HD Media is running submitted questionnaires from candidates in the 2020 elections.
Read more responses from candidates by clicking on the links at right. Candidates who have not received a questionnaire can send an email to acopley@HDMediaLLC.com with their name, candidacy and phone number.
NAME: Ric Griffith
CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia House of Delegates District 19 (covers part of Wayne County)
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: Facebook: ricgriffithforhouse
HOME CITY: Kenova
HOME COUNTY: Wayne
EDUCATION: Ceredo-Kenova High School, University of Toledo College of Pharmacy.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Pharmacist/Owner of Griffith & Feil Drug and Soda Fountain.
OTHER WORK HISTORY: 16 years as an elected official - Two-terms Kenova City Council President, Two-terms Kenova Mayor.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Wayne County Genealogical & Historical Society, Kenova Pumpkin House.
FAMILY: wife, Sandi Griffith; daughters, Heidi Romero, Jenni Butler, Y Daugherty; grandchildren, Dominic & Aliyana Romero, Avery & Griffyn Butler, Jayden & Jackson Daugherty.
PERSONAL STATEMENT: During this troublesome time for our state and nation, partisan voices should be silenced by compassion and cooperation. West Virginia’s struggle to recover from the collective and individual setbacks that will be generated by the COVID-19 pandemic will be among the most difficult in the nation. It is my hope that those chosen to serve in state and local elective offices will dedicate themselves to both our immediate needs and to developing a diverse, sustainable economy. By establishing an educated, prepared, drug-free workforce, well-maintained roads, and business-friendly high- speed internet West Virginia can move toward a brighter future.
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?
We must maximize our tourism industry potential, support agriculture with marketing help and training for food producers, while developing food processing potential. As we work to develop clean energy industries, states like ours that have heavily depended upon coal, should appeal for congressional help and special considerations or credits to arm their struggle to diversify and support those adversely affected.
2. Do you support recent weakening of EPA regulations concerning air and water quality? Why or why not?
No one wants regulations till their own water is poisoned. Like a “Buy American” bumper sticker in a Walmart parking lot, people abandon principles when they must pay for them. Weakening regulations endangers us all, destroys tourism, fishing, and passes the cost to future generations. Short-term gains should not be traded for long-term benefits.
3. What role do you see for state government in reversing West Virginia’s population decline?
State government can affect why it is happening. Opportunities for businesses and jobs are hindered by poor roads, an ill-prepared workforce, drug addiction, and a difficult geography. To reverse the population decline, we must correct deficiencies to give opportunities to the majority who regret leaving.
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?
More effort must be given to recruit, train and support foster parents. It is not uncommon for FP to say they were provided little information about the child, and they could not access mental health services. Additionally, a comprehensive approach should include kinship care, reunification when appropriate, and more streamlined wrap-around services.
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?
Business tax reductions have not worked in the past. Business would improve if education, roads and drug abuse improved. I support EITC for low income residents and no state tax on seniors’ social security as a stimulus. Any overhaul should be done carefully to protect funding for education and infrastructure.
6. Do you think the educational reform bill passed in 2019 is working/will be effective?
I fear it will not. It ignored the voices of education leaders and parents, and it eliminated many evidence-based practices. There were positive aspects, but concerns are workforce reduction, weakened teacher bargaining, reduced oversight, and charter schools, which are separate, but not equal. Public schools accept all students, and all deserve a great education.
7. How would you describe efforts so far to add more support staff in the state’s schools to help children in troubled homes?
Nationwide, there are many innovative programs addressing the role of schools regarding children from troubled homes. Almost all involve mentors, activities, and positive peer interaction. We must protect after school programs, free meals, and the Expanded Medicaid Act, which provides on-site mental health services, drug treatment for students and parents, and other needed support.
8. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?
School curricula should include training that prepares students for the workforce and provides life skills. Building a resume, how to apply, finance, appearance, first aid, CPR, public speaking, and specific job training should be emphasized within traditional education. We must reduce drug abuse while preparing students to have needed skills for today’s jobs.
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?
Each year I attend the National Prescription Drug Abuse Summit and have been pressing for the DEA, FDA, CDC, and other federal agencies to provide clearer guidelines for ideas based on current best practices. State and local governments struggle to do what is most effective, but they need current, scientifically based information to guide their legislation and spending.
10. How would you improve the state’s access to broadband internet?
Fund it with a tax on large out-of-state companies who intentionally locate outside city limits to avoid B&O taxes that are paid by businesses in town. These companies prey upon and kill small businesses across West Virginia. Broadband internet would boost education and bring new businesses and residents to our state. We must achieve it.
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?
The sudden economic impact of COVID-19 required immediate financial relief to small and large businesses. The CARES Act provides multiple areas of help, but refining our approach is important. Reaching businesses with demonstrable losses, seniors, individuals with disabilities, essential workers, and schools, while maintaining a healthy workforce is crucial. We must insure easier access to funds while following science guidelines.
12. What changes in current election laws would you favor to make voting safer and more accessible?
Election officials could help protect the democratic process by: (1) Proactively sending out voter registration forms and absentee ballots with prepaid return envelopes. (2) Partnering with local businesses and colleges to host registration events (3) Launching mobile vote centers (4) Providing election day shuttle services (5) ensuring adequate numbers of poll workers (6) monitoring polling sites' safety precautions and voter verification.
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?
Although West Virginia ranks 47th for Broadband access, our State has made strides toward expanded coverage including the development of the West Virginia Broadband Enhancement Council in 2017, which highlights the need for a coordinated, multi-entity approach. The Council's work should integrate private businesses, federal and state agencies, and other stakeholders to solve the great hurdle - funding.
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?
We must ensure all our citizens have and use PPE, while environmental modifications are made in classrooms and areas of potential exposure. Our resources and needs vary throughout WV with some having broadband coverage, others not, and COVID-19 risk inconsistency. Therefore, a comprehensive State-wide approach is difficult. Each county needs to develop and implement specific plans mindful of safety and those who are disadvantaged.
15. What experience, training or education do you have that would make you an effective state legislator?
As a pharmacist I understand healthcare, drug abuse and the skyrocketing costs of medications. I'm a small business owner who knows the challenges of surviving a competitive world dominated by large corporations. Having served 16 years as a Mayor & City Council President, I have experience with infrastructure, water projects, fiscal planning and government operations, and - I love West Virginia!