Mr. Urban and all your viewers. Thanks for having me on the show today. I really appreciate it. I am Mike Chapman. I’m the Democratic candidate for Sheriff. I’m probably a little different than the other candidates in the field. I was a reserve deputy for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for 10 years. I logged a lot of volunteer time in a police cruiser, doing by my best to make the citizens of Jefferson County safe. I served under three different Sheriffs. I’ve seen three different management styles of the organization. But my primary bread and butter, so to speak; throughout my life, I’ve been involved in information technology, business and finance. I’m an entrepreneur. I have owned a few small businesses over the years. Still do actually. I also own a farm out on the South end of Jefferson County. I think that basically, I’ll bring a unique perspective to the office. One, I do have the law enforcement experience. I do know what goes on inside the sheriff’s office. I do have some experience with all that. But the fact that I spent my entire career in the private sector, where in order to survive, you have to make things more efficient, more cost-effective and more customer service friendly.

Those are traits that you do not see in government, generally speaking. Not always. I don’t want to be too over dramatic with it, but a lot of times in law enforcement, we’re missing some of those things. So I think that once I get in office and I take a good hard look at everything and do a complete process analysis, complete needs assessment. We’ll find some opportunities to save the tax payers’ money, to be more responsible to the voters, to provide a higher level of customer service to people that have to react with the Sheriff’s office. And hopefully, just provide a total better service to the community while providing a better experience to the employees that work under me.

Richard: Can you clarify for myself and the viewers, what do the reserve officers do? Have you ever made an arrest, for instance? Or is it more like direct traffic or is it much more involved than that?

Mike Chapman: It sort of depends on the Sheriff, as to how much leeway he gives them. It also depends on the deputy that you might be working with at the time.

The reserves have an academy with about 200 hours of training. They are trained in Tasers, pepper spray, take down tactics, hand cuffing. They assist deputies with arrests. At least in my day they did. I assume they still do. I’ve rolled around on the floor with the subject trying to apprehend him along with the deputies. You’re very much involved. We transport prisoners. We take them to arraignment, take them to prison. We help process the paperwork on DUIs. We do direct traffic when there’s a catastrophic event, something that might down the highways. We’re extra manpower, extra eyes and ears in the community. A lot of the things we do, for example, I think a DUI arrest might take several hours to process. And that will also include a trip to the Regional Jail. So we’ll take some of those responsibilities off the deputy to get them back out on the street faster. So we’re sort of a force multiplier for the sheriff’s department.

Richard: And that’s a volunteer position, so you’re giving your time.

Mike Chapman: Yes. And I was involved in that early on. I was one of the people that helped form the organization and make it what it is today.

Richard: I notice about the training academy, they said it’s one of the, maybe the only one in the state or something.

Mike Chapman: A lot of the counties, local counties will send their officers here for training, because we do have such a great program. Ours is the model program for the state of West Virginia.

Richard: What do you think right now is the greatest issue for law enforcement in Jefferson County?

Mike Chapman: That’s a two-part question for me.

The biggest issue as we see it immediately is the opioid crisis. The opioid crisis drives so many other things. To an extent, human trafficking. To an extent, healthcare, because we’re seeing upticks in hepatitis, HIV, because of things that are going on in and around the opioid crisis. It’s destroying families, it’s creating despair. It’s definitely a problem. But what I see as an even potentially bigger problem looming on the horizon, if you’re following the news, the national rhetoric against police officers, de-funding the police. It’s driving down morale. We’re seeing in New York that there is a mass exodus of police officers from New York City. They’re retiring, they’re quitting.

Has it happened here yet? No. Are the guys and girls in law enforcement feeling it? Yes. A lot of them want out. And even before this, recruitment nationally for law enforcement officers is down by 60%. Used to advertise, you’d get 100 applications. Now you’re getting locally, you can get 10. It’s a problem, it’s a real problem. And so what scares me is, at some point, you’re going to lose your talented police officers because they’re educated, they’re smart, they can get another job. You’re going to lose them, and there’s nobody to back fill them because nobody wants to go in law enforcement. The younger generation didn’t like it, that idea, anyway, they’re not jumping in to fill the seats, and everybody else is, why would they subject themselves to what they’re hearing?

Richard: If I might ask the question. Okay, so I saw your post about the New York City Police Department and the patrol officer just quit. And I know hundreds of other officers have quit. The patrol officer, chief or director or whatever the title is. But the conundrum I see is, the Democratic Party and the Democratic Mayor De Blasio, he’s causing a lot of these issues and the whole kind of nexus between the Democratic Party and the defund the police movement. I know yourself you clearly indicate you’re not for that, but your party seems to be leaning that way. Can you address that?

Mike Chapman: I can’t speak for the Democratic Party. Listen, there’s a lot of labels that I used to define myself. I’m an American, I have to leave in the constitution 100%. I understand on the West Virginian. I’m a husband, I’m a brother, I’m a son, I’m an entrepreneur. Somewhere down on that list, way down is the label Democrat. I am a part of the party, but I don’t understand the national objective. I really don’t know what they’re trying to achieve by forcing his rhetoric on us. Because, I don’t know that many people that really want to de-fund the police. I have met a few locally, I have. But it seems to be very much a minority. Because what’s going to happen when you call 911 if there are no police officers to take the call? I don’t want to live in that world.

Richard: On the question of the big issue of the opioids, and you were mentioning on your website or Facebook about also a multi-pronged approach or reducing demand. I know specific you mentioned that. What could be done to reduce demand? How do you see that?

Mike Chapman: Sure, sure. First thing about opioids is that it knows no socio-economic boundaries. It can happen in any family. It just can. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or what race you are. What I see is part of the problem is the supply-demand equation. As long as there is a demand for the product, there’s going to be a supplier. We catch the supplier, we take down, we disrupt the network for a little while. Somebody else comes back in to fill it because there’s demand for it. So, we have to find a way, and I know that once you’re on opioids, it’s almost impossible to get off. It’s a life-long addiction. I know all that. But, the point is, if we do nothing, we’re not going to make any progress at all. So we have to do something. If we can only save 10% than that’s still worth it. But what we do now, we catch people with drugs or we catch people who have committed a small property crime to get drugs, and we put them in jail for a while. And we don’t really cure then, we don’t fix them, we don’t make anything better. We pay $50 a day for them to sit in jail, and then we release them back into the world, still addicted. Still, whatever the underlying problem that may have led to their addiction is still there, if it’s mental health, whatever it may be.

So what I would propose is that we try to fix them, as best we can. We try to help them, and we have a day report Center in town. It obviously has limited capacity. The treatment is funded largely through insurance companies. So it alleviates the jail bill. The insurance picks up the tab for the treatment. It’s expensive to send them through that, but the idea is first we treat the chemical addiction, then we try to treat the underlying condition that may have caused the chemical addiction, then we try to re-integrate them back into society. Give them some job training. There’s some employers locally that are hiring people out of that program. And try to make them productive citizens, again, give them a reason to be proud. The current system of just putting addicts in prison because they were holding drugs and they got caught and they go to jail, now they have a drug addiction and a criminal record, that’s not really helping them, so we have to do something different…

Richard: On another topic. We’ve had the governor’s mandates for COVID-19. Then we know that some businesses locally in Jefferson County, at least a couple, and others, and I know in Martinsburg, there’s a barber shop where the gentleman said he wasn’t shutting down. Presumably these could or have escalated where the Sheriff’s Office might be sent over or maybe Martinsburg actually it’s the police, but in any case as an example, so to say, ‘Hey look, you have to shut down’. Would you enforce those kind of COVID 19 regulations? Or even they could involve wearing a face mask. I was at the Moulton Park on a Memorial Day. It was closed. I was going to have a picnic with a friend. It was closed. The signs said it is not open. In fact, they removed the picnic tables. So presumably, someone could have said ‘Hey, don’t congregate here’, or even arrest you. How would you handle those kind of mandates? Are those constitutional? What would you do?

Mike Chapman: Well, let’s take the face mask. I don’t see the Sheriff’s office being able to enforce masks. We have a 32-33 deputies and they are all not on duty at one time. At any given time, there’s four or five out on the road. We have 56-ish thousand citizens. We are a tourist economy that has three million visitors per year. We don’t have enough deputies to do the law enforcement jobs that we have now, let alone try to tackle 3 million plus 56,000 people who may or may not be in compliance with mask law. I think this is, at best, it’s the responsibility of the Health Department to enforce. It’s also the responsibility of private businesses to handle on their own. I’m a little, in some ways, shocked at people that fight the mass thing so much. My entire life, I’ve been involved in things. Like, I’m an IT guy that worked in a factory. When I went out on a factory floor I had to have steel toed boots, hearing protection, eye protection. In certain areas a hard hat. Safety equipment is part of many, many, many jobs. If you play sports you are required to wear safety equipment. The mask thing to me is, I just wear one if they want me to, and that’s it. But I understand people who don’t want to do that. I understand some people can’t do that. But, it’s up to the businesses to enforce that, and if someone demands to come in without a mask and their policy is that you must have a mask, it’s within their right to deny service to the customer that doesn’t want to comply.

And if that situation that comes escalated, then we’ll step in and remove them because they at that point will be trespassing. But just to walk around and tell people or site people for not wearing a mask, we’re not going to do that. As for the gathering, if the park was officially closed and the owners of the park, is that publicly owned?

Richard: No, that’s County. That’s Moulton Park.

Mike Chapman: They may have closed the park. But no one was really interested in enforcing that. The Governor himself said people should be outside and doing things. And so if you were outside using public grounds for family activity, I have no problem with that whatsoever…

Richard: As we come toward a conclusion, why would the voters especially choose you versus your three or supposedly four opponents? What will be your distinguishing points?

Mike Chapman: Well, I’m the best candidate for the job. That’s a good reason to pick me. I bring a different perspective. The guys with law enforcement experience, to be a law enforcement officer minimum requirements are, high school diploma and 14 weeks at the academy and some on the job training. And I’m not speaking about specifically the other candidates, but just generally speaking. So, you can come up through the ranks and run a police department based on that without a broad scope of other world experience. And your knowledge is sort of pigeon-holed into that area. I think what I bring to the table above and beyond the other guys is that broader range of experience. Other ideas, ways to do things faster and more efficient. I’ve got some ideas and I don’t really want to go into the detail of them yet because they’re so, I’ll call them state-of-the-art, that the state code doesn’t even address whether it’s legal to do it or not. So I’m going to have to get a legal opinion on how to do some of these things to help improve the processes in the Sheriff’s office. I think that also having been in private sector, managing people, Sheriff’s office is king of definitely a chain of command king of organization, and it needs to remain so.

But what happens is, police officers who have done this forever, they become a little jaded. They definitely, they see the worst in society, and they see the best people quite often when they’re having the worst day of their lives. So, they’re a little jaded. They don’t always think in terms of more modern management and leadership styles. And I think this Sheriff’s Office needs an injection of that. We need to empower the deputies and the supervisors of the deputies. We need to provide them more competitive things to help make their jobs better, like training, for example. We have one guy that’s trained in action reconstruction. We’ve got two detectives. Why not train more people? If I find out that Officer X wants to be trained in accident reconstruction, because that’s something they’re really passionate, really want to do, I should be able to provide that training to them to further their career for their knowledge. And also just give them a better experience while they work there. Plus, when you only have one guy that involved in a discipline, if he moves on, then we have no one. So we need some bench strength. I think that also some of the things I bring to the table with that broader experience is like recruiting. We recruit deputies now by put an ad in the paper and an ad on Facebook. And we’re not drawing a broad base. We have no minority representation whatsoever.

So when I recruit deputies, I’m going to use, borrow from my business experience. What do we do? We partnership with educational institutions. We’re going to partnership with Shepherd College and catch their criminal justice majors. Blue Ridge technical Community College. Even Jefferson High School. There are students there taking forensics classes right now and Washington High School as well. So if we actually partnership with these organizations and try to recruit these kids that have a propensity for law enforcement type backgrounds, and then plan our testing around graduation time so we catch them first when they’re right out of school. And reach out to them to invite them to the testing, personally, maybe even have job fairs, if necessarily. Do something more than just an ad in the paper. And I think we can get a better pool we are picking from. We can also diversify our workforce a little bit.

Richard: You mentioned you’re in IT, do you work for a larger company, have your own business? Just tell us a little more about that.

Mike Chapman: Both, actually. My primary job in IT, I worked for a local company, there’s no longer here, Royal Vendors. The largest budget I ever managed just for IT was $3 million. Now, Royal Vendors, the world headquarters was here in Kearneysville. But we had plants in Mississippi once upon a time. Tennessee, Arizona. And of course, there we a plant in Missouri. It was an incredible place to work. I rode the upswing from $70 million to a $300 million company, and then I wrote it back down again as they started divesting of other locations. To add to that, we also had sales offices in Canada, Mexico, Australia and Europe. So it was a global IT network that I managed. And then on the side, I had a contracting in business. I did IT work for daycare, for healthcare. I did work for other manufacturing companies. I did work for construction companies, I did work for property management companies. I always just had kind of a sideline there. I’ve owned a few other businesses along the way, including a commercial property maintenance company, and property management company, which I still own.

Richard: Any concluding thoughts you’d like to share?

