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Sean Hornbuckle: New thinking needed on education, economy

Oct. 14, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Recently, I received a campaign contribution from an unlikely source: a local businessman, doting husband, father of two, and staunch Republican. When I thanked the man for his donation, he quickly replied, "You call it a donation, but I look at it as an investment."

He was talking about an investment in the future -- in the potential of not only his own children but also that of my son and that of your sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, godchildren and grandchildren. Regardless of party affiliation, I'm the clear-cut choice to take our state's education system and economy to the next level. The challenges we face require new solutions; we will not solve our problems by doing the same things we have always done. I possess the innovative thinking and much-needed energy to tackle these challenges, and I will work tirelessly to secure the brighter future in which we are all so personally invested.

Our state's economic future is profoundly linked to the quality of our education system and the responsible management of our natural resources. If we want to create an environment for economic growth, we must diversify our economy and create an educated and skilled workforce that will attract businesses from all over the world. If you send me to Charleston as your delegate for the 16th House District, I promise to devote my efforts to improving our education system, creating good-paying jobs right here in West Virginia, and striving for energy independence that will make us less reliant on foreign oil.

To excel in the global economy, West Virginia must first strengthen its education system. In order to do this, we must implement many of the suggestions from the recent education audit. Most importantly, we must create an innovative and effective system for evaluating teachers. It is not fair to assess teachers on test scores alone, nor is it reasonable to believe they should be judged entirely on administrative evaluations.

It is imperative that we encourage education beyond high school, including colleges and universities, technical schools, apprenticeships and community colleges. As someone who may not have attended Marshall without the PROMISE Scholarship, I know how important this program is to our state's youth. I will ensure that we strengthen and maintain this vital program. I will also propose tuition caps so that costs don't soar above inflation rates. We cannot afford to saddle our recent college graduates with mountains of debt.

West Virginia is blessed with bountiful natural resources, and we need to tap into them in order to boost economic growth and decrease our dependence on foreign oil. However, we must ensure that we extract these resources in a responsible manner that keeps our workers safe and does not destroy our beautiful state. Despite what many politicians and pundits have claimed, I am confident we can accomplish this feat in a responsible and effective manner. Yet, let me be clear, the path to economic prosperity in West Virginia absolutely depends on both the coal and natural gas industries.

It will take a proven leader to deliver on these platforms. As former student body president at Marshall, former board member on the Marshall Board of Governors, and financial representative for Mass Mutual, I believe I am more than adequately prepared for the challenges of the House of Delegates. Additionally, my master's degree in business administration sets me apart from many of my legislative colleagues and gives me insight into the intricacies of job creation and economic growth. It won't be easy, but my educational background and community involvement have prepared me well for what I will encounter in Charleston.

I'm running for office to ensure that all West Virginians have an equal opportunity to succeed, as long as they work hard and play by the rules. I'm running so that individuals in lower income neighborhoods, such as the one in which I grew up, have a voice at the table of public policy. Most importantly, I'm running to ensure that my child has a fighting chance to stay in this state and succeed when he grows up. I'm Sean Hornbuckle, and I'm asking for your vote on Nov. 6.

Sean Hornbuckle, a resident of Huntington, is a Democratic candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates from the 16th District.

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