By Demian Nunez
March 4, 2016
(THE PICKET) West Virginian Democrats running for state offices and Congress came to Shepherdstown March 3 to meet voters and tout their qualifications.
Noting that young people are leaving the state for job opportunities elsewhere, Booth Goodwin, a candidate for governor, said he wants a state that will keep its young.
“I fear that if we don’t do something substantial or something bold now, then they are not going to be able to stay, or perhaps more significantly, they won’t want to stay, in West Virginia,” said Goodwin.
The atmosphere was casual but energetic as dozens of people crowded Domestic on German Street to mingle with West Virginia’s Democratic candidates and talk about the future of the state.
Also there were Natalie Tennant, running for reelection as secretary of state, Jason Pizatella, running for state auditor, and Cory Simpson, running for West Virginia’s second congressional district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The candidates spent most of the night among the crowd, rubbing shoulders with citizens as people shared jokes and drinks at the dimly lit venue.
The night concluded with Goodwin, Tennant, Pizatella, and Simpson standing before the crowd to ask for support in their campaigns and reach out to prospective voters.
Goodwin framed his short speech around his children, Joe and Sam, and how he wants to make sure West Virginia is a place they would want to stay and build their lives.
Tennant used her time to thank everyone for making her secretary of state and reminded the audience of the promises she made and how her office has lived up to them. Chief among the achievements she touted was the expediency with which West Virginian’s can now register new businesses and the ease of new online voter registration and absentee voting for deployed military.
“Every voter who is eligible to vote, needs to have that opportunity to get registered, and be able to vote,” Tennant said.
Simpson, a veteran who served in the army for 12 years, was unique among the candidates present, as he was the only one running for national office, challenging incumbent Alex Mooney for Congress.
Simpson arrived much earlier than the other candidates, and had the chance to discuss how he planned on balancing the needs of his diverse district and faithfully represent his constituency when in Congress.
“I would represent the whole district and what we need is essentially similar, [across all regions] we need the economy to grow, better infrastructure, roads, and better education and healthcare….. I think those interests are going to be the same from the Shenandoah all the way to Ohio,” he said.
Simpson went on to elaborate on his position on education.
“We’ve been fighting too long on the philosophies of education instead of just giving the resources to education that they need to succeed…….we get too involved with what teachers need to be doing in the classrooms, and we need to back away from that. We need to give them the resources they need to teach, we need to make salaries as competitive here as they are in surrounding states,”
Simpson also said that he would never place his party before West Virginia’s citizens.
“The problem, I believe, with our politics today is placing party in front of the needs of the people who sent you to Congress and the needs of the nation. I want to reverse that,”
Running for state auditor, Pizatella understood that many in the audience might not even be familiar with the duties of the office, but explained its significance and his rationale for running.
“In my most recent roll as secretary of administration we had a lot of big projects we’ve worked on to try and make our taxpayer dollars, that are getting more and more scarce, and make sure those dollars are spent wisely. I want to translate my experience as deputy chief of staff and secretary of administration under Tomblin, to State Auditor,” he said.
Pizatella also noted that in his experiences traveling the state he learned West Virginians are proud of how different they are from Washington and he wants to preserve that.
“One thing that I’ve learned travelling in every county to every courthouse with Joe Manchin and Earl Ray Tomblin, is that people take pride in the fact that West Virginia is not like Washington…. I’m afraid, looking at Charleston, that it is becoming more like Washington. I want to run as a team in 2016 so that we can make West Virginia the unique place it is where people will look at Charleston, will look at Shepherdstown, and Morgantown, and say ‘that is the place I want to be.’”