Mike Chapman: Basically, I am definitely the right candidate for the job. I’ve got the experience in finance to manage the budget. I think this year we’re fine with the CARES Act propped up the County budget, but at some point, we’re going to be in trouble. Because video lottery revenues are down, hotel and motel taxes are down, and table games revenues down, property taxes seemed to be on the increase or they soon will be because houses are selling like crazy. And I’m hearing from my realtor friends that they’re getting 25% over asking price. It’s going to drive up our property tax revenue. So where we’re going to land, I don’t know. But if we do find a budget shortfall, we’ll figure it out. I’ve got the experience to do budget modeling to come up with ways that very quickly tell what we can do to make the Sheriff’s Department work. If we have to lean it up, we can still provide the same local service to Jefferson County on a smaller budget for a short period of time. I’ve got some ideas for retention. I know, I’ve talked to some deputies. There are various morale problems. I think I can improve it. I’ve already got those plans in place. Basically, we can just provide the citizens of Jefferson County with a higher level of service than they currently have, regardless of the budget condition.

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West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

#61 Interview with John Doyle-Democratic Candidate for WV House of Delegates-District 67

Learn more about John Doyle and his stand on Rockwool, Red Flag Laws, COVID-19 restrictions and much more.

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John Doyle Interview Excerpts

John Doyle: To me, the most pressing issue is the need for clean government. And I define clean government as government that is accessible and accountable to the people, that is responsible and responsive to the people, that he is open and transparent. And I’ve been working on that for a long time. I became particularly attuned to that with the fight over Rockwool. Because a whole lot of that was done in secret. Whether you want Rockwell or not, I would argue that we should not have these decisions made in secret. And I also will confess, when I served for 20 years or 22 years actually; I’m in my 24th year in the House of Delegates, but in three separate stints. I was elected in ’82, got defeated in ’84, got back in in ’92, stayed for 20 years. Retired voluntarily in 2012 and became Deputy Secretary of Revenue in Governor Tomlin’s second term. And he was term limited. So when his term ended, my job ended. And I got back elected, that was in 2016, and I was elected again to the legislature in 2018. When I was in before, I thought we weren’t transparent enough, and I argued for greater transparency.

But Richard, I will tell you, we were a whole lot more transparent than has been the case in the last half dozen years with the current leadership of the legislature. And particularly the last four years, with Jim Justice as governor.

Richard: Is it a legislative thing you think where there needs to be changes or, because of what you’re saying now is a little subjective in the fact that you’re saying it’s less transparent, but presumably the laws are basically the same, and also what needs to be done, in your opinion, to make it more transparent?

John Doyle: It is both. It is a problem with both the legislature and the executive branch. Yes, the laws, in many cases are the same. But how they are applied, it is different. Legislatively, let me give you an example. I served for 12 years on the House finance committee, actually 14 years. And for 12 years, I was on the budget conference committee. Every year I would be appointed to the budget conference committee to negotiate the final version of the budget with the Senate. There would be a half a dozen delegates and a half a dozen senators. These meetings would be open to the public to anyone who wanted to come. We would argue back and forth on different points of difference in the budget and come to compromise. This last year, the final version of the budget was a private negotiation between the chair of the Senate Finance Committee and the chair of the House Finance committee. That’s not right. And in terms of the Executive Branch, since Governor Justice has taken over, there has been much less ability for the public to find out exactly what is going on in the various agencies of state government.

Now, what needs to be done, now there are some changes in law that I think need to be made. One is if a project is going to be announced, like Rockwool, for example. Presently, the rules are, you have to advertise it in a newspaper of local circulation. You have to advertise it twice. I think you also ought to have to advertise it electronically, in addition to that print advertising. A couple of years ago, the coal industry came up with a bill that would have done a complete switcharoo. Yes, let’s advertise it electronically, but in return for that, eliminate the requirement for advertising in print. Well, this wouldn’t work in coal country, because people in the southern coal fields, we think we’ve got bad internet here and bad cell phone service, it’s much, much worse down there. And for many people, the only way they get information is the local weekly newspaper in the county. I think the requirement needs to be for both, that’s an example of a change in statute I have to make the executive branch more transparent….

Richard: Where do you see it going? And what’s your current interpretation? What could or should be done regarding the Rockwool plant. I saw some of your comments, but just go ahead and explain for the viewers.

John Doyle: The fight against Rockwool is not necessarily against Rockwool per se. It’s a fight against air pollution and water pollution. In terms of water pollution, the EPA, the Federal EPA, strongly recommends to states, now West Virginia is one of the states that has what’s called primacy, where our Environmental Agency, the DEP, the Department of Environmental Protection, has the ability to regulate. But the regulations are not supposed to be any weaker than the federal floor. Now, the EPA says to the DEP, you should not allow settling ponds for storm water management in karst topography. Karst being the kind of porous limestone we have around here. Not up on the Blue Ridge, but the rest of the county, the part of the county that’s in the Shenandoah Valley. The DEP let them do it anyway.

Now, for heaven’s sake, sink holes can open up any time and they can get wider and wider and wider. You just don’t know. And it’s possible for a sinkhole to open up underneath one of these ponds that has a pretty thick liner. I’ll give him that. That the liners thick enough. But if the sink hole gets so wide that it’s wider than the liner, all that dirty water gets dumped into our groundwater. And well over half the people of Jefferson County get their drinking water from ground water. This is the kind of thing that we have to fight. And I’m hoping that this investigation of Rockwool will show that our DEP should have required them to use whatever type of storm water management EPA requires in karst. That’s just an example…

Richard: Another topic, with the current COVID 19 mandates of the governor, do you think he’s overstepped his bounds and would you support changing the West Virginia code, to require the legislature to automatically review those kind of mandates which now don’t have any expiration? Maybe they would have a 30-day limit. The legislature must reconvene. What do you think about that?

John Doyle: My biggest problem with the governor is, he has overstepped his bounds in terms of giving out money. The state constitution does not permit the governor to appropriate money. Yet he is taking it upon himself to do that. The Governor does have broad emergency powers, but he cannot appropriate money. I think most of the things that he’s done, I probably would have voted for, but he needed to call the legislature into session and say, Here’s my plan, present the plan; let members offer Amendments if they want it. We vote on the amendments and then we vote on the final plan. That’s the proper way to have done this…

Richard: He didn’t get the legislature’s input on the financing.

John Doyle: It’s not just input. The Constitution requires legislative approval for appropriating money.

Richard: On the constitutional side, what about the issue of saying which businesses could be open, they’re “essential”, others were not “essential”. As you know, many businesses struggled. More than a few have shut down permanently. Do you feel this is an infringement of, constitutional rights? Then on the individual side, saying to say people have to wear masks in certain conditions, based on spacing or square footage of the business. Is this appropriate? Or is this not appropriate?

John Doyle: I believe in the mask requirement, I think we all should have been required to wear masks from the beginning. If we had done that, if the President of the United States and all 50 governors had said that, I think we would have fewer than half of the people who have died from COVID would have died from COVID. Now, in terms of businesses, if we require people to wear masks, we could have let the businesses be open much more than they were. I think we went about it the wrong way.

Richard: Is it okay to shut a business down? Does the governor have authority to say that these small businesses are “non-essential” or does he not have authority?

John Doyle: I think the governor does have the authority to do it. I’m arguing that if he had required masks instead, we would not have had to shut them down.

Richard: One issue I’ve worked on in the legislature, talking to legislators such as yourself, is the issue of vaccine choice or health freedom. And specifically, in order to attend school in West Virginia, all vaccinations are required, no exceptions, except extremely hard to get medical exceptions, which are very few, like 100 statewide. So short question, do you support providing religious or conscientious exemptions for a parent or even can be an adult in some cases, like employers sometimes required vaccines, who has a conscientious or religious objection?

John Doyle: Richard, you know my answer to that question. So for the benefit of your listeners, I will say no, I do not. What might be the reasoning for that, why do you think it’s not appropriate? Public health. I mean, the first requirement of government is protection of the public health and safety, and that’s why we have stop signs and rules that you have got to drive on a certain side of the road. Yeah.

Richard: To me, that’s not a good enough answer, but we could probably have a long discussion on that. We’ll leave it at that for now. That’s clear enough for our viewers.

You had introduced legislation to have a type of red flag law where in certain circumstances that would mean firearms could be confiscated, I guess, in certain circumstances. And honestly, I haven’t read your proposal. Is that correct? You introduce that, and also, if so, why do you feel it’s necessary?

John Doyle: Because some people, a very few, very small number of people, a tiny minority, are in fact very, very dangerous to themselves and to people around them, particularly their loved ones. And, you’re right, I did sponsored that bill, it went nowhere. I did not expect it to go anywhere. I was very careful. I researched, I think about at least a dozen states had these laws. I researched them all. I regarded the one in Arizona as the one that was friendliest to civil liberties. I took the Arizona law and made it even more friendly to civil liberties. For example, under the bill I introduced, you cannot seize the firearm right away. Or at least you can, but only for a very short period of time, and the government is required, within 10 days to give the person a hearing so the person can come up and say, Here’s why I am not a danger, and the burden of proof is on the state to prove the person a danger in that situation. Not the reverse. So at any rate, I will say this, Richard, even the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia opposed my bill. But in private conversation, they told me, John, you’re right, you got the most civil liberties friendly version of this bill that there is anywhere in the country…

Related to this, my opponent likes to, at least leaves open the inference of the inference, that I’m in favor of de-funding the police. I am not. I want to give the police more money. Specifically, I want to raise their salaries. And I’ve always been an advocate for raising the salaries in the state police when I’ve been in the legislature, so there…..

Richard: Children themselves have very little risk. Of course, they’re teachers there. But generally the COVID itself has proven to be much less deadly than we thought, with something like 0.25% infection fatality rate. All that being said, it somewhat seems a lot of these things are political in the sense that there’s a lot of unnecessary restrictions, in my view. Do you have any comment on that?

John Doyle: I think you and I would disagree on some of those restrictions. I think some of them are necessary. But the bottom line is this. I trust the science. And the reason it’s gotten political, is that we have too many elected political leaders and appointed political leaders that have attempted to ignore the science for their own political benefit.

Richard: On the issue of taxation or increasing taxes, that’s a local issue, personally I know that was something we’re deciding here, I’m not for the excess levy. I think people are more capable of deciding how to spend their own money, so especially with things like the excess levy, and you could apply this out to the state level, the schools get funding mostly from the state level, or the state decides the funding. Would you say that we should, in some cases, increase taxes on gasoline or other things, or various kinds of taxes, personal property tax or different things, because there’s a need for various programs, or more to the side that, if people have more of their own money to spend, like the local school taxes, 40% for that excess levy increase in the property tax. I know it’s been in effect for decades, but it costs tax payers 40% more than if it wasn’t in effect. Should we reduce taxes? That’s the easy way to put it. Or do we need to increase them sometimes?

John Doyle: Some taxes should be reduced and some should not be. I have argued for doing away with the car tax. I think that is a real pain in the butt when it comes to the functioning of the economy. Now, if you do away with the tax, you either have to reduce the budget or you have to find another tax or fee or something, to replace the money. I advocate doubling the severance tax on energy-producing natural resources. That would give us an additional $250 million to $300 million a year in the state budget to do things with, and that would enable us to do away with the car tax. Now, it gets complicated because the car tax is part of the property tax. Property taxes go to local governments. So in order to do this, I think you have to mandate that the legislature come up with a replacement for local governments to get rid of that money. All of the property taxes go locally, and so I would insist that even though I’m for getting rid of the car tax, you’ve got to have an absolute, it would have to be done by a constitutional amendment, and there would have to be an absolute hard and fast mandate in that constitutional amendment forcing the legislature to replace the money for counties and cities and school districts dollar for dollar…

Richard: It’s kind of really weird that the Rockwool are is part of Ranson when it’s not. So I think that has been corrected, right? It’s not adjacent to Ransom. Am I not correct, that’s not adjacent?

John Doyle: No, they used a highway, that’s why it’s called pipe stem; sometimes called shoe string. You take two or three miles of a highway; it connects you to a farm. You annex the highway and the farm. And the irony is, it happened when Dave Hamill was mayor of Ranson, God rest his soul. Dave Hamill wanted to shed Ransom of its reputation as being a factory town. And he envisioned moving the train station, the commuter train station, from Duffields to that location, to Kearneysville. And turning that into a multi-use complex; offices, retail, apartments, single-family homes. And that was Dave Hamill’s vision, and that’s why he persuaded Ranson to do that, pipe stem annexation; to shed their manufacturing image. And look what we have now.

Richard: I’ll agree with you on the lack of transparency in that. That’s certainly a problem. I’m not enough up to answer properly about all the different legislation of 2001, and you said previous, but I do believe that has been corrected now, right, that is correct. The problem of the pipe stem and the minor boundary adjustment.

John Doyle: That is exactly right. When the second one happened, Herb Snyder and I went to work again, and we passed a bill, I think it was in 08, and that’s what created what’s called the urban growth boundary.

Richard: But Mr. Simon was saying there was a more recent bill in the last session or so about the so-called minor boundary adjustment.

John Doyle: There was… There was… And again, and he is right about this. The Municipal League and the County Commissioners Association are constantly fighting each other over stuff like this, and the legislature has to come in and referee, and what we usually say is, if you two come together on something, we’ll pass it. We’ll presume its okay with both of you and pass it. And that sort of approach usually works, but every now and then it doesn’t.

Richard: In conclusion, I guess you indirectly or directly talked about a lot, but did you want to say anything else about how you will differentiate yourself and why voters should choose you versus Mr. Simon?

John Doyle: I think I have, and I hope I’ve answered all your questions. I would just say this. He calls himself a common sense candidate, and I personally don’t think he’s making sense.

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West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

#60-Interview with Steve Cox-Independent Candidate for Sheriff-Jefferson County WV

Learn about Steve Cox’s diverse law enforcement experience and his view of law enforcement in Jefferson County WV.

