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NAME: Jakob Jitima
CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia House of Delegates District 16 (Covers parts of Cabell and Lincoln counties)
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: facebook.com/ElectJitima
HOME CITY: Ona
HOME COUNTY: Cabell
EDUCATION: Currently working on a Bachelor's in Pre-Med at Marshall University
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Student Assistant at Marshall University
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Student Government Association
FAMILY: Ben Jitima. Jennifer Jitima
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I have been blessed to represent and advocate for the students at Marshall University through the Student Government Association, assisting the Marshall Food Pantry, and helping organize a large food drive for the citizens of Huntington. I believe the state legislature needs younger faces who will be accountable for their decisions for decades to come. I believe it will be beneficial for a new wave of politicians to enter the government to see varying views instead of the same ones we have seen. West Virginia needs help and new people advocating for citizens is the best way to fix it.
Questions from the West Virginia League of Women Voters:
1. With the decline in the extraction industries in West Virginia, what do you think should be done to diversify the state’s economy?
I believe West Virginia needs to begin welcoming different industries. Coal has progressed us to this point, and I am thankful for it, but we need to begin looking at other forms of industry such as renewables.
2. Do you support recent weakening of EPA regulations concerning air and water quality? Why or why not?
I do not support weakening of EPA regulations. I am strongly opposed to government intervention in most cases, but I believe environmental protections are a good example of why we need the state government. The state of the environment affects everyone in the state, and we cannot allow it to get out of hand.
3. What role do you see for state government in reversing West Virginia’s population decline?
West Virginia is not a suitable place right now for individual growth. College students have little faith in their ability to succeed if they were to stay in West Virginia, and we need to change that by pushing community involvement, supporting small businesses, and helping the disadvantaged.
Additional questions from The Herald-Dispatch:
4. The state’s foster care system struggles to care for the 7,000 plus children who are now in it. Some action has been taken in recent months, but what further action do you think might be necessary?
Transparency and community engagement are two of the most powerful aspects of democracy. Educating the population and creating a foster system needs people who are committed to making a difference as foster parents and as social workers. A larger population that is educated and passionate about advocating for children in the foster care system is the best way.
5. There have been several attempts to reduce taxes on business in the state, including one failed in this past legislative session. Is it wise to keep pursuing tax breaks for business, at the possible expense of residential taxpayers? Do you think the state’s tax structure needs an overhaul?
The general population should be put first. Everyone is a part of that population and keeping taxes lower for individuals should be a priority. At the same time, we do not need high business taxes. Businesses allow us to create jobs for our citizens. We just need to lower taxes overall and have less spending.
6. Do you think the educational reform bill passed in 2019 is working/will be effective?
I personally do not like charter schools coming with the bill. Charter schools run off of the idea that if it’s succeeds then it is good. Charter schools have zero accountability and can have financial success without meeting necessary standards for its students. I appreciate the legislature taking charters slowly, but the lack of regulation worries me.
7. How would you describe efforts so far to add more support staff in the state’s schools to help children in troubled homes?
I’m honestly not for sure. I haven’t seen much information regarding the topic, but I believe there is always room to help students in troubled homes. I definitely would like to improve the process, but I wouldn’t want to make any decisions without talking to experienced personnel to figure out the most effective way to solve the issue.
8. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?
Diversifying the economy is the best way to improve the workforce. Diversifying will create competition and competition creates more jobs. We need to create the opportunity for new industries to enter the state so that there is even an opportunity for citizens to fend for themselves. Citizens haven’t been given that opportunity, and the state has suffered.
9. West Virginia has been especially hard hit by the opioid abuse epidemic. What do you see as the role of the legislature in addressing this crisis?
It is the government’s role to keep people safe. We need to prevent the access to these illegal opioids because they are being prescribed despite the absolute need for them. The legislature needs to ensure safe prescription of opioids as well as set an example of the community involvement needed to curb the epidemic such as treatment facilities.
10. How would you improve the state’s access to broadband internet?
Internet service providers will come to where it appeals. Creating areas where people are attracted to will also attract providers. We need to create industry areas that support larger populations. Fixing the economy and creating a great educational system will allow these industries to pop up, encourage more populated areas, and bring service providers into our area.