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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.

West Virginians are proud, tough and determined. We are hard-working people, trying to live good lives with dignity.

Fueled by a passion for serving others, I began my career in public service as an early childhood education teacher at Davis Creek Elementary. I never imagined myself running for public office. In time, I decided to run for magistrate because I witnessed first-hand the challenges our community faced and their impact on our children. The people of West Virginia want safer streets and a fair court system; it’s time for our magistrate court to reflect these goals.

I know that it’s the height of election season, and the voters will hear an array of campaign promises from politicians. Politics has earned a reputation for being a dog-eat-dog arena. I believe in putting people before politics. This election is not about any individual candidate or race. In essence, it’s about the people of West Virginia and the challenges that we collectively face as a community.

Securing safer streets and a fair court system begins with having a magistrate who puts people before politics. As magistrate, I will uphold our Constitution and assess each case with our community in mind. Utilizing the tools awarded to magistrates by the West Virginia Legislature, I will be fiscally responsible and socially compassionate, using alternative sentencing programs, when appropriate. That said, I firmly believe that any violent offender who poses a danger to our community should be in a correctional facility.

I grew up in Milton with my grandmother. Growing up, she told me to never judge others based on who they know or the size of their bank account, but by the quality of their character and the size of their heart. I have made the decision not to accept any campaign contributions. Currently, West Virginia law permits any individual to donate up to $2,800 per campaign, per election. In my view, you cannot accept $2,800 from someone and not owe them something. Likewise, I vow to utilize judicial disqualification in any case where I may have a conflict of interest.

This election marks a pivotal moment in our state’s future, and I hope that you will entrust me with your confidence. Securing safer streets and a fair court system begins with putting people before politics. I am asking for your vote because, for me, it’s all about the people of West Virginia.

Opal Sanders, a resident of Huntington, is a candidate for Cabell County Magistrate in Division 6.

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