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Steve Cox Interview Excerpts

Steve Cox: Great, thanks. Thanks for having me on. Again, my name is Steve Cox, I am a candidate for Sheriff of Jefferson County. I’m an independent candidate, which means I am politically unaffiliated, and I’ve been like that since the day that I registered as a voter, so I’m a life-long independent individual. On top of that, my feel about law enforcement is, politics shouldn’t be involved in that arena. So I like the fact that I’m an independent and I’m running for Sheriff using my background and experience.

Richard: Okay, yeah. So right now, here in Jefferson County, what do you think the biggest issue is? Right at the moment for the law enforcement or Sheriff’s department.

Steve Cox: It’s addiction. Hands down. Our drug problem; we’ve had a war on drugs. I think that phrase was kind of coined with Ronald Reagan, so we’ve been going through this war drugs for a very long time. And we’ve been able to do a lot of good things with it, but we can’t get ahead of it. And it’s because of this one component that’s in there, it’s called addiction. We cannot police our way out of the war on drugs, if we continue to ignore addiction. And I’ve been talking about this, and I’ve actually been talking about it for a very long time, much longer, than I’ve even been running for sheriff. If we don’t get a handle on addiction, we don’t help with addiction, and when I say we, I mean the government, we don’t try to help the addiction, we are never really going to make any good solid headway in the war on drugs. Our county, I’m not speaking nationwide, but our county, that is our county’s largest problem. It absolutely drives most of the crime that happens in this county, and I say that with confidence, using my 20 plus years in law enforcement locally and everywhere else, to see that it is our number one issue.

Richard: How did we get here? I work on some health issues, not particularly addiction, like Health Freedom and vaccine choice. There’s some interplay because they involve large pharmaceutical companies. A good percentage of people got addicted to prescription pain killers. What do you think about that? Is that a big factor? Or not really?

Steve Cox: Well, it’s a horrible thing. And it’s true. A lot of this stems from prescribed medicines. We in law enforcement, we know that people will actually jump on an airplane and fly to other states and scoop up a bunch of prescriptions, and I’m talking about a written prescription, back in the old days a written prescription, and they will collect a bunch of these up. They’ll obtain the prescriptions and they’ll come back to West Virginia and sell them. That’s just one method, but that’s something that probably was at least a big thing going back about five to 10 years ago. It was one way, probably a major way, that a lot of that was coming into our area. But prescription drugs is no doubt a huge factor in our addiction problem right now. And when those prescriptions run out, those addicts tend to run over to the illicit side of things and get those ____.

Richard: Since you’re talking about a more holistic approach on your website too, and you can’t really combat it, well, to some extent you can, through arresting people or jailing them. It seems like it exploded in the last decade, right, where this whole prescription drug thing, where they didn’t used to be opioids prescribed. I mean, I guess at least 10 or more years ago than that, and now it’s like we’ve got this huge mess. Should more be done on the legislative side or the business side? Did profit motive cause, at the expense of the health of the society cause a lot of this?

Steve Cox: I would hope that health officials and pharmaceuticals would not have pushed the use of these drugs to gain pure profit. It probably has happened, but that would be a very big issue. And to go back to the legislative side of things, I do think that this is an area, and I’m not for bigger, more government, but I think that is one of those areas where government does exist to make things better for us. And I think that they should get involved and see what we can do about introducing some legislation that would help prevent that problem. However, I will say that the medical field, the doctors themselves making these prescriptions, computer related programs that are tracking prescriptions, have helped a great deal. It’s just not enough. It’s like, telling police that you’re doing a great job, but… we still have a drug crisis. Yes, we all understand this, and I’d like to see that it doesn’t fall squarely always on law enforcement. It’s got to be shared. And that’s where I say addiction, addiction services and that sort of thing. We’ve got to get something done with that, even like you were saying at the legislative side. Why can’t we get some government assistance in legislation that helps with addiction?

Richard: I remember reading not so long ago about the illicit drug prescribers. Some town in West Virginia, I wasn’t here, Jefferson County, they got like 6 million or 60 million or some ridiculous number of prescriptions that it would have been enough for every person in the county to have like 50 pills or something. It was crazy.

Steve Cox: There’s doctors out there who do make money just based on passing out prescriptions. And I’ve heard about these doctors who have issued and millions and millions and millions of pills to a handful of people.

Richard: The profit thing, being in the health freedom, which is kind of another issue, we meaning like vaccination choice, that kind of thing. I’ve seen some nexus that these profit motives can actually go awry.

Steve Cox: I don’t want to throw a bunch of mud at politicians, but I don’t think that anybody is blind. And most all people have seen how politicians pockets get filled with money, even by pharmaceutical companies that are pushing for the wrong reason.

Richard: Campaign donations. That’s definitely a factor. Absolutely. Well, on another topic, with the current COVID 19 situation, there’s been different restrictions put in place by the governor and the health department. I had a funny experience on Memorial Day. I went down to Moulton Par. I live in Shannondale, and decided to have a picnic down there with a friend. I noticed that they had removed all the tables. I thought, why did they waste your money removing all of the tables. Anyway, the point was, the sign said the park was closed. But there were people sitting around anyway, and honestly, nobody was bothering them. Would you, as a law enforcement official, try to enforce dubious mandates? For instance, ‘Okay, this parks closed’, or even, this has happened in other jurisdictions, I know it happened in Berkeley County. Some store said, Okay, well, you know you violated a barber shop, in fact, you violated our mandate. You have to be closed. So presumably the Sheriff would be sent out to close that store. How would you handle things like that?

Steve Cox: Let’s talk directly to the executive orders that came down. There is nothing in these executive orders that allow or give the power to law enforcement to have any enforcement role in that, at all. What we’ve seen locally, for instance, in Shepherdstown, the town council issued orders to the Shepherdstown Police Department. We need to remember that the police departments are run by the elected mayor. So when the council got together, they and the mayor decided that they were going to enforce face mask regulations that they couldn’t necessarily enforce, they decided they were going to use the law of that covers trespassing. If you’re asked to put a face mask on and you fail to do so, they’re going to call the police on you. Can they do that? Well, if you refuse to leave their store, yes, you can be arrested for trespassing. But, we shouldn’t rely on police to police this issue. As a sheriff, if I were to become elected Sheriff, I will not be sending my deputies on calls that initiate from the refusal to wear face masks. I know a lot of people would say that I’m now completely against face mask.

That’s not the issue here. I encourage everybody to wear a face mask I wear then myself. However, it is not going to be something that you’re going to have me responding to. Once you tell people, yes, call us, we’re going to come and make somebody where a face mask, you’re going to get thousands of calls. And I don’t simply have time to enforce face masks. I will not do it.

Richard: Okay, that’s clear.

Steve Cox: To make things clear, if you allow me to get into this a little bit more.

Richard: Sure, go ahead.

Steve Cox: On my Facebook page, you’ll see a writing that I put up many months ago, and it was in response to Shepherdstown’s request to the law enforcement to get involved in this. And I put it out and I actually got a lot of positive comments about it. I had a few that were negative. People, I think, tried to twist it a little bit and talk about the fact that I don’t care about people’s property rights, and that’s a 100% wrong. Because, if you go back maybe a month or so, you’ll see that I’ve made a posting about erecting illegal signs on other people’s property.

Richard: I did see that.

Steve Cox: I pointed this out and tried to explain to everybody what the laws are. And so… No, property rights are property rights, but what I wanted to explain is, shop owners, business owners, you don’t want to get involved enforcing face masks on people. What if there’s a guardian and a child in a store. This child has an issue with wearing a mask, whether it be a disability or something like that. And one of the examples brought to me was a child with Downs’s syndrome. And they were taking the child out to socialize. It’s education, it was life experiences for socializing. Wouldn’t you feel really bad if you were the one that walked up to the parent and said ‘Your kid has to have a mask on to me in my store’, and they said, ‘Well, listen, we’re just trying to do our thing’, they say ‘well leave’ and it gets all heated, that law enforcement shows up and now law enforcement is, ‘Well’. We just took the socialization part of this experience and decreased that child’s social activity and awareness, and we just dropped that level. We just destroyed anything that was even happened that day or maybe many days before that, because somebody called the law enforcement. Or, there’s a case out there where two people in a store got into an argument, and one of the individuals pulled out a knife and stabbed the other person. That turned into a pursuit. Law enforcement got involved. And that individual was so enraged about what happened that they charged law enforcement and law enforcement discharged their weapons and that person is now dead.

And now we have an officer with a death on their hands because of a silly face mask issue that somebody had. How are we going to conduct ourselves, what are we going to think, when that type of situation comes here to Jefferson County, and it becomes a national news issue, and we bring all of that drama and all of that attention down on us, and we have the rioting and all that type of stuff that goes along with these situations. So arguing and fussing over face masks just isn’t worth it in the long run. And as Sheriff, I simply am not going to get involved with it. And shutting down businesses, we saw that right here in Jefferson County. The Sheriff got involved with shutting down a business. What business of the Sheriff’s is that? It’s none. Absolutely none. It’s a health department issue. If, and only when, the health department has an issue and they try to shut that down, and that individual declines to cooperate and they take it to a civil court, and that civil court then renders to me documentation that says, ‘Hey, he has to shut down’, then I will get involved as I’m required to do as a Sheriff in those civil issues.

Richard: It never got that far, did it? I think I know what you’re talking about, like the golf course and the gun range were shut down. I don’t believe any papers were ever filed. That was part of the issue, right?

Steve Cox: There was more issues than, I think, just an executive order from the Governor that came down about businesses and such. But I’d like to point out, that it was the only golf course shut down in the entire state of West Virginia. And Governor Jim Justice, who made the executive order, didn’t shut any of his own golf courses down. I’m not blaming Justice for this, I’m just saying it happened to be the only one that was attacked and the Sheriff had zero, absolutely no reason to get involved with that…

Richard: You mentioned that maybe your second most important issue is more out of the Police Department. And I guess that might interrelate somewhat with the issue of training. Would you do anything different or introduce anything? Would you like to just generally address that issue of morale and maybe the related issue of training officers?

Steve Cox: So I think good leadership coming in will help fix officer morale. I also believe that getting somebody in there that the guys actually know is going to be good for them. Most of those guys, actually, everybody except for two of those deputies working over there, came in during my tenure there in Ranson, maybe just after I started. I can think of maybe two, two guys, Dave Colbert and Foreman, who have been there just a little bit longer, been around law enforcement in Jefferson County, just a little bit longer than me. A familiar face that they worked with and didn’t deal with as administration, will go a long way to increase morale. They’re getting a guy that’s been out there working the streets with them in the past, and I think that’s going to make them, one happy, and they’re going to have a great outlook for the future. So morale will increase. The training aspect of this; so I didn’t go into great detail about who I am and what I’ve done in my life, but my entire adult professional career has been law enforcement. I started back in ’98 as a police officer in Ranson. Actually… before that, back in the early ’90s, I was a Frederick County Sheriff’s Department cadet in Virginia.

I’ve been doing this for quite some time. But we’ll stick to the professional side of things, 1998. I became a law enforcement instructor many years after that, and I actually served with the United States Department of State as a law enforcement instructor. Now, I did that here, across the country and world-wide., There is not another candidate on this ticket who appreciates training as much as I do. This was my full-time job for 10 plus years. I wasn’t a part-time instructor who went back to the station and took calls. I was a full-time law enforcement instructor, you name it. I have instructed in it, I’ve taught it, I’ve written curriculum, developed it and delivered it.

So in law enforcement in West Virginia, there’s a minimum training certification required. Minimum hours, it’s got to cover certain topics. All of that has to be done. Continuing education is also mandated by law, that has to be done. But, the training that is sometimes used as your mandatory yearly training, is the same thing all officers get, year after year after year. And I’m not saying that good repetitive training should be in the future, what I’m saying is the repetitive, free, cheap training that we use to continue to keep our certifications, I’m going to stop that. We’re going to start looking at things like your everyday tools. Firearm control and retention type of stuff. Driving… These guys, some of them have never even been through a driving school before. We have a great facility right over here where I live in Summit Point…

Steve Cox: So that’s one of the things that irritates me, when I hear some of the other guys talk, they say, well, we can get this free money from the government and you can get free training. No it’s not free money from the government. We can apply for grant money. That grant money is actually tax money. Yes, we can do that. And I plan on doing that. We have to do that. Let’s flip this thing back about eight months ago. COVID 19 hit. It shut this county down for three months. The bulk of our money comes from the property taxes. What the percentage is, I’m not exactly sure, but it’s more than what we get from businesses. But if you don’t think three months or a quarter of the year worth of business income into this county isn’t going to hurt, then you’re kidding yourself.

It’s going to hurt. I’ve heard other people running for Sheriff, running for other elected offices, get into this thing and say, we’re going to be just fine. I never thought that for a minute. I said every day that this continues it’s just going to get worse. And we have to start looking at, when does this end? At the end of it, I still hear people say, oh, we’re doing fine. Now, everybody sees that there’s a problem. We had a problem when this thing hit. So we have to figure out how we’re going to provide essential services to this county. I’m not talking just the Sheriff’s office. All of the essential services that we provide, we have to figure out how we’re going to do that. And unfortunately, what I think is going to happen is the non-essential services that we also provide are going to have to take a sideline. People don’t want to hear that. You can’t take that away from me. Well, we have to do. We have to use the money that we do have for the things that we as government police have to provide you.

Richard: It seems like there has to be some trimming all around.

