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NAME: Karen Nance
CANDIDATE FOR: W.Va. House of Delegates District 23 (southern Cabell County)
HOME COUNTY: Cabell
EDUCATION: High School Diploma from Barboursville High School in 1972;
Undergraduate Degree from Marshall University, 1987, Majors in History and Basic Humanities with a Minor in Anthropology; Graduate Degree from Marshall University, 1994, in Geography with a Minor in Anthropology.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Owner of The Old House Doctor.
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Previously worked for Kroger’s, Marshall University, and Huntington WV Housing Authority.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Parliamentarian for Cabell County Democrat Women; Barboursville Lions Club; League of Women Voters; Secretary for the Carter G. Woodson Memorial Foundation, Inc.; Secretary for the Madie Carroll House Preservation Society, Inc.; Secretary for Guyandotte Civil War Days & Raid on Guyandotte, Inc. and Secretary for the Greenbottom Society, Inc.
FAMILY: husband, Johnny Nance; children, Cherrie Houser and Jonathan Nance; grandchildren, Cleia Lovejoy, Corbin Lovejoy, Lilly Owen and Skye Nance.
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I understand the issues and will work for solutions. I will make time to hear concerns and suggestions. I will stand up against the passing of Legislation that comes from outside interest that does not improve the lives of West Virginians. I will promote legislation that is fair and just. I stand against legislation that discriminates against individuals or groups. I will protect the US Bill of Rights, all ten of them. I support a real solution for the foster care system and the opioid crisis. I will fight for education, labor, families, seniors, the environment, and veterans.
1. Do you agree with the Legislature's recent action to allow nuclear power plants in West Virginia, and why or why not?
Nuclear power plants remain unsafe with no safe way to dispose of the contaminated waste, and they can be an environmental disaster if damaged by terrorist or a natural disaster. They take years to construct. Their construction costs are passed on to the consumer raising power bills. There are other alternative energy sources that are renewable, environmentally friendly, and cheaper.
2. What is your stance on the full legalization of recreational cannabis?
I am 100% for Medical Cannabis. Patients’ doctors know when cannabis will benefit their patients. I am not for recreational cannabis because children’s and young adults’ brains are negatively impacted by secondhand cannabis smoke. I don’t see how we can control the secondhand cannabis smoke. Also, I do not believe we should put people in jail for cannabis use.
3. What should be done to diversify the state's economy and prevent population loss?
Infrastructure improvements are needed to open up areas that lost jobs and population. Pass legislation that incentivizes environmentally friendly industries to move into these areas. For example, promote renewable agriculture products such as hemp and manufacturing facilities to produce hemp products. There are many abandoned properties that can be utilized. We should look at industries that create jobs.
4. The state’s foster care system struggles to care for the thousands of children who are now in it. What further action do you think might be necessary?
We were told the last legislation to fix the foster care system, going private, would solve the problem. It’s worse. We should not send children to the nearest relative and not give that relative the same support we give foster care guardians. If it is a low-income home, the relatives cannot provide enough support for the children to thrive.
5. How can West Virginia attract and keep qualified educators?
We need to increase salaries and make them competitive with surrounding states. We need to find a solution for the PEIA benefit problem. We need to hire professionals that can educate our increasing numbers of special needs and at-risk students. We need to quit passing laws that tie educators’ hands in the classroom such as the so-called anti-racism law.
6. Do you support amending state law to provide anti-discrimination protections for West Virginia's LGBTQ community?
We need on the State level to pass laws such as the anti-discrimination ordinances our cities passed that increase LGBTQs protection under the law. Equal rights mean equal rights.
7. How would you describe efforts so far to add more support staff in the state’s schools to help children in troubled homes?
Current laws do not go far enough. Adequate funding is needed to hire additional support staff. I would support changing the school funding formula. County BOEs are limited under the formula to the numbers of personnel they can have based on the number of students. Additional employees have to have other funding sources. Some counties just don’t have the founding.
8. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?
Legislate free career training programs after high school and free community college. Keep funding the promise scholarship. Improve student achievement in our public schools. The better trained and educated the workforce the higher their wages, the more they have to spend, the better homes for children, and the more taxes they pay. Protect workers’ rights for a safe environment.
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?
The legislature needs to provide additional funding for treatment programs; pass legislation that’s goal is to get addicts out of jail; and pass legislation that aids in their transition back into the community. Pass laws that require regular drug testing and provide recovery programs in jail. Time in jail should give an addict time to recover, not continue the habit.
10. Who is more qualified to handle education policy issues, legislators or county board of education members?
The county BOE members are best qualified because education is their business. They collaborate daily with other educators to improve student achievement and develop policies that meet the needs of the students and staff. Legislators are making education political even though under the WV Constitution the State BOE is a separate entity for the purpose of eliminating politics in education.
Additional questions for the general election
11. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, it triggered a West Virginia law dating from the 1800s that restricts abortions. Now the state legislature has a chance to refine that law. How would you like to see this law shaped for West Virginia? Would you support a statewide referendum on the question?
The Legislature has recently passed an anti-abortion law that I feel is extreme and an overreach into the private lives of West Virginians and limits their right to make decisions for their families. I would like to shape a law that returns to women the rights they had under Roe Vs Wade. I do not support a statewide referendum.
12. What should be done to diversify the state's economy and prevent population loss?
The State needs to recruit new environmentally friendly industries in agriculture and manufacturing. The State can offer incentives to new businesses and improve infrastructure, education, public services, and amenities that businesses are looking for in an area, not cut taxes that fund these needs. People will stay where they can find a good job, safe, healthy environment, and good schools.
13. Many counties in West Virginia cannot fill teaching positions with certified teachers, particularly in math and science, which are critical subjects to ensure West Virginia students are prepared and competitive. What would you do to attract qualified teachers to West Virginia?
Increase pay and fix PEIA. Do not pass Amendments 2 that slices school funds over 25% and Amendment 4 that gives Legislators, non-educators, control of our school curriculum. Teachers do not want to work in schools where one parent can ruin their careers because a child is made uncomfortable over a lesson. This is how Legislature control negatively impacts recruitment.
14. Do you support amending state law to provide anti-discrimination protections for West Virginia's LGBTQ community?
A resounding yes. It is a sad state of affairs when we have to pass laws to protect individuals that already should have those rights under the Constitution and Civil Rights Act that states that discrimination based on “sex” is illegal. I believe everyone has equal rights regardless of their sexual orientation.