W.Va. House 18 candidate: Kelli Sobonya (R)
HOME CITY: Barboursville
HOME COUNTY: Cabell
E-MAIL ADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
WEBSITE : www.vote4kelli.com; twitter: @Sobonya4WVHouse
PERSONAL STATEMENT: My husband and I raised our family in Barboursville deeply rooted in West Virginia's values. I'm a strong defender of the Constitution. I support tax, legal, and regulatory reform to increase job opportunities; strong families through addiction recovery; fairness in our family court system; our 2nd amendment rights; an educational system where rights & responsibilities reside with the family; reduced bloated bureaucracy in education; keeping promises made to retirees; & state's rights to limit federal government control of our lives. As your Delegate, I've worked hard to earn your trust & if re-elected, I will work hard to keep it!
EDUCATION: Institute of Computer Management (Pittsburgh, PA); Real Estate Development Center.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Member - House of Delegates 2003-Present; Realtor – Licensed for 16 years (Century 21 Homes & Land, Inc.).
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Marshall University School of Medicine (Chairman's Office - Dept. of Family & Community Health); Owner - Gym Factory (Barboursville).
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: West Virginia Civil Air Patrol; Barboursville Rotary Club; Beta Sigma Phi; National Rifle Association; WV Citizens Defense League; Cabell County Farm Bureau; Indian Rock Garden Club; National Association of Realtors; Member - Board of Directors & Legislative Committee of the West Virginia Association of Realtors; Harley Owners Group; Chair, Public Affairs Committee, Barboursville Women’s Club; West Virginia Federation of Republican Women; Huntington-Cabell Republican Women; Past Chairperson and Legislative Committee Member, Huntington Board of Realtors; WV Habitat for Humanity Legislative Service .
FAMILY: Married to Ed Sobonya for 32 years; daughter, Abby; son and daughter-in-law, Andrew and Tiffany; grandchildren, Isaiah and Brayden.
1. Are you satisfied that the Legislature has done enough to protect West Virginians from chemical spills? Please explain.
Agency regulators should be more pro-active & preventative. The recent chemical spill revealed necessary safeguards to help identify what is being stored near our water supply & how to better protect it. I serve on two of the three legislative committees that drafted the recent legislation. We will monitor this new legislation & hold those accountable if not followed.
2. What steps would you recommend to improve West Virginia's economy?
While legislative leadership studies a proposed increase on personal income tax & continues to look inside the pockets of our over-burdened taxpayers, I advocate a new birth of freedom for West Virginia's families through bold, common sense solutions to re-energize our economy. I support comprehensive tax & legal reforms to grow our tax base instead of growing tax rates.
3. Do you think more needs to be done to ensure high school graduates are competent? Explain.
Yes. Students who aren't on track for college and career readiness by 8th grade are unlikely to attain that level of readiness by high school graduation according to a new ACT, Inc. research report, “The Forgotten Middle.” Student competency begins with early education. If elementary students can't read and comprehend math at grade level , they'll lack competency at graduation.
4. How do you propose keeping more students in school and reducing the truancy rate?
Cookie cutter approaches haven't worked. I supported the passage of “innovative school zones” which allows decisions be made at the local level instead by state bureaucrats. Our Barboursville Rotary Club teaches “Choices” to local middle school students (www.choices.org) the importance of how their decisions made today impact their lives tomorrow & could serve as a model for all WV students.
5. What can the state government do to improve educational achievement in West Virginia?
Our state funds education more than most states, yet WV students are 49th in student achievement. The $800,000 education audit revealed too much power at the state level. I've introduced legislation to make State School Board members elected instead of appointed. Our current system is broken. Increased accountability to students, teachers, and parents would greatly improve our education system.
6. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?
The Legislature's separation of our community & technical colleges from their four-year components will help existing & emerging industries with targeted job training. It is also challenging for WV employers to be able to hire a drug free work force. State & community involvement in drug prevention, early intervention, & access to treatment will help put West Virginians to work.
7. What more should the state do to battle the prescription drug crisis?
I've supported bills to establish a prescription drug monitoring program & help put pill mills out of business. Need to limit amount of pain killers prescribed in emergency rooms for those without an established primary care provider. I opposed giving casinos $100 million to purchase new slot machines & prefer to dedicate this revenue for increased drug prevention & treatment.