Steve Cox: Absolutely. Everybody has to trim. So a big question is, and I get this a lot. What about manpower? A lot of the officer morale that I’m hearing from other people, is that there’s not enough people at the Sheriff’s office. I don’t believe that is a huge issue in the officer morale. In fact, I think on day one, if I was to walk into that Sheriff’s office, I can provide everything I need to provide with the manpower that I have. I’m going to mix things up a little bit, and that’s going to help with the manpower issues. Well, let’s go back a year, a year ago, this about this time last year, the new budget stuff was being thought of and created, and the current Sheriff asked for 10 new deputies. He hasn’t asked for 10 deputies since he’s been in office, so it was kind of weird that is asking for it in this very last year as sheriff, but he asked for it. Where are we going to get the budget? We have to actually look at trimming what we have to keep what we have. We can’t afford to bring on 10 new guys, it would be great if we could…

Steve Cox: We have some law enforcement experienced candidates, which is great compared to what we’ve had previous. A lot of inexperience and a lot of just absolute no experience in law enforcement. I think what stands me above and beyond what everybody else has to offer this county is the diversity in my experience. I have been a law enforcement officer right here in Jefferson County. I left and worked for the United States Department of State’s Law Enforcement branch as a law enforcement instructor. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. I’ve done it here and world-wide. I’ve held multiple ranks. My jobs have been, for the most part, all inclusive of a lot of different things, and I’m not going to name off all 20 or 30 different things that I’ve ever done in law enforcement, but my diversity is what sets me apart. From that, being a public employee to being a business owner that I currently am, my business itself is wrapped up in law enforcement. It is completely related to the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. I spend my work days in the courthouse and at the jail. I have the power of arrest, so even outside of that public paycheck I used to get, my own functioning company, which is not paid for by the government, paid for by individuals that pay me for my services.

Everything about my adult career has been law enforcement, so when we’re talking the Sheriff’s position in particular, and you’re dealing with what is written in the Constitution, his job, criminal, civil and in taxes. I have covered all of those and I’ve been very successful in doing all of those. And if you look at my competition, you’ll see a history of a lot of failed inability to complete tasks and serve their office. You’re not going to find that with me. So come November 3rd, before you get there, do your research. You don’t have to listen to me. I want you to go and do your research, look into each and every one of these individuals and come out of it and tell yourself what you want as a Sheriff and go, check that box. I’m going to be there. And I’m the last one in the column, Cox for Sheriff.

Categories
West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with Wayne Clark-Republican Candidate for WV House of Delegates-District 65

Learn more about Wayne Clark and his views on COVID rules, school choice and much more.

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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.

Categories
West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Vote Against the Jefferson County School Excess Levy Mega Property Tax

By Richard Urban

Recently, without any public discussion or notification, and in the midst of the economic hardships of the Corona Virus, the Jefferson County Board of Education voted school officials an annual salary increase of $310,000.  This increase is tied to percentage of total salary, and will continue to reap benefits for school administrative staff for years to come.  This increase was also voted in at the last meeting before new school board member Donna Joy took her seat on July 1st, 2020. 

Now, we the voters of Jefferson County are asked to renew this wasteful and expensive tax, which more than doubles the amount of school tax collected, while increasing overall property tax bills by a whopping 40%.  On a rental property valued at $225,000 that means a monthly increase of property taxes of $103, or $1239 per year.  That means renters will pay over $100 per month extra for rent that their landlord will pass along to them.  Similarly, homeowners will also pay over $50 per month extra.

The Board of Education has apparently come to consider these funds as an entitlement.  Voters have to hire a detective to figure out where the funds went.  It took some three months for the Spirit of Jefferson newspaper to get the information needed to calculate for themselves how much salary increase each of 38 administrative employees got.  The highest amount was $20,755 annual increase, with the average annual increase being $9207. 

Only about two percent of the excess levy goes toward increasing teacher and service personnel salary.  Due to lack of transparency, it is impossible to readily ascertain how much is spent on additional non-teacher positions, like librarians, and how much is paid for the bloated administrative staff, now at 38 positions to administer 1280 school personnel and 8900 students.  In contrast, the much larger Kanawha County school system serves 25,373 students and has 47 administrators!

Another example is the lack of transparency into what the legal expenses of the Jefferson County School System are.  No invoices detail how much is paid for legal services.  In fiscal 2019, $997,678 were paid to EPIC, an inter-county organization that provides support services for schools.  However, the invoices do not say what the expenditures were for.  One of the services provided by EPIC is the services of attorney Laura Sutton, although that is not one of the stated services listed on their website.

Also, don’t forget the $140,000 the Board of Education foolishly spent (that we know of) trying to condemn the Rockwool property after it changed its mind about the Rockwool plant due to public outcry.

On a closing note, teachers in Jefferson County earn an average of $50, 327 and are contracted to work 200 days (40 weeks) per year.  As I mentioned above, only some 2 percent of this pay comes from the excess levy mega tax.  Much of the tax goes toward the bloated administration, excessive legal expenses and who knows what else.  And due to a lack of transparency, we won’t know what else.

In 2015, less that 14 percent of registered voters voted in favor of the excess levy mega tax, saddling all county property owners with the huge mega tax.  Be sure to vote on November 3rd, and vote “AGAINST THE LEVY” on the school excess levy mega tax.  Also vote “NO (AGAINST THE BOND ISSUE) on the school bond issue, which will increase taxes even further.  The Jefferson County School Board cannot be trusted for a transparent accounting of your tax dollars and the above examples show how your tax dollars are being spent wastefully.

Categories
West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with Elliot Simon-Republican Candidate for WV House of Delegates-67th District

Find out about Elliot Simon and his views on the proper role of government during the COVID crisis, individual freedoms and much more.

Listen to the Podcast

Excerpts from the Interview with Elliot Simon

Elliot Simon: Great, thank you very much for having me here, Richard, and it’s a pleasure. I am indeed running in 67th against John Doyle, he’s been in office for a very, very long time, and I really do think it’d be time for a change. I ran against him 10 years ago, unsuccessfully I might add. And I really think that times are a bit different these days. Been in my house here for 19 years, and I’ve been involved in the community quite a bit. I’m retired, I was in the transportation business, and I did logistics consulting, and IT consulting, and now I’m so busy, I don’t even know how I ever had time for a job…

Richard: I know what you mean.

Elliott Simon: I serve on the executive committee of the local GOP. I’m on the Board of Governors of the Eastern Panhandle Business Association, and I’m the chair of the Jefferson County Emergency Services Agency. So it keeps me pretty busy. And now I’ve been appointed by the Committee to run against John Doyle, and I’m very excited about it.

Richard: I think it’s an exciting race, too. I’ve talked to Mr. Doyle. I have some passions. I met him to chat over some of those. I’m sure we’ll be discussing them. So what do you think is the most important issue facing West Virginia right now?

Elliot Simon: It’s kind of multi-pronged. I was very excited about the progress that we’ve made in terms of getting our economy, which has been a perennial loser for all these years. There was a sea change in the state politics five or six years ago. Actually in 2014, there was a changeover in both houses, and it was finally an opportunity to actually change things and to re-direct policy and to turn our economy around and it was successful. And West Virginia was on the rise and was on the upswing. And our economy, actually in 2017, fastest growing economy in the entire country., We’ve been hit with a bit of a road block with this COVID 19, coronavirus is really how I refer to it. It’s been a problem. I would like to see how we can get our economy back on track and continue the progress that we were enjoying until then.

Richard: With the current mask mandate, and social distancing mandate for stores and places of business, has the governor overstepped his bounds? Of course, we had the different decrees or mandates; stay safer at home. Or do you think he’s doing a pretty good job?

Elliot Simon: He’s trying to walk a very fine line, and it’s a very difficult thing to do. There’s some things he’s done right and there’s some things he’s done wrong. On a matter of general principle, it’s never okay, and it’s never justified and the government just doesn’t even have the authority to tell a business that they have to be closed for a reason that is not sure. This is not a war-time situation, this is a pandemic. And in fact, some people are wondering if it actually fits the definition of a pandemic.

Richard: I totally know what you mean. I’ve been writing on that in my blog too. I saw on your blog, for instance, you were listing the revised death rates like about 0 for under 20 and so on, so I know what you’re saying.

Elliot Simon: So one of the things that he has done recently is that his most recent orders, and it’s not so recent, it’s actually a couple of months ago, where he said that when social distancing is not feasible, wear a mask. But they also acknowledge, he acknowledged, that that’s not enforceable. The problem was picking winners and losers at the beginning as to what’s an essential business and what is not an essential business. The government should never be doing that. But that said, if you’re going to be in a situation where you cannot social distance and you do not trust the environment that you are in where the mask. But don’t wear it for very long. And when you leave and your outdoors, take the mask off. It’s really not that good for you. It traps all that stuff inside of you. It’s actually not good for your immune system. But if a business says that you should wear the mask while you’re in their business, do so, but again, when you get out. I see people jogging and riding bicycles with masks on.

Richard: I hear you. I agree with you on that. As a delegate, will you rewrite the rules, so to speak? Right now, correct me if I’m wrong, there isn’t any time limit on these emergency powers, and they’re defined vaguely in the Code, West Virginia Code. Would you fix that? As a delegate, like make a 30-day limit, so the legislature will come back? And also I have to add one other thing before I turn it over, is that I’m kind of baffled, why hasn’t the legislature come back? Are they afraid to go against Mr. Justice, because they’re mostly Republicans or what’s going on?

Elliot Simon: It’s funny because when he was elected, he was a Democrat. He’s now Republican. It’s an interesting dynamic in and of itself. But the legislature is, I think, in the upcoming session going to address the code that gives the governor, the emergency powers. And you’re right, it should be for a limited period of time, should be for, and I think you’re saying 30 days, I think that’s probably a good period of time. And then after that, it should be up to legislative review. Come in and we’ll do a special session, and I think the legislature is going to look at this in the upcoming session. You’re right.

Richard: I understand what you’re saying, that you would be definitely in favor of putting in place that kind of clear law, where it says 30 days and we’ll have to review. The legislature will have to come to session. Not like now where they have to get, I think it is, what is it? Three-fifths of the legislature or something, but automatically they will come back. Would you say that’s right?

Elliot Simon: Well, you never know what the legislature is going to do or going to get done, and it’s also subject to; I mean the governor could veto a bill that the legislature puts through. But from people that I’ve talked to, the legislature is clearly concerned. There’s some that I’ve spoken to that are concerned and that nobody should have unlimited power, so that’s something to adjust.

Richard: I saw on your blog, the ghost of Jefferson blog, you’re talking about how the Rockwool plant came to be, in the sense about the laws about annexation and so on. Do you want to say anything along those lines or about that issue?

Elliot Simon: In fact, I’m glad you asked, because that’s the Hegelian dialectic almost, at work. So I create a problem, and also then you propose the solution. And that’s sort of like wash, rinse, repeat. One of the things that’s at work here, a general philosophy of government interference in local ordinances, laws. Specifically, it was the zoning. And back in 2001, SB 202 was proposed by then Senator Herb Snyder, supported by John Unger, who’s still in the Senate, and also John Doyle. Well, who I’m running against. And what this did was gave municipalities the authority to annex land to expand the boundaries of their municipality. And so it was called annexation without election. And what it allowed was what they called a minor boundary adjustment. And so the visible result of that legislation was that Charles Town annexed along 340, they went out for several miles, and they grabbed a piece of land that the Sheetz and the Aldi now are on. And the Tractor Supply Store. And there’s also a subdivision there with some townhouses. And people started getting concerned about the fact that Charles Town had defeated the county zoning and the Charles Town zoning took precedence. And unbeknownst to anybody else, while this was going on, Ranson annexed the land that Rockwool was on.

So that happened in 2004, so they proposed to do a fix on that, so in 2009, they said, Okay, no more of these pipe stem annexations. And there was legislation passed that created an urban boundary, an urban growth boundary around those pipe stems and gave the municipalities even more power to annex land. And it wasn’t a fix. And it wasn’t until Senator Rucker introduced legislation in the last session that ended this practice that the problem was solved.

Richard: Is this partially a tax grab? Why did the cities want more land so they can get taxes or Charles Town has a 1% extra tax on sales and also I guess on the property tax, or what’s the motivation behind it?

Elliot Simon: There’s a lot of reasons why any government is going to try and annex land and grow bigger. You’re growing your town and by growing your town, you’re growing the authority of the government, yes. And you are increasing your tax base. So there’s a lot of reasons for it. And it’s an interesting thing is that this is an ongoing battle between the municipality and the county commission association across the state of West Virginia. So there’s sort of like this rivalry between the two levels of government. Because I think that people on the left like cities and they like urban settings, because generally you’ll wind up with city councils that are more liberal and more left leaning. I think partially motivates these kinds of bills. So the result is, is that all of a sudden they throw up their hands and they say, ‘Well, how can this happen, how can Rockwool come here? Well, it’s because of your policies and then because of your leanings and your biases. And the Municipal League is constantly trying to take jurisdiction away from county governments, which have a more rural leaning to them and to give it to the municipalities.

Richard: One thing that I’ve been working on, and actually, this was an issue and that I met with Mr. Doyle about, is the issue of health freedom and/ or vaccination choice. The fact that, as you know, in our state, basically we have a no vaccine, no school policy. And no exemptions. Except extremely hard to get medical exemptions. The question is, would you support allowing parents to have religious and conscientious exemptions: to have their own choice about whether their children, or in work situations, even themselves, would get vaccines?

Elliot Simon: You know, it’s interesting, Richard, there’s on the left, they’re always talking about my body, my choice. Well, you own your own body, and I believe, yes, there should be exemptions because… And especially look at what’s happening now with this Coronavirus. They’re rushing to market the vaccine that is not going to go through the normal testing process.

