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Editorial: Tomblin is best choice in governor's race

Sep. 17, 2011 @ 08:00 PM

West Virginia has many challenges, but by most measures, the state is in better shape than it has been in years and moving forward.

Earl Ray Tomblin has played a big part in that progress, and over the past year, he has continued to lead the state in the right direction as acting governor. As early voting begins Wednesday for this fall's special gubernatorial election, we think Tomblin's proven leadership and reasonable approach make him the right choice for voters.

Both as senate president and acting governor, Tomblin has helped bring new jobs to the state, gradually closing the gap on those lost during the recession. That includes high-profile announcements such the Macy's distribution center near Martinsburg and expansions of the Amazon and Alcon operations in our area.

Although the use of economic development incentive has been debated during the campaign, we feel those are necessary to put West Virginia on a competitive footing with other states, and Tomblin has been innovative and responsible in using those tools to close the deals.

For example, he regularly involves local community and technical colleges in such discussions to offer training for workers. That ensures the companies get the skilled manpower they need and West Virginians are first in line for the new jobs.

Improving West Virginia's workforce readiness also is critical to the state's long-term growth, and Tomblin understands the importance of mobilizing our schools and vocational centers to match training with the skills industry needs.

The acting governor also has taken a reasonable approach with the Marcellus Shale drilling, using an executive order to get emergency rules in place and working with the legislature to develop long-term guidelines. The state needs to protect property owners and the environment, but we need to avoid knee-jerk reactions that could discourage investment and new jobs.

Tomblin is a moderate Democrat who has helped lower business taxes, and he favors other steps toward a more business-friendly climate, such as adding an intermediate appeals court.

But as a key leader in improving the state government's finances over the past 30 years, Tomblin also has been careful to plan for the future.

Health care reform, as now structured, will cost states plenty in the coming years. Many hope Congress will make changes in that program, but because of the administration's care with the state's surplus and "rainy day" fund, West Virginia should be prepared either way.

The Republican candidate Bill Maloney is a bright man, successful business leader and credible candidate. But we feel Tomblin's experience, accomplishments and proven ability to lead state government are critical to West Virginia maintaining the right course for a better future.

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