8. Are there more steps the state should take to reduce obesity?
Lack of physical activity & poor nutrition choices contributes to obesity & should start in the home. Where government can make a difference, it should: Expansion of FFA & “Farm to Schools,” restrict unhealthy food choices for food assistance programs, increased access to biking/walking paths. Replicate efforts like “Create Huntington” which has been instrumental in promoting the local farm/food movement.
9. How could the state help small businesses grow in West Virginia?
The “Launch Pad” legislation I supported will help attract new businesses to WV. As a former business owner, I know the challenges of operating a WV business. In order to invest in WV, businesses need to know that rules and regulations won't keep changing at the whim of a legislature & that we have a fair tax & legal climate.
10. Do you think the state should do more to reduce the size of the prison population?
Most incarcerations stem from drug addiction. Need to get to the root of the problem instead of addressing symptoms—increased access to long-term drug treatment; increased penalties for drug traffickers/dealers. We recently passed pre-trial diversion legislation that will help reduce the burden on county and state taxpayers for housing certain non-violent offenders awaiting trial. Also, a thriving economy reduces drug dependency.
11. What measures do you support that would improve the lives of West Virginians, especially children, who are living in poverty?
West Virginia ranks as the lowest work force participation rate in the nation & high in poverty. People's lives improve with a strong work ethic inspired by a thriving jobs climate. One political party has controlled the legislative agenda since 1928! Our Republican caucus has introduced pro-jobs bills for decades. A pro-jobs agenda is in the hands of the voters.
12. What measures do you support on fracking/horizontal drilling that would protect people living near drilling sites?
Horizontal drilling will help make us more energy independent, create thousands of jobs, and provide our economy with billions of dollars in revenue. As a member of Judiciary, Minority Chair of Industry & Labor, & Legislative Rule Making & Review committees, we've implemented rules & regulations to monitor water collection from our streams, noise, light, air emissions, well spacing, etc.
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.
No. States were too quick to adopt Common Core standards. I've attended Common Core forums all over WV & met with national education expert, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, a Common Core Validation Committee member who ultimately opposed it. I have concerns with the standards, assessments/testing, curriculum, and student data mining/sharing without parental consent. I support local control. For more info: www.wvagainstcommoncore.wvconstitutionaladvocates.com
14. What needs to be done now to diversify the economy of West Virginia?
States with policies conducive to doing business have diversified economies. People are more comfortable investing their capital in new/emerging businesses when they feel welcomed by state laws that give them predictability and fairness with taxation & regulation. As a member of the Legislative Rule Making & Review Committee, I am concerned with our over-burdensome regulatory environment in some areas.
15. What solutions would you offer to deal with drug abuse problems in West Virginia?
We need holistic approach--addressing the supply AND demand side of our drug crisis. I support drug courts & increased access to treatment/recovery programs. I've sponsored a bill creating a uniform criminal data base to allow policymakers/public to better identify repeat offenders & track recidivism & have drafted a bill to greatly increase penalties for high volume drug traffickers.
16. How would you address the problems of barriers to employment and other services experienced by those in successful long-term recovery from addictions?
The recent Justice Reinvestment bill includes provisions for the state to give rehabilitated offenders assistance to help make them more employable. The Legislature could consider tax credits for participating businesses who give recovering addicts, who remain drug-free, a job. A national organization, "Americans in Recovery," hosts a free hiring website encouraging businesses to hire those deserving a second chance.
17. Do you support West Virginia asking the USDA to allow the state to say SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase non-nutritive softendrinks? Please explain why or why not.
SNAP recipients spend $2 billion of taxpayer money a year on sugary drinks and SNAP accounts for 10% of all grocery store spending. I'm a liberty-minded legislator, however I believe SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) should reflect its mission-nutrition, and would be open to this discussion. There needs to be increased accountability and personal responsibility for all taxpayer-funded programs.
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?
NO to stand-alone tax increases. YES to comprehensive tax reform to revamp our entire tax structure which might include revenue-neutral increase. Our citizens are the poorest in the nation. As long government takes more money out of the pockets of West Virginians, they'll continue to kick the can down the road failing to discuss & pass comprehensive tax reform.
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