Richard: I can give a story about that one, so called normal, which isn’t very normal, but go ahead.

Elliot Simon: That’s a big concern to a lot of people. And if you’re going to be injecting chemicals into your body, you really need to know that they are going to be safe. And frankly, since 1986, which is when the legislation as signed into law by then Ronald Reagan. The pharmaceutical companies aren’t subject to the same liability laws that other companies and other industries are. And we really do need to look at that as well.

Richard: Your opponent has stated to me clearly, in case it’s not on record elsewhere, that he is not for removing any of these mandates for vaccinations, so that’s a clear difference between you, on that point.

Elliot Simon: Right, I really do think that a person owns their own body, the government does not own your body. And I’ve also read now that there are studies that show that herd immunity only works when it happens naturally. Look at this Coronavirus. Sweden has achieved herd immunity against the virus by essentially doing nothing. And so I think we really do need to look at the way other people and other governments have handled this situation. And sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing.

Richard: I’m with you on that. The whole thing, that’s part of reason I was asking about Governor Justice. I mean, the whole thing with the schools and these different red, yellow and green zones, and literally, if there’s like, Okay, it’s like a very few cases three cases [3 thousandths of one percent, or.003% with COVID], some random number that might not be the right number, a very small number, then schools have to close or there’s going to be on some kind of alert. I think it’s totally the wrong approach. Like you said, I mean, it’s a virus. It’s like the flu. Can you imagine? I mean, it’s almost like by this logic, we should shut down everything because there’s a bad flu season, which there was two years ago, and it doesn’t make any sense. Where is Governor Justice getting his advice? It’s wrong in my opinion.

Elliot Simon: There are some estimates that there could be tens of millions of people that die if the world goes into a global recession. If the response to the coronavirus throws the world into a global recession then millions of people will die, will starve. In fact, because of the lockdowns, there’s been a spike in suicide rates, drug abuse, domestic violence, sometimes we need to look at the fact that sometimes we don’t see the unintended consequences of our actions, and so sometimes we should try and think things through a little better.

Richard: I’m with you on that. Well, I don’t think it should be a Democrat-Republican issue, but it seems like sometimes Democrats are using it as a weapon, and then the Republicans sometimes… I’m very frustrated about the response in our state in general.

Elliot Simon: I’m biased in that regard. It’s funny, I’ll confess something here to you, Richard, I was a Democrat for most of my life, and it wasn’t until about 15 years ago that I realized that that party had left me. And the values that I see coming from the left, the Defund the police, and some of the things that are happening on college campuses. And the violence and the riots. I was early, and I’m proud of the fact that I was early about leaving that party, and there’s a tremendous walk away movement happening now because people are just, frankly fed up.

Richard: Yeah, I hear what you’re saying on that. On another issue yet, where do you stand on the issue of when does life begin?

Elliot Simon: I’ve come around to the view that life begins at conception.

Richard: Our nonprofit deals with teaching youth to stay abstinent before marriages. I have been involved with that many years. So a corollary question, and I know it’s not the primary role of government to teach sexual health, but, I believe in West Virginia and virtually every state they do teach so-called HIV AIDS prevention, which inevitably means you do have to talk about sexual health, which inevitably means there’s got to be some focus for it. So the short question is, would, or do you support teaching that school age youth should be abstinent before marriage, that that’s the preferred standard.

Elliott Simon: Well, mores in terms of how we live our live from a moral standpoint, really that needs to come from the home. Parents need to teach their kids the difference between right and wrong. If you’re going to teach biology, fine. There should be a certain moral component and an ethics component, and of course in schools, schools for kids, until a child reaches the age of consent, of course, schools should be promoting and recommending and teaching abstinence. Once a child grows up and becomes an adult, then they can make their own decisions.

Richard: What are some other points, or there are some other points of your platform, you know that we haven’t touched on, you’d like to emphasize; how you differentiate from Mr. Doyle and why the voters should vote for you?

Elliott Simon: Mr. Doyle, he’s kind of a maverick, even within his own party. John has said on many occasions that he aligns more with the Mountain Party then he does with the Democrat party. And that’s pretty far left. And yet at a forum that I appeared at with him, he said that he does not support the Green New Deal, but he supports the Mountain Party, which supports the Green New Deal. So I get really ____ sometimes. Recently, he was the only legislator to vote against not taxing Social Security benefits, so it passed, everybody in both houses voted for this legislation, and he didn’t. And his response was that he thinks that the state needs the money more than somebody on social security. Also with all of the riots thank goodness has on around the country, people’s safety and the safety of their homes and their property and their kids and all of that; West Virginia thank goodness has something called the Castle Doctrine. And the Castle Doctrine says that you are within your rights to use whatever force is necessary to defend yourself, your family and your home. And that passed in 2008 in the legislature. It passed 34 to nothing in the Senate and 97 to 1 in the House, of course, John Doyle was the one who voted against it. And he said, you have a duty to retreat and he cited British common law. Which, that’s for England. And here in the United States, we have a different ethos and a different way of looking at things. So, those are kind of radical things that I think people don’t realize, how really out there he is. I think that really what we need is some common sense here in the legislature, and I think I can provide that.

Categories
West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with Mary Ann Claytor-Democratic Candidate for WV Auditor

Richard Urban Show #54
Learn about Mary Ann Claytor, her accounting experience and her take on improving how the Auditor’s office oversees expenditures of your tax dollars.

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Excerpts from the Mary Ann Claytor Interview

Mary Ann Claytor Article

Mary Ann Claytor: Well, my name is Mary Ann Claytor, and I’m the Democratic candidate for West Virginia state auditor and happen to be the only candidate running for state auditor that actually has an accounting degree. Twenty two years of experience as a real auditor and have years of experience in governmental accounting. And I’m just so happy that you’ve asked me to come on so that everybody can get to know our candidates.

Richard Urban: Absolutely. So did you work for the State Auditor’s office or where did you get your experience?

Mary Ann Claytor: I worked for the West Virginia State Auditor’s office. I resigned in 2014 because my son became paralyzed from the neck down. I made the decision to take off so that I could take care of him. And during that time though, I started my own business doing financial statements for local governments. But he passed away in January after a long battle. But we were able to take care of him at home. And that’s something I’m very proud that the Lord gave us that ability and the knowledge that we needed under the circumstances, so that we could spend as much quality time as we could, and not have to put them in a facility. That was the main reason I left the Auditor’s Office, because I didn’t want to place him into a Facility.

Richard: Okay, wow, that’s beautiful. You could care for him like that. You mentioned you’ve been an auditor for a while. Do you have other qualifications you want to talk about?

Mary Ann Claytor: I have characteristics that really don’t have anything to do with being an auditor. I’m a preacher. I do prison ministry and nursing home ministry, which I haven’t been able to do at this time. I have a Bachelor of Science and Business Administration with a concentration in accounting. And I have a Master’s degree in religion.

Richard: Those are important things. You need a lot of integrity as auditor, right?

Mary Ann Claytor: Yes, you do.

Richard: I was looking into some of the things preparing for the program about some of the West Virginia programs, like the Mountaineer and the WV Checkbook. Things I hadn’t really paid attention to, which I need to. And also the purchasing card program, I noticed that was on the state and auditor’s site. What’s the purpose of that? Is that a good program? The purchasing card program.

Mary Ann Claytor: So Mr. Gainer, who was the former auditor, he started. So we have the state program, and we also have a local government program, and it has cut down on paperwork because they’re able to make their purchases instead of issuing checks, but you have got to make sure you have controls and you have got to make sure you have oversight in those areas. A part of our fraud section, what they used to do was to do audits of those P-card transactions. We have oversight within the office where they’re just kind of looking at those things, but it’s different than when you actually go out to look at the back up that is associated with a transaction that came through. Because Walmart; you might see a transaction comes through for a Walmart. Well, that may be an okay transaction, maybe they had to get some supplies or something, but if you actually go and you look at the invoice, then you would see that oh, they didn’t really buy supplies, they bought something else. So you still need those eyes on actual supporting documentation. I haven’t been able to find, since I left, on the website, we used to always post those audits of those P-card transactions online. I’m a type of person that I won’t say, Oh, this is definitely not been done, and I’m not attacking. I have to look at myself in the mirror. I lay out the facts and deficiencies. That’s the type of person that I am. And that’s the way I run my campaign. That’s the way that I would like to see everybody across West Virginia, United States, run their campaign. So we can really talk about the issues and talk about deficiencies that are going on in our government. But I’m not attacking a person’s character.

Richard: With the purchasing card, or you call it a P-card, are you saying that if you use the check system, then they would automatically see the invoice or not necessarily, whereas with a purchasing card, you might just see, Oh, Walmart $200 or… That’s not true? Is there more detail with the old system or is something lacking with the new system, or what?

Mary Ann Claytor: As far as transparency and knowing what people spent money for and actually seeing an invoice, we are still lacking in that. And that is something that I would like to institute. We shouldn’t have to have our citizens do FOIAs to see what an actual expenditure consisted of, other than, you can see the description. And plus, we spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the West Virginia Oasis program, and we need to hold those companies accountable for products that our citizens are purchasing. Because this is what we have to realize as citizens. It is that we are purchasing these products, even though we haven’t gave the approval for purchasing these products, but it is our money, so we have a right to know. So one of the things I would like to do within the West Virginia OASIS is try to combine some of the attributes of the Checkbook with the OASIS, because it is better if we have centralized accounting systems and that we are able to use the source information system to the best of its ability instead of extracting data and putting it into another program for people to see.

Richard: It sounds like that’s what the Checkbook thing is, right?

Mary Ann Claytor: Yes, it kind of extracts the data.

Richard: What is the OASIS?

Mary Ann Claytor: I was already gone when they really got it going. Some people may have known, before we had this Vista program where you can go and look up the expenditures, and then they decided, we had all these different financial accounting systems that different organization agencies were using, so they decided they wanted to do something centralized, which I believe is a positive move. We just need to go further with it and making it more transparent…

Richard: I was reading up about the Mountaineer and the WV Checkbook. One thing I noticed, because I’m interested in local issues, I’m over here in Jefferson County. And they’re not yet on this system. The county says it’s “awaiting data” for the Checkbook program [on the website]. Do you know anything about that? I see 12 counties are online and the rest aren’t. It says Jefferson County is “awaiting data”. Can you give us any insight into what that means?

Mary Ann Claytor: And I would have taken a different approach on this too. So your information is only, the transparency that we’re seeing from local governments, it’s only as good as the accounting records that are underneath. And like I had told you before, everybody has their own accounting system in local governments. I’m not for sure in Jefferson, if they have CSSI, which is a company or our Software Systems. But mainly there’s those two primary ones. I would have probably taken taking a different approach in working with those software companies to say, ‘This is something that we would like to do, so that entities can put their information out on their websites. The West Virginia Association of Counties set up a basic website for each county, also, for those who don’t have that. It just had some basic information, contact information, but most counties that can’t afford a website, they have a website that they’re active with, and also they’re required to publish financial statements with the vendor information, so we already have some transparency at that level. It’s extra work for the county clerks to extract this data out of their system in order for them to upload that into the Mountaineer Checkbook. So that may be the issue that they’re having. Some decided that they left it up to their county clerks, where in a lot of places, they are already low on staff, so you’re thinking, Okay, anybody that wants this information, they will give it to them. And with West Virginia, everybody doesn’t have internet, so everybody’s not going to be able to access it anyway. That’s why they publish them in the newspapers that the local people generally use, so that they can see that information…

Richard: I looked at Berkley County, which is online, and I couldn’t find the Board of Education, is that a whole different thing than the county?

Mary Ann Claytor: That’s a separate entity. The Board of Education as their own system too. And the thing about the Board of Education is all Boards of Educations have the same system. So, in that capacity, we could have worked with them to develop something where they could publish online if we want it to be online.

Richard: So is there any plan to get that into the Checkbook or that’s just excluded, the Board of Education?

Mary Ann Claytor: So it’s up to each entity to provide that information. So people would have to talk to them. And like I said, I don’t know if it’s such a big concern for our citizens, I really don’t, because if you’re local to that area, you understand, every year they see that they’ve published the vendors….

Richard: As auditor, how would you encourage being less wasteful? One thing, someone was telling me, who is in the federal government, that he works in the patent office. Say they had a budget. Say it was $20 million and then the fiscal year is ending. He said, Well, you know, if they find out, Oh gosh, we’ve got $3 million left, instead of saying, Oh hey, why don’t we cut our budget $3 million, they’ll try to use it up for something, I mean, not maybe illegal, but it seems to be wasteful. How would you encourage, when the right thing to do, would be to say, oh gosh, we could save the taxpayers $3 million. Hey, we’ll tell them, we don’t need so much money next year. But apparently what happens, he tells me, and you would know this better, being auditor, they try to use it up or something so they’ll get the same amount next year. Could you talk about that kind of thing?

Mary Ann Claytor: Yes, they have a mindset, ‘But if I don’t spend it, that they’re not going to give it back to me next year. Yes, I’ve seen people, buy a whole bunch of pens and pencils, and it’s not illegal. I have always been a type of person when I audited, I would ask questions about things that I thought were unusual. Because it’s hard, everybody has a different definition of waste. So the auditor really doesn’t have power to stop waste in a sense of saying, ‘you can’t buy that’. Now, what they can do is shed a light. And that’s basically what we do. And so, as your next auditor, one of the approaches that I would take at the state level is a lot of times we don’t hear about things until something gets leaked. I think it’s the auditor’s responsibility, that if there is something that comes up a little extravagant, maybe not, don’t nitpick about things, but if it’s something that is like the couch thing.

