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Maloney shares ideas at town hall meeting in Huntington

Aug. 24, 2012 @ 12:20 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Repeal legislation that strangles the coal mining companies. Foster a better climate for all businesses. Clean up voter fraud issues. Promote the natural beauty of the state and the outdoors to enhance wellness. Don't use a one-size-fits-all model for schools throughout the state.

These are some of the ideas that West Virginia's Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney shared Thursday evening with a few dozen people who gathered for a town hall meeting at the Cabell County Courthouse.

Huntington was the sixth stop for Maloney, who hails from Morgantown and founded a successful coal mine drilling company. He says he has "lived the American dream" and wants to help others do the same through hard work and opportunity.

"We've been all over the state, and it's amazing the energy and the ideas we're getting at these meetings," he said.

His campaign calls for several measures to create new jobs in West Virginia including cleaning up the legal climate for business and limiting overreach of the federal government. Maloney also proposes controlling state government spending by eliminating wasteful bureaucracies, ensuring transparency of state spending documents, increasing oversight for state agency spending and prohibiting no-bid contracts.

Always in terms of business, "It shouldn't be about who you know. It should be about what you know," Maloney said. "Simple stuff."

He suggests strengthening the education system through several measures such as raising teacher salaries for improved performance and eliminating bureaucracy of the education system.

In terms of health, he wants to encourage West Virginians to get outdoors more, extend substance abuse prevention efforts in schools and promote public-private partnerships and faith-based initiatives.

With the state ranking low in so many areas, such as being 49th in per capita income, it's time for a change, said state Delegate Kelli Sobonya, R-Cabell.

"We need new leadership in place," Sobonya said. "There's nowhere to go but up. I would be proud to serve with Bill Maloney. I think he has a bold agenda. ... He has business experience, and I think that's what we need in West Virginia."

Those who attended the town hall meeting asked questions or commented on many issues, such as asking his thoughts on new energy sources, to which he said, "We're blessed with abundant energy. We need to use it all," and added that the government shouldn't inhibit new ideas.

One audience member expressed interest in public employees' insurance switching to defined contribution plans. Another audience member expressed her mother's concern about someday losing her late husband's pension from a coal company because of the slumping industry. And another participant mentioned concerns about the sluggish bureaucracy holding up construction of the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health here in Huntington.

Ernest Midkiff, a Korean War veteran, retired businessman and grandfather, said he just wants West Virginia to be able to keep children home. Some of his are working great jobs -- out of state. Maloney said he could relate, as his two daughters and his newborn grandson all live in Charlotte, N.C.

Maloney said he didn't have answers to everything and was happy to hear concerns and ideas from the people he met throughout the state. He also said he's hopeful for a turnaround in the upcoming election.

"The whole Democrat-Republican thing is very blurry in this state," he said when someone asked about convincing "old, conservative Democrats that their party has deserted them."

He said he's been visiting in the coalfields and several communities throughout the state trying to change some minds.

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