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NAME: Mark A. Bates
CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia House of Delegates District 16 (Covers parts of Cabell and Lincoln)
HOME CITY: Huntington
HOME COUNTY: Cabell
EDUCATION: Graduate Barboursville High School (1981); Attended Marshall University (1981-1984).
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Huntington City Council (2009-present) Term limited (3rd term); President and Owner- Mark Bates Pre-owned Automobiles; President and Owner- Price King Rent A Car.
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Former General Manager Superior Cadillac- Oldsmobile
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Huntington YMCA Board of Directors (2008-present); Currently Vice President of the Board.
ENDORSEMENTS: West Virginians For Life, US Term Limits, West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, West Virginia Building and Construction Trades, West Virginia Appalachian Laborer's District Council, West Virginia Education Association, West Virginia Chamber of Commerce PAC, International Union of Operating Engineers, Cabell County Education Association, AFL-CIO, South Western District Labor Council, Greater PA Carpenters, Painters District 53, American Federation of Teachers, West Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, West Virginia State Troopers Association.
FAMILY: parents, Freddie and Barbara Bates.
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I have been privileged to serve the residents of District 6 in the City of Huntington for the past 12 years. Due to term limits, ( 3 four year terms) I am prohibited from running for City Council. After several weeks of researching, consideration and prayer, I decided to toss my hat in the ring for a seat in the 16th District House of Delegates. I pledge to work as hard for my constituents in District 16 as I have during my tenure on Huntington City Council.
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?
Connectivity to better broadband must be a priority. To locate business and industry in West Virginia, this is most important. We must also work to fund and promote more tourism to our state.
2. Do you support recent weakening of EPA regulations concerning air and water quality? Why or why not?
Balanced common sense regulation is a more responsible approach. We should focus on building our economy, while keeping the safety and well being of West Virginians in mind regarding air and water quality.
3. What role do you see for state government in reversing West Virginia’s population decline?
In order to reverse West Virginia's declining population, state government must focus on strengthening our economy, providing hope and a future for all young and old. This would involve an overhaul of our tax system, less regulation, and possible incentives for those being educated here that remain living and working in West Virginia.
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?
The opioid crisis has pushed our foster care system past it's limits. I commend the 2020 Legislature on their actions, but we need to do more to simplify becoming a foster parent.
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?
Yes I believe West Virginia's tax structure needs a complete overhaul, top to bottom. We must balance tax breaks and incentives while not placing undue burden on our residential tax payers. We also need to make sure County governments are made whole. This is very complicated and we should look at other states and what they are doing successfully.
6. Do you think the educational reform bill passed in 2019 is working/will be effective?
I believe that the Educational Reform Bill passed in 2019 is a starting point, however, public perception is that it had no input from students, parents, teachers, Boards of Education and other professionals. We need every stakeholder to at least have a place at the table to voice their concerns and ideas.
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 to add more support staff is a step in the right direction. Now more than ever before, our school support staff, teachers and administration are needed more than just to educate. We are asking them to feed more children who otherwise would go without meals, offer emotional support and more social services.
8. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?
To improve workforce development in West Virginia, state government should be more innovative in offering more skilled trade, vocational and community college support. We can more effectively work with the business community and Chamber of Commerce to identify skill requirement needs. Then a plan must be put in place so that these courses and training are being provided.
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?
In reference to the opioid abuse epidemic, I would support additional review and strengthening of laws and jail time in relation to drug dealers. We also need to greatly reduce the "need" for these drugs, by providing more "long term" treatment beds and providing hope for those coming out of recovery and rehabilitation by providing more employment opportunities.
10. How would you improve the state’s access to broadband internet?
Access to broadband internet absolutely must be a priority. We will not have successful outside investment into our economy without much improved broadband accessibility. Many parts of West Virginia are under served or have no broadband at all...This is totally inexcusable!
NEW GENERAL ELECTION QUESTIONS
11. How would you prioritize using the funds provided to WV by the CARES Act and other COVID-19 relief funds?
In relation to COVID-19 Cares Act funds, I as a small business owner would like to see additional funding for small businesses that have been extremely affected. For example, additional funding for PPE, cleaning and sanitizing supplies or funds to keep employees working that otherwise would be unemployed.
12. What changes in current election laws would you favor to make voting safer and more accessible?
After the general election Cabell County will have had 3 elections during the pandemic. I suggest that we review and make decisions based on real data and input from County Clerks and election officials.
13. Lack of broadband access limits employment and educational opportunities in many parts of West Virginia. What should be done to make broadband available statewide?
In relation to broadband deficiencies in the state, we should seek to create local opportunities for providers that fosters competition, and hold these providers accountable to continue providing upgrades in service. We need a competitive environment while not allowing a monopoly to exist.
14. Given COVID-19, how do you propose we protect our students, teachers and school service personnel while at the same time providing equal access to a quality education across the state?
In regards to the safety of students, teachers and school service personnel we should rely on evidence data and not politics. Elected officials ( County School Boards ) should consider the data provided by health and education professionals and make decisions that best suit their county.
15. What experience, training or education do you have that would make you an effective state legislator?
I have the most legislative experience on the local level. During my 12 years on City Council I have always served in a leadership position. I year as Finance Chair, 2 years as Vice Chair and 9 years as Chairman. I have been part of a team that’s balanced 12 budgets, and I have a history of working with others to get things done.