Richard: Oh yeah, the Supreme Court justices, right.

Mary Ann Claytor: So things like that, I feel like we need to let the public be aware and leave it up to the public to have the outcry that we need to do, to get the changes made. Because I always told people when I was auditing, I would ask the question. So they were a little more wary about making certain purchases because I was asking and I would always say, ‘If you do not feel comfortable going in front of a public meeting and asking to purchase these items, let that be your litmus test to not purchase it or to purchase it’. If you feel comfortable that everybody is going to know about this purchase, then make it. But our hands are tied by the laws and regulations of the state of West Virginia and Federal, as far as our stopping a payment. You see, and this is one thing I will tell you, I will not lie to anybody to get their vote, to let them think that I have more power than I have to be able to stop a purchase, because the purchase is legal. Extravagant, yes. But it’s legal.

Richard: So more transparency would be, I think what you’re saying. ‘Hey, somebody purchased the couch for $20,000 the last week of the fiscal year or whatever, you know.

Mary Ann Claytor: We as citizens, we have the power. They may want to make us believe that we don’t, but we have the power through our votes and through our voices throughout the year because we tend to… I don’t know, we are also busy with our lives and the things that are going on our lives that we don’t always pay attention. But we have got to get to the point that we do pay more attention and try to get more involved in what’s going on in our government, so that we can stop it before it gets too out of hand.

Richard: I think so. I think this whole, like here, that’s a huge issue, the school tax thing, it was passed in December five years ago, like less than 2000 people [actually 4585] voted for this mega-tax, and it literally jacks up your property tax 40 percent. Say I owe to $1000 in property tax. Well, now, because of the school excess levy tax it’s almost $1700. So this year though, a lot of people will be voting, it will be on the November ballot. But I think that exemplifies the point, a lot of people were asleep at the wheel when that thing went through, but I think now they’re probably more awake with a huge tax bills we’ve been getting here in property tax in Jefferson County.

Mary Ann Claytor: Well, it’s the same thing with the road bond, because that was a very… I can’t remember the numbers, but it was very low voter turnout [122,419 votes statewide, total]. That’s what people have to understand, that you’re letting a small number of people determine the outcome of governments by your staying home and not voting. I wasn’t really for the road bond because I’m not for taxation that increases to our most vulnerable population, because the workers, they had to pay more, because West Virginia, our demographics, it’s different than other places. So, you have people that are making minimum wage, barely able to take care of their families, and now you’ve got to pay more to get to work. And then we saw, it was supposed to be at lightning speed. We need this bond so that we can get the roads fixed at lightning speed. And then we didn’t get lightning speed. And we’re using COVID money for that, which is suspect. Not really that we’re using the Bond money.

Richard: COVID money for what are you referring to?

Mary Ann Claytor: The governor decided, we have some COVID highways, and so he’s going to use the Cares Act money to fix the roads, which he’s already started in Greenbrier County.

Richard: Oh, Greenbrier! What a coincidence. With his resort there.

Mary Ann Claytor: When the band went through, he was a Democrat at that time, and I spoke out because I said, I’m not for regressive taxes, wand that’s what people need to know about me is that I’m not just talking about this COVID money because I’m a Democrat, and he’s now a Republican. I would have talked about it anyway. Because that’s the type of person I am. I don’t care who’s in power, wrong is wrong. Right is right, no matter who it is. Because I’m getting a little tired of we’re silent when it’s on our team, and we’re vocal when it’s not on our team…

Mary Ann Claytor: The auditor is the official bookkeeper for West Virginia and also the supervisor of public offices, and in that capacity, in the state level is where we are responsible for the expenditures that go out, making sure, they’re in compliance. And then the local governments, we’re responsible for audits of those local governments. So when we were talking about the School Board, County Commissions, all the elected officials within those offices. And we’re also responsible for approving the budgets of local governments. We have a lot more duties that we do in regards to local governments than we actually do with the state level, and currently the audits are further behind under the current auditor. When you compare when the former auditor went out, if you just look at the county government, it was 11% behind in 2016. If you look at 2014, he was about 11% behind. He always had a problem with the municipalities though. But with the current auditor, it is now about 45% behind in that one category.

Richard: The category being counties?

Mary Ann Claytor: In 2018, yes. And so if you look at the 2018, so we need to be able to get in there and get those audits done. I’m more proactive than I believe he is. And that’s the difference I want people to understand, because one of my goals is that I will have visited with, on my first four years, each entity that we audit to assess accounting needs. Because, getting full transparency, that’s only as good as the underlying records. So we to be able to go in there and talk to the entities based on the resources that they have available, so we can get everybody’s books up to par. And my having the knowledge that I have, I won’t have to send staff in to do that. I will be able to assess those needs and talk to people and understand what they’re talking about. I think that’s the big thing, is not to have to have somebody sitting beside you, as a staff member, because you don’t understand the Accounting Information, which is something that I’ve garnered over through my education and through all the experience that I have. And so that’s one of the main reasons that I’m running for auditor. Because it’s about fixing the things that I know that need to be improved so that we all can work efficiently for the citizens, because that is what it’s about. I’m a citizen.

Just because you run for office doesn’t make you no longer be a citizen and have concerns. And that people would be able to talk to me, express their concerns, and I’m the type of person that will follow up on the concerns of the citizens. Because it’s not about getting elected in the next four years, it’s about improving, and if you do a good job, that’s when we should re-elect people, when they do a good job, not just based on other issues. That’s just the way I feel.

Categories
West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with John King-Independent Candidate for Sheriff-Jefferson County WV

Learn about John Kings experience, attitude toward public service and much more in this interview. Richard Urban Show episode #53.

Listen to the Podcast

Excerpts from the John King Interview

John King:  Good Morning, Richard, thank you for having me on your show. I’m so happy to be here today with all of you. My name is John King. I’ve lived in Jefferson County quite a few years now. I retired from the federal government after 32 years with the US Capital Police, where I was a police officer, Special Agent, Supervisor, manager, Did a gamut of things. My last position was a Canine unit with 55 handlers; with a 14.3 million budget. I really want to give back to Jefferson County. The reason I got involved in running for office; when I retired two years ago, I had really intend to go back to work, and Mr. Jack Hewitt and a few people up in the community got together and convinced me to run for office, I told him I would do it, but the condition was I wasn’t going to take a salary from Jefferson County. Public Service to me is about public service, and I’d be honored to serve the people of Jefferson County to the fullest of my abilities.

Richard: From your viewpoint, what do you think are the three or three or so top priorities for the Sheriff here in Jefferson County?

John King: Well, that’s a little bit of a loaded question. I really need to get in there and do a needs assessment and look at the totality of the environment of the entire Sheriff’s Office because, we have the Tax Office, and we have the bailiffs, and we have, of course, the law enforcement, Sheriff’s department, and we have animal control. There are things that will cost money, and are there things that will not cost funding. We really need to go through and look at everything operationally, administratively, and then prioritize things in order to come up with a plan to meet our goals over the next, short-term goals, maybe six months to a year out and long-term, three to four years out. That’s kind of where we are. I really couldn’t give you… I have a couple of ideas of things I know that I think should be done right away, but I really need to get in there and really dig in to make sure I’m doing the right thing for the Sheriff’s office and for the people of Jefferson County.

Richard: A lot of the news is involving, of course, the whole COVID-19 and then the whole different mandates, like The Governor seems to like to make a lot of mandates, like mask mandates and business closures and these kind of things. So, my question as far as how that would pertain to the Sheriff; say there was some kind of orders from the Governor; would you enforce things that would cause business owners to be arrested for not following mandates. In fact, there was a case just brought, I know in Hurricane about some place that allowed their employees not to wear masks. And the Health Department said, No, no. And they were going to shut it down. Would you enforce such kind of regulations?

John King: Well, if you’re talking about the health department, that’s a completely different issue than the Sheriff’s office. The Health Department goes in, for example, if they’re expecting a restaurant or they’re doing their normal inspections, they find a violation, they usually notify, you have so many days to fix or we have to fix it immediately, and they close you down, the only thing the Sheriff’s office is designed to do is to go in and say, ‘No, the business has to be closed’. I know there’s been a lot of questions about the masks. Well, the masks, in a business situation, just like Walmart, any of the stores; the business owners, ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’. The same thing applies to a mask. So if the requirement is you have to wear a mask in the store, and if they don’t wear the mask in the store; the owner asks you to leave; if you don’t leave, then they can call the Sheriff’s Office, they can charge you with trespassing. The Sheriff’s office cannot enforce laws that aren’t legislated and put onto the books and actually in the code.

Richard: What about this situation. In the Spring I noticed that Moulton Park was closed and there were signs up. They even removed the picnic tables; I guess people could have criminal activity by sitting at the picnic table. But anyway, point being, people were still congregating in the park and nobody was bothering them, but theoretically could the Sheriff say, ‘Hey, you know, you can’t congregate here’, or even theoretically arrest those people?

John King: No, you can’t go around and arrest people for things that aren’t on the laws and in the books. You can’t do it. You’ll get sued. I’ve been sued in my career. I was not even in the United States twice when I got sued. So, being a manager and being the Sheriff, you take on all that liability, but you can enforce codes; you can provide recommendations. Basically, people need to be respectful of others, and if people are not comfortable being around you without a mask, then you need to try and go along and be a good citizen with folks. I think the businesses are doing a great job here in Charles Town and Jefferson County, by having people wear masks in the business. I think it’s a good precaution, especially inside.

Richard: One issue that’s relevant here in Shannondale, we’re concerned about the fact that here in Shannondale and vicinity we have over 4000 plus people down Mission Road, and there’s only one northern exit. There’s no way to exit any other way, which causes a possible hazard if there’s an emergency. So, question is, would you support having a southern exit for Shannondale and vicinity to the south?

John King: I think it’s a great idea. I don’t think it’s really the Sheriff’s privy to decide the roads, but I would support anything that would open up the second entrance in there. I think it’s a good idea for the residents, also can provide more fire apparatus and support. One of the things I’d like to see happen up in Shannondale, I’d like to see that substation, that’s up on the mountain be occupied by two deputies Open that back up; put two deputies in there, let them live there for free, and make them the deputies of the mountain, to build a community relationship with the people in Shannondale. I would come up to the mountain at least once or twice a month in the evening, 6,70 o’clock after people get home from work and listen to their concerns…

Richard: What about the opioid and drug crisis in Jefferson County. Is there anything you can say about how you would you handle things, what could or should be done?

John King: Oh, certainly, the drug problem working in DC all the years, I saw the gamut of drug problems and illegal drugs. The end user, unfortunately, is the victim in the equation usually, and what we need to do is use some technology too to help us. In the city, we used a system with cameras and tag readers, so you stage those in critical places in the county, and I don’t want to go too far into the weeds with this, but you’re able to track people through a database back all the way to Baltimore and to other jurisdictions. You start combining technology and where these vehicles are going and who’s operating them. You start setting up association matrixes. That’s the enforcement side of it. The next phase is the treatment, you have things like the daily report and you have, for the Court, to try and get people back into, being their own standalone person in society and getting back, not on their feet, I guess, I’d probably say more independent. One thing most people don’t understand about drug addicts, especially with opioids and the fentanyl, when they get on to these drugs, people think you can weave them off and kind of like you’re doing with alcohol, but what you find is the people generally relapse after six months. Some people will just have to take these drugs the rest of their lives to be able to get back to function normally, not overdose. And not that they’re gonna keep taking that, there’s not really a lot of heroin here it’s mostly the fentanyl mixed with the opioids, but that’s a huge part, just to get those people treatment and get them, because people need that opportunity to come back. The third thing we have to do is to educate people. We’ve got to give them jobs and finding places and trades and things, so that they have a skill set to go out and work. A lot of the skills and people that we have to work, they’re just not there anymore, and we need some trades, need to get these people back and functioning and see progressive, that they’re doing well in society and that they’re self-sufficient.

Richard: I’ve been active in the non-profit sector in abstinence-centered HIV prevention, health education. And also part of our message is not to use drugs and alcohol. I guess there’s multiple aspects. The character aspect, I think, is a really big one. And another one, I guess, is that maybe the over-prescription of opioids.

John King: One of the big problems, too, is you’re seeing a lot more, since the pill factories have shut down in the state, you’re seeing a lot more of the methamphetamine, which is a real bad thing to get into the community. And there’s some technologies to use with drones and different things that can go in and you get the Feds to come in at no cost to the people of Jefferson County. And my thought would be to give them an office here in the city and let them go after some of these heavy duty drugs dealers, not to infringe on the citizens. We want to get them in there and do good enforcement that spreads across state lines to get these people back to the sources…..

Richard: How would you differentiate yourself from the other candidates? Why should the voters choose you instead of one of the other candidates, Republican, Democrat or Independent?

John King: My credentials stand on their own merits. I spent 32 years in the government. I’ve commanded over 100 people at a time. I understand budgeting, I understand the culture. I’ve all the experience in the world to run the Sheriff’s Office, I’m a level three incident commander for FEMA standards. The county needs someone who can make decisions, who has mad proven decisions for decades, and has the confidence of the rank and file not only from the sheriff’s office but from the tax office and the bailiffs, and from animal control. The sheriff’s office is 95% law enforcement, and I have the most experience and most skill sets and education in dealing with any aspect of law enforcement. I was a patrol officer. Like I said, a canine handler canine supervisor, bomb technician, special agent, investigator. I’ve done the gamut in law enforcement. My agency, I came from, had 1800 gun carriers, and we had a $430 million budget, like I said, which I control $14.3 million for canine. That was my last command.

