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

I grew up on the family farm in Swan Pond, Berkeley County, with my sister and three brothers. From a young age, I was taught personal and financial responsibility and the value of hard work.

While attending college, I worked for my Dad’s agricultural aviation business, which served the Tri-State area farming community. I spent the off-season officiating high school wrestling, and worked with autistic and other special needs children.

After graduating from West Virginia University, I taught high school in Berkeley County for two years. I returned to Shepherd to teach upper-level marketing, before joining Mack Trucks as a materials management supervisor.

I worked my way through the ranks of two major airlines, and flew both large and small aircraft. Today, I pilot international Boeing 757/767 flights for a major airline.

I was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2012 and represented Berkeley County’s 63rd District. I was re-elected two more terms, ending in 2018.

My wife, Stella, and I were married in 2000, and have five beautiful children.

I am concerned for the future of our children due to the direction of our state and country. Piling on perpetual debt for future generations is a recipe for disaster. We must grow our economy by being more competitive with neighboring states.

The financial state of affairs and my knowledge of issues relating to government corruption are just a few reasons I ran for office in 2012. I saw corruption first hand and took my concerns with mounting evidence to several elected officials. They looked the other way! Undeterred, I filed a complaint with the WV State Ethics Commission. My complaint resulted in the equivalent of a plea bargain. As Thomas Jefferson said, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”

Here are examples of legislation I fought for:

  • Defeated a bill that would have infringed on property rights by allowing privatized eminent domain.
  • Passed legislation to make our state and local government more open and transparent.
  • Exposed financial shenanigans that are ongoing in state government. Whether it is the “stealing from Peter to pay Paul” mentality, the frivolous spending on things like $20,000 routers, $32,000 couches or simply living beyond our means. When your household income drops because of the economy, you cut expenses. Is it too much to ask for our state to do the same?
  • Defeated the $450 million tax increase by submitting a budget to prove the budget could be balanced without raising taxes.

REAL leadership is doing the Right Thing, even when those around you seek to do the politically expedient.

My priorities:

  • Cut unnecessary programs, reduce waste, and streamline our government agencies.
  • Eliminate Equipment and Inventory tax to be more competitive with neighboring states.
  • Eliminate Certificate of Need laws to increase access to healthcare, especially in times of crisis.
  • I will protect the unborn. I am pro-life with a 100% pro-life voting record.
  • I am pro-2nd Amendment with a 100% pro-2A voting record and adamantly against “red-flag” gun laws.
  • I will fight to protect the US and the WV constitutions to ensure the people of WV the right to life, liberty and property.

Help change the paradigm in Charleston, which has led us down the path that made us first in everything bad and last in everything good. We need a new path that treats everyone fairly, rids our state of corruption and promotes economic principles that allow us to be competitive with other states.

Michael Folk, a resident of Martinsburg, is a Republican candidate for West Virginia governor.

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