The Dominion Post Editorial Board (PEIA) met with four of 12 candidates for the House of Delegates 51st District on Monday, to hear their views on various issues.
The four were: incumbent Republican Cindy Frich, incumbent Democrats Rodney Pyles and John Williams, and American Freedom Union challenger Harry Bertram. The remaining candidates are set to come before the board at other meetings.
Cindy Frich is seeking her sixth term. “I’ve always wanted to make West Virginia a place where our children can receive a good education and have opportunities available to them to remain in the state, provide for their families and retire in a healthy, safe community,” she said.
Last session she voted for a cigarette tax hike but otherwise hasn’t voted for any tax hikes that have passed and taken effect, she said. She seeks a balance to regulation to protect people but not interfere with business. She aims to address the opioid crisis through her committee posts on Finance, Health and Substance Abuse.
Pyles is seeking his second term. He brings to the job, he said, his long tenure as Monongalia County Assessor and prior and current posts including state director of Archives and History, assistant curator of the WVU Library and Morgantown’s Historic Landmarks Commission.
Rodney Pyles would support legislation to protect sexual orientation and gender identity under the Human Rights Act and passage of family protection act making it illegal for employers to discriminate based on family responsibilities. He would also support a tuition loan forgiveness program for people who major in certain fields and stay in state for three years, and expanding PROMISE to cover the full cost for student in certain fields.
Williams is also seeking his second term. He’s worked on roads bills, including one co-sponsored with Delegate Joe Statler, R-Monongalia, to change the formula on how the Division of Highways allocates money, to one based on road miles and vehicle traffic.
“I do believe that government can provide solutions to difficult problems to help people who need it,” he said. He co-sponsored the Shared Tables bill to allow schools to distribute excess food to students. “I think that investing in public education is a silver bullet to a variety of our problems in West Virginia.”
He believes in “less government, less taxes, less regulation, pretty much like Mr. Trump does on a local scale. … I’m a working class person. I want to stand up for the small businessman, the taxpayer, working class people who would want a strong voice in the state Legislature” on those issues.
Each listed three top priorities.
Bertram would like to learn more about the DMV fee hikes used to help fund the Roads to Prosperity program are being used. “It seems like we’re still not getting enough stuff done.” The DOH needs to hire more people and pay them more.
Harry Bertram opposes a move by railroad companies to reduce train crews to one person, he said, “They’re depending on technology to stop that train,” with no backup for emergencies. “It’s a job issue, it’s a safety issue, it’s just not good for anybody.”
He also supports Second Amendment rights, he said.
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