Richard: How would you ensure deputies are properly trained in order to avoid some of the bad situations that get excessive news coverage?

John King: Training is training. Training is how to do a function. I want to educate people. So when I educate people, the purpose is to make them grow and learn about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. I want to bring CIT training here, crisis intervention training. We did it in our agency. A lot of people need empathy out there in the public and putting the bracelets on when someone is the last alternative. You look at the use of force policies. We need to make sure we’re documenting things, that we’re doing all the steps and giving confidence in the public for us and for them. You need to build the bridges, not build walls, and that’s another whole part of community policing that I support. It needs to be out there. We need to be out there in the public. We need to build relationships. And the training, the mental health training is key to dealing with people, it really is. I’ve seen so many people that really were mental duress and they just needed that help. And you need to have the ability to know where to go and get that help. And the Sheriff’s officers is tasked with all the mental hygiene hearings here in the county too. So that’s another whole function of the Sheriff’s office most people aren’t aware of.

Richard: You mean, if someone will be reported by their family or some people for commitment to a mental institution? Is that what you’re talking about?

John King: Yes, if they believe they’re a danger to themselves or others, they’ll have a hearing with an appointed judge to come in and medical people are involved, and they decide whether or not they’re going to be sent somewhere for treatment, and then they put it out in state wide to find out where they’re going to send them for the treatment. Martinsburg, I think has 16 beds. A lot of times, unfortunately, their tasked with taking them down to Huntington, and that’s a long trip down there to get him there and back. And that’s another thing that falls in the sheriff’s office. Just like conservatorships for people, that falls in the sheriff’s office. There’s a whole lot of things more than just the law enforcement aspect.

Richard: Do you know what part of the Sheriff’s office the tax office budget-wise is?

John King: I think it’s about $11 million a year. It’s probably about 15% to 18%. I don’t have my hands on an itemized budget. I wanted to get one, but I couldn’t get Pete to give me one. He didn’t have it ready yet for this year, I guess.

Richard: Anything you’d like to say to the voters in conclusion?

John King: Well, I really just like to tell them that I really look forward to serving the residents of Jefferson County. I love this county, I love the people here. I want to be the community outreach, I want to be the sheriff who’s approachable, that you all can come to with any problems, I’m not in any party. I’m not a Republican, I’m not a Democrat. My loyalty is to the people of Jefferson County. And like I said, I retired two years ago, I’m the0 most current law enforcement person who’s running for office. Some have very little, some have quite a bit. But, when I decided to run for office, it was, like I said, it was Mr. Jack Hewitt, a few people got together, and they thought I was the right guy for the safety and security of the county and the treasury in the county. And when I decided to do this, I said, I will not take a salary, like I said, I’m going to do this for the people, and we’re going to be fair and we’re going to be equitable across the board to everyone, and everyone’s going to get treated with humanity.

Richard: Thank you for joining us today. Everybody get out and vote on November 3rd.

Categories
West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with S. Marshall Wilson-Independent Candidate for Governor-West Virginia

Learn about S. Marshall Wilson’s stand for constitutional freedoms and other key points of his platform.
Note: S. Marshall Wilson is a write-in candidate.
Marshall Wilson’s website
Other candidates for Governor are:
Danny Lutz Jr-Mountain Party
Erika Kolenich-Libertarian
Ben Salango-Democrat
Jim Justice-Republican

Listen to the Podcast

Article-S. Marshall Wilson Interview Excerpts

Hey, Richard, it’s a real honor to be here. Thanks for making time for me and thanks for putting up with me trying to get here and get ready and get linked up and everything, and of course, I’d like to introduce my son Joe, this is Josiah, and we are actually at the Capital right now, we have just taken part in the protest against the governor’s completely unethical mandates on public school sports, and of course, the real issue here is that they’re not evenly applied. They’re not fairly applied, and then of course, none of the restrictions that we’re placing on public school students apply to the Greenbrier for some reason, and no one can explain to me why that is.

So Joe and I came to the Capital, we drove five hours to get here this morning, so we could be here for this protest, and I managed to get away from that just in time to get in the car and call you.

Richard: Okay, great. Well, thanks for being on today. Yeah, well, you mentioned about the COVID 19, we’re certainly going to talk about that. In general. Could you share the three most important points of your platform for governor as to why you’re running for governor? Absolutely. Thank you, sir. Of course, you know, I’m a sitting delegate from South Berkley County, and I have stood up for the Constitution, not only of this state, but of the United States, for the past four years as a delegate and before that for 20 years as an infantry officer in the army I’ve upheld and defended the Constitution. And frankly, that is my platform, is the Constitution, as you and I both know, all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So the first thing I want to do is restructure the executive branch of our state government to function according to the Constitution because as the chief of the executive branch, the governor. I have the authority to do that.

The next thing that I want to do is I want to establish, not just effective and focused government, focused on serving the people under the Constitution upholding their rights, but actually I want to teach the executive branch, customer service. I want to teach them that they’re here to serve you, and that it’s not enough to just tell you four times that you’ve done your paperwork wrong and then demand that you pay a fee to register all four times, but rather actually sit down with you and say, Well, Mr. Urban, we understand what you’re trying to accomplish here. We would like to help you with that. We’ll help you to succeed rather than just simply telling you, to teach it a little bit of customer service. And finally what I want to do is to teach this concept so firmly in the executive branch that no future governor or a candidate for governor for the next few generations will arrogate to himself the position of thinking that he’s in charge of the state. We don’t want any tyrannies here. We fought a war against the British over that, and I don’t see any reason we should establish a new tyranny here in West Virginia. And I want my kids to raise their kids in a free, just, prosperous and secure land, so I’m going to do everything that I can to establish that here, and then to establish it in such a way that the people of this state who are from whom the entire authority of the government is drawn, the people understand how critically important, it is to maintain that constitutional governance, and they will fight for it, they will elect people who will uphold it, and then they will hold those people accountable for generations to come.

That is my hope, that’s my intent. And given the opportunity, I think that I can actually accomplish those things.

Richard: Thank you for that.

So with the whole thing about the lock-downs and these different mandates, you just talked about the constitutional freedoms, how do you feel about that, will we need to restructure our laws to facilitate that, like I know Wisconsin, although now the governor made another decree over there, they expired the mandates after 60 days, do we need to look at our laws again?

S. Marshall Wilson: Absolutely, and I thank you for bringing that up. A couple of things here. First of all, the people need to need to enforce the mandate of following the Constitution on their government officials, on their elected employees. I’ve already mentioned that. That’s the most critical part, because the people actually have the power, the other thing is that the legislature as the direct representative of the people needs to do its job, and as you say, restructure things, rewrite legislation so that these things are straightened out. For instance, and I’m glad you brought this up, but for instance, one of the things is that the governor has been able to perform a certain way because he’s able to twist the verbiage in the emergency powers section of the state code. So that needs to be re-written so that it can never be misunderstood that same way again.

What I’m getting at is that basically the way that our code is written when it comes to emergency powers, once the governor declares an emergency, he’s effectively accountable to no one, unless the legislature calls themselves back into special session.

So my recommendation would be that there’d be a requirement in the law that within 30 days of the governor declaring an emergency, the legislature must come into special session. Something along those lines. And then also, there should be a definition, most laws, you have very specific definitions written at the beginning of the bill that defines all the terms in the bill. Nowhere in West Virginia code that I’ve found is the term emergency defined, however, in my work as an emergency planner for the National Guard for years, the definition that we used was imminent, critical… An emergency situation where you have an imminent… In other words, it’s coming. There’s no way, no two ways about an imminent destruction of key critical infrastructure, which is roads, bridges, buildings, things like that, or massive loss of human life, or massive destruction of private property such as people’s homes and things like that…..

Richard: Speaking of mandates, one thing I want to ask you about, what’s your take or opinion on the forced vaccination mandate for West Virginia, like No vaccination, No school? What would you do about that?

S. Marshall Wilson: The government has no business telling you what medicines to give your children. The government has no business interfering between you and your doctor. You and your doctor decide what’s best for you and what’s best for your kids, period.

Richard: So would you get rid of or suggest… I know the legislature would have to do that, removing all mandates?

S. Marshall Wilson: Thank you for brining that up. Thank you for recognizing that. Of course, the legislature has to involved, the governor doesn’t have the authority to make those changes, but as the Governor, I would absolutely support the removal of those mandates.

Richard: Okay, so you support the removal of the mandates. Would an interim step be having religious and conscientious exemptions or just remove the mandates altogether? Well, absolutely. Well, I would work removing the mandate altogether, but absolutely whatever steps we can make in that direction are an improvement, of course.

The government and has very limited powers, and has usurped a lot of authority that doesn’t belong to it, and as your governor, it will be a foundational principal, a guiding principle of everything that I do to devolve all of that authority back to where it belongs, namely to the people…..

Richard: How do you feel about school choice, choice in education?

S. Marshall Wilson: I mean, if you look at my record, I could say the same thing about health liberty, if you look at my record as a delegate, you’ll see that I absolutely supported it. When Senate Bill 451 was under consideration, I stood on the house floor for almost three hours and offered, I believe it was 15 or 16 different amendments, offering different levels and different types of school choice. So I went away from an unlimited number of charter schools, basically, anyone who wants to start one as long as they can meet the academic standards, they can have a charter school, all the way down to finally, Okay, we can only have five of them.

I also offered an amendment that would allow a home schooler to get a credit on taxes owed. So only if you actually owe taxes, but on taxes owed for approved expenditures for home schooling. So if you buy a curriculum and you use it for your kids in home schooling, you can be reimbursed for that through a tax credit on taxes owed. And the reason that’s acceptable to me is because the constitution of the state says the state must provide a free and efficient education for your kids. If you’re not using the state’s facilities and resources and you’re using your own, then fine, you get a tax rebate.

That was the only one that even came close to passing. And it was defeated 50 to 49.Because one delegate who would have voted for it wasn’t around, it would have been 50 to 50. It still would have been defeated. So I think I offered 15 different amendments over the course of three hours in support of school choice, or I like to call it an education liberty.

Richard: I think that’s important. A very important area. And speaking of education, so what’s your opinion about the Common Core standards? Could you talk about West Virginia, the standards we have or don’t have?

S. Marshall Wilson: I think the place that I would start with that is that we the people, the West Virginia get to decide what our standards are, and I think that we should decide those standards via people who are accountable to the people rather than the State Board of Education, which is apparently according to a court case that took place, a judge’s ruling a few years ago, the State Board of Education has been established as a fourth monolithic, unaccountable branch of government, which is completely unacceptable. It should be accountable to the people who pay the taxes that make it possible and whose children it serves. That would be the first thing. Secondly, I think that all education, the operation should be disseminated rather than centralized. I think that every school system should be accountable directly to the people in that county, and each school should be accountable to the people in that community, and that the curricula should be the decision of the local school system and the local schools, based on standards that are established by the state board of education with input from the legislature, with the people’s representatives, if that makes sense.

I’ve heard this state-wide, some parent will get mad and go see the administrator, and administrators will actually… And I’m just telling you what teachers have told me, will literally change students’ grades, or will order the teacher to change grades. That’s completely unacceptable. The student gets the grade they earned on. I’m going to tell you straight up, I earned some grades that I wish I hadn’t. But that taught me to do what I had to earn better grades. And that’s what needs to happen. The teachers need to run their classrooms. Now, I’m not saying that every teacher is a perfect angel or a wonderful person, some of them have issues, and those issues need to be dealt with. But that doesn’t mean that when we have students who have issues, that those issues don’t mean be dealt with.

I needed somebody to tell me, ‘Look, we’re here to learn. If you’re not here to learn, Go sit in the hallway’…..

Richard: What’s your opinion about so-called Red Flag laws and the Second Amendment rights?

I am a staunch supporter of Second Amendment rights, I have an A plus from the WVCDL. I am one of the primary reasons that the parking lot bill got passed through the House, the bill that says that if you go to work and you happen to have a gun in your car, as long as you leave the Gun, your car and you lock your car in the parking lot. There’s no issue.

I mean, that’s just common sense…..

So the progressives offer this idea of the government confiscating all property and then charging the people, the citizens, rent on their own property after they confiscated it.

Well, that idea didn’t fly, so what they did was they took another shot at it and instead called it property tax. You get to keep your property, you still have the title to, it unless you don’t pay the tax. Then we take your property away from you. So the property is confiscated if you don’t pay the tax. Well, sounds an awful lot to me like I’m actually renting my property from the government. In other words, they actually manage to confiscate our property by saying that they own it if we don’t pay rent, in other words, the property tax on it. So I believe that the property tax is one of the most unethical immoral things that’s ever been done to the people of the United States.

Alright, let’s talk about income tax.

First of all, income tax was not legal under the Constitution until the 16th Amendment allowed for the establishment of an income tax, and of course that was to pay for our wars overseas.

So the idea that you are going to charge someone in such a way as to punish them for producing more and earning more and creating more wealth is counter-productive in ways that it’s difficult to even explain. It’s a terrible idea. Frankly, in my estimation, if we were to do this thing right, there would be a flat consumption tax across the board. That’s it. Flat consumption tax.

Richard: You mean sales tax. Is that a consumption tax?

S. Marshall Wilson: Effectively, yes, a flat sales tax. The idea being that what you’re really paying for is the opportunity to engage in a free and secure market. So, the government, if it does its job, maintains the institutions that allow for a Free and Secure market and for the privilege of engaging you pay a few cents on the dollar in it. Other than that, I don’t believe there should be other taxes. There shouldn’t be property taxes, there shouldn’t be income tax. The other taxes as far as I’m concerned are completely unethical.

