The Tri-State’s TRUSTED news source.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to Herald-Dispatch.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.

Learn more about HD Media

This is one of a series of guest columns from candidates in contested races in the June 9 West Virginia Primary Election.

I’m running for governor to get things done for the people. The truth is that our state needs a governor who actually wants the job, not just the title. I’ll be a governor who puts public service ahead of self-service.

As a lawyer for over 21 years, I’ve always fought for working families, standing up for the little guy, the forgotten and the neglected. On the Kanawha County Commission, I’ve gotten things done people said were impossible.

They told me 12 weeks of paid family leave wasn’t possible; we did it. I was told the Shawnee Sports Complex would never happen; we built it in eight months. It was done on time, on budget, and built with good-paying union jobs. I also cleared the wait list for Kanawha County seniors who needed a hot meal delivered to their home. Folks said I couldn’t get water to Olcott; by working together they will now have water.

I know how to get things done. It’s why the AFL-CIO, West Virginia’s Professional Firefighters, and the Sheriffs’ Association endorsed my campaign. They’ve seen me in action as county commissioner.

After this pandemic loosens its grip on our nation, we need a leader who can rebuild our economy and retool our workforce. West Virginia’s job losses, lack of good-paying jobs and population decline started well before anyone heard of the coronavirus. Our next governor will need to manage the federal assistance our state receives, and it will be a full-time job to make sure our small businesses and workers are at the front of the line.

As a Kanawha County commissioner, I’ve created jobs and diversified the economy, including in areas that have been hit hard by the decline of coal and forgotten about by the career politicians. I started the UKAN program which turned the unemployed into entrepreneurs through a small business loan forgiveness program.

When I’m governor here’s what I’ll get done:

Paid Family Leave: Enact 12 weeks of paid family leave that mirrors the new federal law for public employees. It will include welcoming the birth of a child, including adoptions and foster children, and for grandparents who are stepping up to raise their grandchildren.

Jobs: I will diversify the economy and strengthen our workforce by expanding vocational and technical training to make sure West Virginians are prepared for in-demand jobs. I’ll bring broadband to every community across the state.

Roads: I will actually fix and upgrade roads and bridges across West Virginia. We need a long-term plan to fix our roads in every corner of our state. Patchwork projects aren’t getting it done.

Education: I will reduce class sizes, give educators a raise in order to recruit and retain teachers and school service personnel. I’ll make sure our teachers have the freedom to teach.

Healthcare: I will fight to protect people with pre-existing conditions and save our rural hospitals from closing. I will make healthcare affordable and accessible.

I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I grew up in a two-bedroom trailer in Glen Morgan in Raleigh County where I watched my parents struggle to make ends meet and start a local newspaper called the Old Mountain Trader. I’m not afraid of a hard day’s work. I’ve done it my entire career. And now, more than ever, we need a governor who will roll up his sleeves and get to work.

Like you, I’ve had enough of the empty talk from career politicians.

It’s time for results. I’d be honored to have your vote in the June 9 Democratic Primary. You can now vote by mail from the comfort of your home. For more information on the absentee voting process visit

Ben Salango, a resident of Charleston, is a Democratic candidate for West Virginia governor.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Recommended for you