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NAME: John Mandt Jr.
CANDIDATE FOR: W.Va. House of Delegates, 16th District (Covers parts of Cabell and Lincoln counties)
HOME CITY: Huntington
HOME COUNTY: Cabell
EDUCATION: Graduated from Huntington HS, Attended Marshall Univ. majoring in Business.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Delegate in WV House, 16th District; Assistant Majority Whip; Vice Chair: Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development.
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Owner and Fourth Generation of Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Member of Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, Board Member of Cabell Huntington Hospital Foundation, Board Member of Mountain State Centers for Independent Living, Huntington Cabell Republican Women.
PREVIOUS AND CURRENT ENDORSEMENTS: WV Chamber of Commerce, Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, NRA, WV Business and Industry Council, WV Manufacturer’s Association, WV Contractor’s Association, WV Automobile and Trucking Association, West Virginian’s for Life, WV Hospital Association, WV Association of Realtors, US Term Limits, WV Farm PAC, WV Auto Dealers Association and OMEGA (WV Oil Marketers & Grocers Association), WV Hospital PAC, WV Beer Wholesalers Assoc., Local 289 Huntington Firefighters, Community Bankers, Murray Energy PAC, WV Contractors Association and WV Realtors Association.
FAMILY: wife, Ami; children, Phillip, Trey, Abby, Briana, Sami, Mason
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I stand for Faith, Freedom and Christian Family Values. As you can see by my endorsements, I am supported by the business industries in WV. I have completed one term, two sessions, and I absolutely love serving my District, County, and our great state of WV. We are creating a great comeback story, and I’m proud to be a part of it. I currently serve in GOP Leadership as Assistant Majority Whip, Vice-Chair of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, and serve on: Judiciary Committee, Seniors, Children & Family Issues Committee as well as the Select Committee for Substance Abuse.
Questions from the West Virginia League of Women Voters:
1. With the decline in the extraction industries in WV, what do you think should be done to diversify the state’s economy?
We, in the WV Legislature, have taken several meaningful steps over the past few years to attract new development to WV, including legal reforms, education improvements, and fair regulations. I voted in favor of SB583, which helps bring renewable energy to our state and is now a requirement of so many employers that are looking to invest in WV.
2. Do you support recent weakening of EPA regulations concerning air and water quality? Why or why not?
I have and will continue to support regulations for air and water quality that protect the environment and do not inhibit job growth. Environmental regulations and job creation do not need to be an either/or proposition.
3. What role do you see for state government in reversing West Virginia’s population decline?
We are beginning to reverse this trend by providing better opportunities through improving education, attracting businesses through incentives, lowering the cost of community and technical college and improving broadband internet. We also removed taxing our seniors and their social security.
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?
We have taken leaps and bounds in addressing Foster Care in WV. This session, we overwhelmingly passed HB4092 in bipartisan fashion. It adds an additional $16 million of much needed funding for Foster Care families. We also included The Foster Child Bill of Rights and The Foster and Kinship Parent Bill of Rights.
5. There have been several attempts to reduced taxes on business in the state, including one that failed in the past legislative session. Is it wise to keep pursuing tax breaks for business, at the possible expense of residential tax payers? Do you think the state’s tax structure needs an overhaul?
Lowering corporate net income tax and eliminating the business franchise tax were both positive developments in WV improving business climate. We’re in constant competition with other states for job creation. Personal property tax on manufacturing machinery, equipment and inventory, as well as the tax on retail inventory are unique in WV placing us at a competitive disadvantage with other states.
6. Do you think the educational reform bill passed in 2019 is working/will be effective?
I think it’s too early to know if it’s working because this is the first year it has been implemented. We need a good two or three years to see what effects it has and if it’s working as designed.
7. How would you describe efforts so far to add more support staff in the state’s schools to help children in troubled homes?
The effort has been made, but more needs to be done to support our students and the family/social irregularities to which they may be exposed. In HB206, the Education Reform Bill has a host of good things in it. One of the best, was adding much needed nurses and counselors for our students.
8. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in WV?
I voted for SB1, which provides last-dollar-in funding for community and technical education in WV. It is a forward-thinking concept that is helping our citizens get the skills they need. However, I will continue working hard in helping our K-12 education system to prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.
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?
I think something needs to be researched and completed to possibly legalizing MEDICAL marijuana. A bill was discharged from committee to be voted on in the House Chamber, but it wasn’t nearly ready. I don’t think any bill should be discharged from committee as that process is valuable. Doctors are very hesitant to prescribe opioids for pain these days.
10. How should WV improve the state’s access to broadband internet?
I have been a proud supporter of legislation that will enable electric utilities to run middle-mile broadband fiber on existing poles which will help bring internet to un-served and under-served areas of our state. Fact is, without access to high speed internet, business, education and everyday life is much more difficult.