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W.Va. State Senate 5 candidate: Mike Woelfel (D)

Sep. 20, 2014 @ 09:09 AM

PARTY: Democrat

HOME CITY: Huntington

HOME COUNTY: Cabell County

E-MAIL ADDRESS: mikewoelfel3@gmail.com

WEBSITE:woelfelforsenate.com

PERSONAL STATEMENT: I have never run for political office and believe I can bring a fresh perspective to the State Senate. Our theme is “Progress Not Politics.” I intend to listen to different views, attempt to build consensus, mediate differences, while maintaining my core values.

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

AGE: 60

EDUCATION: St. Joseph High School; B.A. Marshall University, History; Law Degree West Virginia University.

CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Woelfel & Woelfel Law Firm.

OTHER WORK HISTORY: Assistant Prosecuting Attorney-1978-80, Cabell County; Juvenile Court Referee- 1980-2010, West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Knights of Columbus, WV Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

FAMILY: wife, Julia Woelfel; sons, Matthew Woelfel and his wife Stacie Davis Woelfel, their children Colin and Carter, and Michael J. Woelfel and his daughter Mady.

QUESTIONS

1. Are you satisfied that the Legislature has done enough to protect West Virginians from chemical spills? Please explain.

Based on my review of the legislation passed this session, I conclude the specific problem has been addressed. However, DEP must abandon a culture within the agency which in effect has adopted a “laissez-faire” philosophy of inspection. The State must enforce the law with vigilance.

2. What steps would you recommend to improve West Virginia’s economy?

State government should reward those businesses which play by the rules. The State must adopt smarter and fewer regulations. The best thing government can do for businesses is to broadly and constantly strive to be more efficient. Regulations which protect our citizens, workers, and clean water sources must be consistently enforced by applicable State agencies.

3. Do you think more needs to be done to ensure high school graduates are competent? Explain.

The solution begins in the home. Nutrition, exercise, positive role models, good parenting and parental discipline produce good students. These students are better equipped to compete in the modern workplace.

4. How do you propose keeping more students in school and reducing the truancy rate?

Truancy is a major drain on our youth’s ability to compete in the private sector. Truancy begets a high drop-out rate which condemns truants to low lifetime earning capacity. Pre-K education is a major weapon to break this cycle. Effective grade school and middle school early intervention programs must be identified, funded and monitored to assure efficiency. Behavior modification is achievable with children ages 4-12.

5. What can the state government do to improve educational achievement in West Virginia?

Educational achievement is sporadic throughout West Virginia. The solution begins in the home. Nutrition, exercise, positive role models, good parenting and parental discipline produce good students. Better prepared students are well equipped to be trained to achieve at highly specialized jobs such as exist at the Toyota manufacturing plant, with Marcellus Shale extraction and as will exist in the petrochemical industry.

6. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?

Educational achievement is sporadic throughout West Virginia. The solution begins in the home. Nutrition, exercise, positive role models, good parenting and parental discipline produce good students. Better prepared students are well equipped to be trained to achieve at highly specialized jobs such as exist at the Toyota manufacturing plant, with Marcellus Shale extraction and as will exist in the petrochemical industry.

7. What more should the state do to battle the prescription drug crisis?

I chaired the committee which recommended hiring Chief Skip Holbrook. Pass legislation which creates effective drug education and prevention efforts. This will reduce demand. Strategically enforce drug laws by maximum sentences for violent offenders and upper level drug suppliers. This will reduce supply. Fund policy which uses treatment for addiction as a viable alternative to incarceration. This will reduce demand.

8. Are there more steps the state should take to reduce obesity?

Childhood obesity is a preventable disease. I was dismayed by the actions of the House Education Committee which killed SB 455. The Bill would have mandated 30 minutes of daily vigorous physical activity for all public school children. 27% of young Americans are too overweight to qualify for the military.

9. How could the state help small businesses grow in West Virginia?

State government should reward those businesses which play by the rules. The State must adopt smarter and fewer regulations. The best thing government can do for businesses is to broadly and constantly strive to be more efficient. Regulations which protect our citizens, workers, and clean water sources must be aggressively and consistently enforced by applicable State agencies.

10. Do you think the state should do more to reduce the size of the prison population?

I chaired the committee which recommended hiring Chief Skip Holbrook. Pass legislation which creates effective drug education and prevention efforts. This will reduce demand. Strategically enforce drug laws by maximum sentences for violent offenders and upper level drug suppliers. This will reduce supply. Fund policy which uses treatment for addiction as a viable alternative to incarceration. This will reduce demand.

11. What measures do you support that would improve the lives of West Virginians, especially children, who are living in poverty?

Poverty is the root cause for crime and addiction. Economic development is the most effective tool to combat it, closely followed by more efficiency in the education of our children.

12. What measures do you support on fracking/horizontal drilling that would protect people living near drilling sites?

Natural gas extraction represents a major boon to West Virginia’s economy through well-paying jobs and tax revenue. DEP must enforce existing regulations to assure clean water sources remain intact and water is safe for consumption.

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 standards in education. The focus of achievement should be evaluated on a state level not a national level. I would need much more data to consider supporting this.
 
14.  What needs to be done now to diversify the economy of West Virginia?

Existing employees and prospective employers tell me their greatest challenge is to identify drug free and well trained workers. Strong support for workforce development from the community college and vocational tech programs is essential. I favor modernizing infrastructure and a tax climate which us fair and equitable. Our tax structure needs a thorough review and modernized.

15.  What solutions would you offer to deal with drug abuse problems in West Virginia?

Mandatory, minimum and harsh sentences to prison for mid level, upper level dealers and violent criminals. West Virginia must make available treatment for addiction to our citizens who want treatment. Locking up addicts drains our treasury and recycles addicts. This approach has failed.

16.  How would you address the problems of barriers to employment and other services experienced by those in successful long-term recovery from addictions?

But for The Healing Place, virtually no effective in-patient treatment centers exist. Treatment options ought be multiplied to address our addiction epidemic. Addiction affects every citizen either as a crime victim or via a drug dependent family member. The legislature must stop meeting about this crisis and address it.


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.

Children should never consume sugary, non-nutritional soft drinks. The State ought never encourage nor fund their consumption by youth via SNAP benefits.


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?

Our smoking rate is among the highest in the nation. Educational efforts to deter teen smoking must be greatly expanded. I would support mandatory parenting classes for pregnant smokers.

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