W.Va. House 19 candidate: Ken Hicks (D)
HOME CITY: Kenova
HOME COUNTY: Wayne
E-MAIL ADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I believe that my experience and skills as an advocate for thousands of clients over the last twenty-six years will assist me in navigating the complex legal issues faced by our legislators. The residents of Wayne County deserve a strong voice in the legislature. I have practiced law in Cabell and Wayne County for the last 26 years and understand the duties of a legislator. My experience as an attorney will assist in a legislator’s job duties which include interpreting, creating and modifying new and existing laws. I promise to be responsible and accountable to the Wayne County residents. I promise to meet with my constituents, inquire as to what their interests and concerns are and to see that these concerns are addressed.
EDUCATION: Buffalo High School (Wayne County); Marshall University, Bachelor’s Degree; University of Toledo College of Law, Juris Doctor of Law.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: I presently have been working for the last 26 years as an attorney in a general law practice. Most of my clients are from Wayne and Cabell Counties. I have been a small business owner for the last 26 years and past president of the Cabell County Bar Association.
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Former attorney for the Wayne County Commission; former attorney and legal advisor for Berea Oil and gas Corporation and Peco Resources Corporation. I worked in real estate acquisition and development of oil, gas and coal properties. I also worked as a licensed real estate agent in the states of West Virginia and Ohio.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: I have served on the Cabell-Wayne Association of the Blind Board of Directors for the last 20 years; the Board of Directors for the Huntington City Mission. I have been a member of the First Baptist Church of Kenova for 15 years and currently serve as the Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee.
FAMILY: I have been married for over twenty-one years to Tonya Kiser Hicks (graduate of Buffalo High School Wayne County). We have three children, Kenny Hicks Jr.; Bethany Hatfield (Jason Hatfield) (both are school teachers in Wayne County) and Jared “Boo” Hicks, asst. football coach at Spring Valley High School and a student at Marshall University. We were also blessed with our first grandchild in 2013, Jase Hatfield.
1. Are you satisfied that the Legislature has done enough to protect West Virginians from chemical spills? Please explain.
Recent Legislation has set forth specific requirements applicable to chemical storage tanks in West Virginia. Given the large number of chemical companies producing by products and waste materials in West Virginia, West Virginia businesses must have a plan of action to respond to possible chemical leaks. They must also identify and implement safety measures to prevent further chemical spills.
2. What steps would you recommend to improve West Virginia’s economy?
It is important to provide opportunities to attract new businesses in the form of tax credits and other incentives to continue and maintain economic development. We need to develop our Natural Resources with new technology available. We must work on ways to reduce the state budget thereby reducing the taxes paid by West Virginia citizens and businesses.
3. Do you think more needs to be done to ensure high school graduates are competent? Explain.
Yes, those students who need help with the basic life skills need to be identified in middle school and provided with courses which will assist them in the development of basic knowledge and life skills necessary after high school graduation.
4. How do you propose keeping more students in school and reducing the truancy rate?
We must involve the entire family in the education process. In middle or early high school we need to identify and encourage students to pursue a curriculum oriented to their interests to keep their interest level high and attendance consistent. Technical and Vocational classes for non college bound students will assist to meet this objective.
5. What can the state government do to improve educational achievement in West Virginia?
West Virginia must make certain that its students are armed with appropriate learning tools, such as computers, multimedia aids, internet access, etc. in order to keep its students with the most up-to-date technology so that they can be competitive in both national and world markets, as well as preparing for college.
6. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?
An improved workforce starts with education. There should be more emphasis on teaching those skills necessary to prepare our younger people to enter college, vocational and technical programs to qualify them to enter the work force. State Government must provide economic incentives to employers who promote a more educated and trained workforce.
7. What more should the state do to battle the prescription drug crisis?
The state needs to coordinate a team approach with the physicians, pharmacies & law enforcement agencies to combat this problem. The treating physicians and pharmacies need to identify those patients and customers they suspect may be abusing drugs. Law Enforcement agencies need to increase their efforts to prosecute those individuals involved in prescription abuse.
8. Are there more steps the state should take to reduce obesity?
Yes, early education for parents and young children is essential. Public schools can assist in educating parents regarding the importance of healthy nutritious meals, eating habits and physical exercise. Encourage participation in sports activities (i.e.. baseball, basketball, football and soccer) at an early age.
9. How could the state help small businesses grow in West Virginia?
I have been a small business owner for 26 years in West Virginia. I believe that the State could provide additional tax incentives and job training (i.e. tax credits and other incentives) to attract small businesses to the state.
10. Do you think the state should do more to reduce the size of the prison population?
Yes, The creation of the “Drug Court” in Cabell & Wayne Counties has proven to be successful as an alternative to prison confinement. Many drug and non violent offenders are eligible for home confinement and other alternatives to prison incarceration. Many Circuit Court Judges have worked together with the probation officers to make the Drug Court a success.
11. What measures do you support that would improve the lives of West Virginians, especially children, who are living in poverty?
I support the current CHIPS program which provides health care for eligible West Virginia and Wayne County children. The West Virginia Meals Program has shown much success. The increase in the West Virginia minimum wage will provide an increase of income for our low income residents.
12. What measures do you support on fracking/horizontal drilling that would protect people living near drilling sites?
The current oil and gas drilling regulations are adequate for the protection of the residents of nearby drilling sites. These regulations should be strictly enforced. Oil and gas companies need to identify the location of nearby water wells, rivers and tributaries and attempt to avoid or protect them in the disposal of waste water and contaminants.
13. Do you support the West Virginia Department of Education’s Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives, West Virginia’s plan to implement Common Core? Explain.
I support Educational Standards which will enable all students to learn and excel. Our educators need flexibility to amend, alter and implement additional modalities and/or methodology to promote educational goals for all students attending classes in K-12.
14. What needs to be done now to diversify the economy of West Virginia?
The State of West Virginia needs to provide tax incentives for new and existing businesses to diversify. The development of natural gas uses are tremendous (Natural Gas use as a fuel for automobiles, trucks and many other uses) Agricultural jobs exist as West Virginians produce less than 10% of the food they consume.
15. What solutions would you offer to deal with drug abuse problems in West Virginia?
Drug abuse has reached epidemic levels. Our young people need to be educated early about the adverse effects of drug abuse. Our schools, churches and other agencies need to promote education and intervention in combating drug abuse. Our communities (families, educators, churches and law enforcement agencies) must make it a priority to join together and fight this problem head on.
16. How would you address the problems of barriers to employment and other services experienced by those in successful long-term recovery from addictions?
Provide businesses financial and other incentives to promote hiring those individuals who have successfully completed drug rehabilitation programs. The court system provides expungement opportunities to many people convicted of certain crimes who qualify.
17. Do you support West Virginia asking the USDA to allow the state to say SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase non-nutritive soft drinks? Please explain why or why not.
Yes, I would support the promotion of SNAP Benefits for nutritional type drinks. The health benefits are obvious with many of the sugar laden soft drinks causing and/or contributing to diabetes, obesity and other health problems related to sugar consumption.
18. West Virginia has the highest rate of smoking among pregnant women. We also have one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the country. Do you support increasing the West Virginia state tax on tobacco products to coincide with the national average?
Yes, the tobacco tax should coincide with the National average. I believe if the tobacco tax rate is increased, collected monies should be allocated toward education for all pregnant women and others of the potential dangers caused to them and their unborn children because of tobacco consumption.
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