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Editorial: Area blessed with strong legislative advocates

Oct. 16, 2012 @ 10:40 PM

Because of redistricting following the 2010 Census, legislative districts in West Virginia have undergone many changes since the last general election. Boundaries of most districts changed, and many voters now find themselves voting in legislative districts that have different names.

That could lead to some confusion, meaning that it's important for voters to check with their county clerks or the Secretary of State's office to determine just which legislative candidates they will decide on when they cast ballots.

Despite the altered landscape, the Huntington region is fortunate because several state lawmakers who have served the area ably in years past are seeking a return to the Legislature.

The largest block of seats at stake in the region's House of Delegates districts is in District 16, which includes the northern and eastern portion of Cabell County and part of Lincoln County. A field of five candidates are seeking three positions.

Among them are three incumbents -- Democrats Kevin J. Craig and Jim Morgan and Republican Carol Miller. All have looked out for the region's interests as well as taken sound positions on statewide issues. During their several terms in office, all have shown and voiced support for improved education, including as an important tool to develop the state's workforce, and initiatives that would benefit Marshall University, Huntington and the state's economy. They also have listed as priorities increased emphasis on drug treatment for abusers, and they are open to seeking creative ways to deal with the state's prison overcrowding problem. Craig, Morgan and Miller each merit another term in the House.

In House District 17, which includes the western portion of Cabell County and the northeastern tip of Wayne County, four candidates are seeking two positions. One of them is Democrat Doug Reynolds, an attorney and businessman who is seeking his fourth term in the House. He has been and says he will continue to be focused on education, improving the tax structure for businesses and eliminating waste in state spending. Among the other candidates in this district is newcomer Michael Ankrom, a Republican who holds a degree in management and finance from Marshall University and espouses the worthwhile goals of reforming the state's legal and tax structures and capitalizing on growing the energy sector to boost the state's economy. Reynolds and Ankrom are the best choices in this district.

Republican incumbent Kelli Sobonya is seeking her sixth term in the House, this time from the new single-member District 18, which includes the south central portion of Cabell County. Sobonya is diligent in carrying out her duties and has been instrumental in passing laws to protect children from child predators on the Internet and while riding school buses. She merits re-election.

In District 19, which includes the bulk of Wayne County, a three-way race for two seats includes veteran lawmakers Rick Thompson, who is the House speaker, and Don Perdue. Thompson has played a key role in helping the state manage its budget responsibly, and Perdue has been a strong advocate on health-related issues. Both Democrats have looked out for Wayne County interests, such as support for an intermodal facility in Prichard and funding for a lodge and conference center at Beech Fork State Park. Both should be allowed to continue work in Charleston.

Among the legislative candidates who are unopposed in the general election is Sen. Robert H. Plymale in District 5 (Cabell County). He is a Democrat who also has been a strong advocate for the region.

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