W.Va. House 16 candidate: Lauren E. Plymale (D)
HOME CITY: Lesage
HOME COUNTY: Cabell
E-MAIL ADDRESS: email@example.com
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I grew up in Wayne County and attended and graduated from Wayne County schools. I then went to Marshall University and West Virginia University College of Law. I have been an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Cabell County for seven years. I have seen first-hand the devastation that substance abuse takes on entire families. It is essential that we approach this epidemic on two fronts. First, we need to strengthen the penalties for people dealing drugs. Secondly provide long term lock down residential treatment for abusers. Early intervention and education for children about the danger of drugs is critical.
EDUCATION: High School Diploma from Spring Valley High School; Bachelors of Business from Marshall University; Doctor of Jurisprudence from West Virginia College of Law.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Cabell County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, over 7 years.
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Adjunct Faculty at Mountwest Community and Technical College, teaching Law and IT Classes since Fall 2013.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Cabell County Democratic Executive Committee Parliamentarian; Boys and Girls Club of Huntington Board of Directors, Programs Committee Chairperson; Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #122 Member and Counsel; Marshall University Alpha Xi Delta Sorority Alumnae Advisor; Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Cabell County Counsel; Cabell and Wayne County High School Soccer Referee.
FAMILY: Terry McFann, II, husband; stepsons, Logan McFann and William McFann; Chase Robert, born in May 2014.
1. Are you satisfied that the Legislature has done enough to protect West Virginians from chemical spills? Please explain.
The Legislation passed this year addressed above ground storage tanks, specifically near bodies of water sources for public consumption. In addition, it also requires that all public water utilities in the state rely on surface water complete a source water protection plan. The key however is to enforce the legislation in a prudent manner and public engagement is important.
2. What steps would you recommend to improve West Virginia’s economy?
The economy suffers when there is not a trained workforce. Educating students in high schools about specific job training programs and equipping them with 21st century skill sets is key. The lack of available land for development is a critical issue. Creating economic development and industrial sites must be a priority.
3. Do you think more needs to be done to ensure high school graduates are competent? Explain.
Meeting the newly established standards for high school graduates is the first step. Connecting middle schools, vocational schools and high schools to two and four year institutions helps establish and strengthen these pipelines.
4. How do you propose keeping more students in school and reducing the truancy rate?
Early intervention in elementary schools and continuation through middle schools by school personnel and the court system is key. The continued involvement of the judicial system is central to the success.
5. What can the state government do to improve educational achievement in West Virginia?
Decisions regarding such things as hiring and calendar selection, should continue to be made on the local level. Content area certified teachers in the classroom are vital in improving student achievement.
6. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?
Connecting student education about careers should begin in middle schools. Curriculum development that steers students toward the skills relevant to jobs in the work place is an important pipeline program.
7. What more should the state do to battle the prescription drug crisis?
This is a multi-pronged problem. Physicians must continue to monitor patients to ensure appropriate use of medications. States need to work together to create online databases to share information. Penalties for dealers need to be strengthened and enforced with mandatory minimum sentences.
8. Are there more steps the state should take to reduce obesity?
Early education for families and children regarding healthy and nutritious meals are important. Ensuring that meals at schools are healthy will help to enforce better eating habits. Physical education should be an important part of the school curriculum. Opportunities for families and students to exercise and prepare meals together would be beneficial.
9. How could the state help small businesses grow in West Virginia?
The state should continue to evaluate the tax structure such as business franchise and other taxes that affect small business growth. There is a committee touring the state and looking at issues affecting small business. Upon completion of their work, a review should be conducted of their findings.
10. Do you think the state should do more to reduce the size of the prison population?
A Long term lockdown residential treatment facility for drug abusers, with oversight by the Department of Corrections, would remove a significant number from the prisons and help reduce the recidivism rate.
11. What measures do you support that would improve the lives of West Virginians, especially children, who are living in poverty?
It is essential that we identify and continue to support universal preschool, paid maternity and paternity leaves, increase in the minimum wage and education program K-12. In addition, families living in poverty need additional support such as parenting classes and better primary care for them and their children.
12. What measures do you support on fracking/horizontal drilling that would protect people living near drilling sites?
It is essential that we work to ensure the protection of water in the fracking process. It is also crucial that there is ongoing enforcement of the newly established laws in the last few years that protects the environment and citizens. Maintaining and improving the infrastructure surrounding these areas is a responsibility of the business conducting the fracking.
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 high standards that are benchmarked to international standards (PISA & TIMMS) and this is what the West Virginia State Board of Education adopted in May 2010 for Math and English. However, the legislature has the purview to review these standards at any time to guarantee that we are providing our West Virginia students with the best educational standards.
14. What needs to be done now to diversify the economy of West Virginia?
An educated workforce is still the key and establishing the college and career readiness standards was a first step. We must support our educational institutions monetarily to develop and articulate career pathways from middle school to the workplace or college. Our economic development efforts must include aligning our education training to new economy high skilled jobs.
15. What solutions would you offer to deal with drug abuse problems in West Virginia?
I believe we need to have an alternative of a lockdown inpatient rehab that is run by the department of corrections so that we can attempt to rehabilitate the violent offenders so that upon their return to society they have the option of sober living. This drug problem is a never ending cycle that requires a proactive and communal approach.
16. How would you address the problems of barriers to employment and other services experienced by those in successful long-term recovery from addictions?
Employer education regarding skills that the workers can bring to the workplace would be helpful in those obtaining employment. Services and support groups specific to the needs of those suffering from addictions and long term recovery are essential to their ongoing recovery. Programs should be accessible to ensure employees have the support needed.
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.
SNAP benefits should go towards the purchase of heathy foods. WV continues to face the highest obesity rankings in the country. Soft drinks add unnecessary sugar and calories. Education for families through the SNAP program should be provided. It is essential that we work to identify healthy nutritional guidelines for families to follow.
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?
I do not believe that raising tobacco taxes will decrease smoking by women that are pregnant. Ongoing prenatal education to mothers regarding the risks of continued smoking while pregnant is needed. I do however feel that increasing the state tobacco tax to the national average is appropriate. Any revenue raised on tax increases should go towards proven prevention and educational programs.
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