Richard: I notice most of the property tax, and then here in Jefferson County we have the so called excess levy, but most of it goes for the schools, so how would the schools be funded or wouldn’t they? Or a lot of it goes for schools.

S. Marshall Wilson: Now, if the people of a certain area determine that they want to tax themselves to maintain the schools, they have every right to do that. But really what it comes down to is this state government has a lot of money, the problem is it wants to spend the money on things that are none of its business. So if we can pare the government down and focus it on its constitutional duties, there will be plenty of money to maintain its constitutional duties.

Richard: So one thing I wanted to address, I know it comes up and I saw the video on your website; people might say, ‘Oh, well, you know Mr. Wilson’s running as independent. If I vote for him, that’s like voting for Ben Salango’. I don’t agree with that, but anyway. Say whatever you’d like about that.

S. Marshall Wilson: Absolutely, thank you. So, a couple of things here. First of all, the primary argument I hear is that I’m stealing votes from the Republicans.

Okay, well, a couple of things about that. First of all, it’s not just Republicans who are voting for me. I have the endorsement of the Constitution Party.

Alright, that’s one thing. A lot of libertarians have told me they’re voting for me, because they recognize that my constitutional stance is actually what allows the people to have their rights, allows the people to exercise their rights freely is a constitutional government.

And the Libertarians recognize that when I uphold and defend the Constitution that will allow them to live the way they want to live. A lot of patriotic Democrats in this state; where I grew up in South Louisiana, there were a lot of people who are Democrats, they were good people, they paid their taxes, they served in the military, they went to church, they took care of their kids, helped them with their school work, good people who were Patriots and are dumbfounded by what’s happening with their party today, especially on the national level.

A lot of those people are voting for me rather than the Democratic candidate, and a lot of people have contacted me across the state. And then a lot of Republicans who believe in the Constitution, who are dumbfounded that their party managed to choose Jim justice as the candidate, especially since his unconstitutional mandates, are voting for me, have stated their support.

So given all of that, I want to say that’s a false argument in the first place. It’s also false because the votes do not belong to the candidate, they don’t belong to the party, they belong to the individual voter.

If I earn a vote from a voter, I have not stolen it from anyone. That person has the right to vote for whoever they want. And finally, I’d like to say that if the Democrat does win, and Jim Justice does lose, who’s at fault here? Is it me for running, which is my right as a citizen, or is it the Republicans for putting forward such a terrible candidate? It’s obviously on them. It’s obviously on them. Had they put forward a better candidate I wouldn’t be here right now……

Richard: To conclude how you’re differentiating yourself from the other candidates and why should the voters of West Virginia vote for you?

S. Marshall Wilson: The primary thing is because I will uphold and defend the Constitution of West Virginia and of the United States no matter what it costs me. The reason is because I love my kids, I want them to live in a free, just, prosperous and secure land, and if I manage that, then you’ll reap the same benefits.

On top of that, I do not believe that the government owns you or has any authority over you, other than if you try to deprive someone else of their natural rights. That’s the only time the government should get involved. I will work hard to make our government effective, functional, efficient and humble. I want our government to be humble. I want the people who work in our government, in the departments of our government, to recognize that you the people are in charge. And that we’re here to serve you.

Richard: Do be advised, all the voters, that you can write in S. Marshall Wilson on the ballot. If you would, please put the S on there. S. Marshal Wilson.

Richard: Is that required or that won’t matter?

S. Marshall Wilson: According to the Secretary of State, they will look for anything that looks like my name and count that, but frankly, just to be sure, just to remove any doubt, let’s put in the S period, if you don’t mind. My website is www.marshallforwv.com.

Categories
West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with Danny Lutz Jr-Mountain Party Candidate for Governor-West Virginia

Learn about the platform and views of Danny Lutz Jr, the Mountain Party Candidate for Governor of West Virginia.
Danny Lutz Jr’s website
Other candidates for Governor are:
Marshall Wilson-Independent
Erika Kolenich-Libertarian
Ben Salango-Democrat
Jim Justice-Republican

Listen to the Podcast

Danny Lutz Article-Selected Excerpts from the Interview

Well, good morning, all. I’m Danny Lutz running for the governorship of West Virginia on the mountain party ticket. We’re an affiliate of the Green Party of the United States, and the question probably in most people’s minds, why run? Well, I’m going to steal a phrase from one of my dear friends who has since departed, his name is Carl Hess; he wrote this line for Barry Goldwater in 1964; “I want to offer a choice, not an echo.” I want to offer the people of West Virginia a plan that will enable them to enter the 21st century on a competitive basis. I’m not hearing that from any of the other candidates.

Richard: So what would you say are three of your main platform points that you would like to share?

Danny Lutz: My number one point is broadband. Until we have broadband accessible to everyone in West Virginia who wants it, we will not progress. I have been in touch with Intelsat and Space X, and they have assured me that six months from the date of an agreement, a contract, as they said, they could have a turnkey operation available to every West Virginian, every business, every church, every school, every organization that wants the broadband service, and I emphasize that adjective turnkey, they said it would be ready to operate within six months……

A second point, and it can be summed up in one word, water. Most people don’t think about it, but West Virginia is the birthplace of most of the rivers in the East, that is east of the Western Continental Divide.

We supply some of the water for ourselves, the District of Columbia and parts of 12 other states. That is a mandate to stewardship.

We have got to assure that the water that leaves West Virginia is as clean as when it came out of the earth, because water is life, and with that, I’ve also got a program that I would like to implement. It would be a pollution control credit system. Before anyone can discharge any contaminant into the air, the water or the soil, they have to get a credit for a certain amount of that. Now the state of West Virginia will create these credits under my program, and then they will be distributed to each household in West Virginia where there is a registered voter, and then it will be up to the entity desiring to discharge the pollution or contaminant to purchase these credits for the best deal they can make. The households could hold the credit, they could sell the credit. They could swap the credit for something that want. They could trade it. Whatever the best deal is they could make. My opinion is that each of these credits should be worth between $2500 and $4500 apiece. So if a household had only 10 credits. That could be as much as a $25,000 income boost. And seeing how 45% of the people of West Virginia, for whatever the reason, do not work, this would be an annual income supplement, not a guaranteed annual income, not a welfare program. This is pure capitalism. That is, the household have a good that the industrial users need and they make the best deal they can for it. You can’t get purer capitalism than that. And it will be something I think that the other states would implement. California is doing a modified version of this and Virginia is looking at a modified version, especially with regard to carbon dioxide.

In addition to firms like Rockwool, fracking companies would be required to purchase these credits before they could discharge or inject their waste water, sewage waste and other sources and contaminants……

Another point that I have that I want to develop involves the coal industry. West Virginia has coal, and we have it, not in the abundance that we used to have it, but we have, in addition to the coal, we have some of the largest recoverable deposits of rare earth elements in North America, and that’s the elements between Element number 57 and 71. And they are used in all kinds of high technological applications for, you name it. We can recover these, and some of them are worth as much as $70,000 a kilogram. They’re in the shales that are on top of the coal that’s being stripped off. They’re in the coal itself, and they’re in the shale deposits that are beneath the coal. And those tailings have been pushed into ravines, smoothed over and patched up. And called reclamation. The coal ash and the GOB piles, just are in waste piles. We have a fortune that we can recover……

Something else along this line, mechanization is coming in leaps and bounds, I was reading an article in yesterday’s, Washington Post, about, with the COVID 19 problem that a lot of firms are looking at robots to do the cleaning instead of people. They are saying some of the robot cleaners can do it a third as fast as a human person doing the cleaning. Well, if a company employs a machine to replace one or more people, why shouldn’t they contribute a portion of the savings that they’re going to realize to, A) Help to re-train these people to do something else, to assure that they can have medical and healthcare, B) To assure that they do not have to choose between whether to put food on the table for their families or to buy prescriptions to cure their ills. This is something that we’ve got to consider, because once again, going back to that figure… The last one I had, 45% of West Virginians do not work, whether it’s because they’re disabled, whether because they’re unemployed or because they’re on social security or retired, whatever…….

I would like to re-create an equivalent of what used to be the civil defense program, for West Virginia. Now, I don’t wanna go back to duck and cover drills and stuff like that, and having signs up on the highway is saying in the event of an enemy attack, this highway may be closed to all but military traffic, etcetera. I don’t wanna go back to that, but what I want to go to is to a civilian, a civil defense program that will inventory our resources so that we have stockpiles of food, stockpiles of potable water, and medical supplies for basic medical needs, and have them within 30 minutes of any West Virginian and have a program developed to deal as these pandemics arise, and I think there’s going to be more of them, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of COVID because it appears to have a fantastic replicating ability, and it could even mutate into something we haven’t anticipated yet, so I’d like to see that kind of a program developed whereby it wouldn’t be just say, stay your house and wear a mask. It would involve a health care program, that is a health services program that would enable people, to get the health service they need and to get the instructions for coping with such organisms as they need them and in a timely fashion. And a usable way…..

Richard: So on the point you mentioned about forcing people to do things… One issue I’m been working on is our forced vaccination system. As you know, West Virginia was one of only two states where they have the policy, no full vaccination, no school, no exceptions, except for extremely hard to get medical exemptions, which are only about 100 granted per year, if that. Point being, a few other states have now adopted that, as you know, like New York state and California, unfortunately, but is that a good policy? Shouldn’t people have freedom to choose before they’re forced to inject dangerous substances? What’s your take on that?

Danny Lutz: Well, I’m torn, I’d like to share with you an anecdote, if you will, from my own experience. In 1955, the Salk vaccine for polio came out. And two years later, in the Jefferson County school system, they had a program where they brought all the students into what was then the county building on the corner of Congress and George streets, and they got a polio vaccination, I think it was a three shot type. My mother had heard about what turned out to be a bad batch of the Salk vaccine, which had caused polio, so she wouldn’t let my sister and I take the Salk vaccine. I don’t know whether that saved me from getting polio or not. It probably wasn’t an issue because none of the students with whom I was in school, came down with polio. And then, seven years later, when the Sabin live vaccine came, they called it the serum on sugar, we did take that because that had been tested and was proven. Where, for instance, it’s a disease like small pox, has pretty well been eradicated from the Earth, because of vaccination.

Richard: Well, there’s some debate about that, meaning not that it doesn’t have any effect, but that most diseases, even small pox, some places use quarantine, like Leicester, if I pronounce it correctly, England, and they were successful using other methods, and that many diseases like diphtheria, the instance, and even measles the instances of disease had gone down more than 90% before the vaccine was introduced. So it’s not an A then B thing, it’s like because of improvements of sanitation, like no more horse manure in the streets and things like that, even before vaccines were introduced a lot of diseases had decreased.  So, to just say, oh, it’s because of the vaccine is overly simple…..

Richard: Well, would you, in a nutshell, allow people to have exemptions for religious or conscientious reasons.  That would be a simple thing.

Danny Lutz: I would allow the consideration of contentious religious objection to vaccines.  But once again, I would also like to keep track of the people who, and of course, the health department would have these records, keep track of the people who have made such and received such an exemption, so that if a disease should break out among these people or a community where these people reside, that we could get the handle on it……

Richard: As governor, would you promote having time limits on these kind of mandates, or you think that the way it is now is fine?

Danny Lutz: As governor, because as governor, I realize I know enough about this to get into trouble, I would be surrounding myself with the best expertise I could, and if they said it’s time to cut… To cut it out, then we would cut it out, if they say, Hey, you’re gonna have to continue this in another six months, then that’s what I would do, and it’s the same way with education, I know enough about education and education theory to get into trouble.  So I would be relying upon the people who have made a lifetime study of education, tell me what the best thing to do is.  There are certain things that I can do fairly well, but a lot of things I’ve got to rely upon good information and heaven help the person who gives me bad information…..

Richard: I noticed that the Mountain party, when you’re talking about the family, but like I noticed they’re saying they are for the LGBTQ equality and these kind of things. So are you okay with that?

Danny Lutz: You probably won’t be able to put this on the air this way, but the way most of us in a Mountain party feel what two consenting adults do inside their own four walls, between their eyebrows and their knee caps is strictly between them. Don’t take it outside and ram it down somebody else’s throat. And don’t inculcate it in the children unless it’s their lifestyle, they’re eligible, they’re old enough to understand and eligible and able to choose. It’s an individual liberty thing there, as far as we are concerned, between the eyebrows and the knee caps and inside four walls… We’re not going to dictate that.

Richard: In some sense I agree with that. Those kind of thing. But those things also affect society profoundly in the sense that as we know, there are states where the examples where people are fined because they have a problem with baking a cake or doing photography for a same sex wedding. So there are those areas where it gets out into society and then where the state can, and in some states does force people and say, “Oh no, no, you don’t like to serve that clientele. Sorry, you must” So you get into that area, you know what I mean?

Danny Lutz: I see where you’re coming from. And if I could play dictator, we might have fewer lawyers litigating such cases, because if I walk into, and I am heterosexual, I might add. But if I was homosexual and I walk in to a bakery and order a wedding cake and tell them that I want two male figures on top of it; let’s say I can’t do that. I’d just walk out the door. It’s not worth the fight. It’s not worth taking up public resources to litigate something like that. It is not worth the aggravation and the heartache that it’s going to cause a number of people in a particular incident. What’s wrong with simply walking away from what you don’t like unless it’s going to physically harm you? And I’m taking that position with a lot of things. That’s why I’m hard on pollution, but soft on individual liberties. Let people live their lives as they want to, but don’t put smoke down their throat.