This is one of a series of guest columns from candidates in contested races in the June 9 West Virginia Primary Election.
As a Democratic candidate for attorney general, I want you to know my story — where I come from, what I’ve achieved for our citizens, and what I believe. I’m a native West Virginian whose family stretches back generations across Nicholas, Greenbrier and Hampshire counties, and beyond. I’ve served as a lawyer representing hundreds of coal miners statewide and other workers, too. In my law practice, we have fought for black lung benefits, retirees’ healthcare, safe working conditions, fair pay, better public schools, better support for individuals in long-term recovery from substance use disorder, and much more. I’ve been honored to secure millions of dollars in class action settlements and judgments for some of the hardest-working citizens of the Mountain State.
I learned my ethics of hard work and public service from my parents and from my old boss, U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd. My mom is a mighty proud West Virginian and social worker who grew up in Romney and Ronceverte. My father is a public health doctor who dedicated his life to keeping coal miners and all workers healthy on the job. I served as a legislative advisor to Sen. Robert C. Byrd during the last few years that he was in the U.S. Senate. I saw how Senator Byrd respected and truly loved our citizens. He demanded the utmost responsiveness and professionalism from his staff. So, I forcefully believe that we deserve public officials who work to support our people just as hard as our people work to support their own families and communities.
My political approach is focused on securing sensible solutions to our toughest problems. I’m not afraid to call a spade a spade. And I don’t back down from a worthy fight. I’ve litigated against the most powerful companies in our state, including those owned by Governor Justice. But the way we deliver those kinds of results is not by partisan grandstanding or politically motivated lawsuits. It’s by getting together with companies that have done wrong, making our point legally, and finding ways to work together to move forward. That’s how we’ve created change and delivered results to protect our families and strengthen our economy.
In my primary race, I’ve earned the most contributions of any candidate by far. I’ve received endorsements from diverse sources including organized labor and law enforcement. And I have raised the money from ordinary folks all across this state and nation. Coal miners. Teachers. Healthcare providers. That is how people should be earning their way to public office — proving that they can deliver results and inspiring the genuine support of our citizens. Talk is cheap. So, I’m not running on a record of talking points or empty political gestures. We’ve seen eight years of that from Patrick Morrisey, and I think that most of us have had enough. I’m running on my record of delivering results that have positively impacted the lives of thousands of West Virginians — improving healthcare, protecting wages and benefits, investing in public education, and finding innovative solutions for the addiction crisis. We should accept nothing less from our attorney general.
I’ll hope you’ll each complete your absentee ballot application, and send in your vote for Sam Brown Petsonk, Democrat, for attorney general. You can visit my website, www.samforwv.com.