NAME: Tom Tull
CANDIDATE FOR: W.Va. House of Delegates, District 38
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.tomtullwv.com
HOME CITY: Scott Depot
HOME COUNTY: Putnam
PERSONAL STATEMENT: A teacher, school principal and administrator in the Putnam County School system for over 35 years, I’m a life-long educator who knows the future of West Virginia depends on reinvesting in education. My wife Claudia and I live on a small farm, where we raised two grown children. I’m a liturgist and teach Sunday School at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in St. Albans. I’m a former President of the Winfield Lions Club as well as former President for the Putnam County Education Association. My hobbies are reading histories, volunteer reading at local elementary schools and playing the mountain dulcimer with the Tri-State Mountain Dulcimer Society.
EDUCATION: Bachelors Degree from University of Charleston, two Masters Degrees from Marshall University.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Retired from Putnam County Schools.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Lions Club, AARP, WVEA-Retired, Assoc. Of Retired School Personnel.
ENDORSEMENTS: American Federation of Teachers of WV, AFT-Putnam, WV Education Association, WVEA-Putnam & Kanawha, WV School Service Personnel Association, UMWA, AFL-CIO of WV, International Union of Operating Engineers, Communications Workers of America, Building and Construction Trades Council, Kanawha Valley Labor Council, WV Association for Justice, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
FAMILY: wife, Claudia Quillen Tull; daughter and son-in-law, Erika Tull and David Stader; son and daughter-in-law, Travis and Becca Tull; grandchildren, Skylar, Dawson, Samuel, Luke and Gwenyth.
1 Are you satisfied with how the state legislature has addressed developing and balancing the state budget?
Although the budget was completed during the regular session, major issues such as drug abuse and crime, fixing PEIA and creating a plan to address public employee’s salaries were not addressed. Two other areas of government took a hard hit – commerce and tourism. Looking at a big picture base for some taxation with lower rates may be needed.
2. What new or additional measures are necessary to create a safe and healthy environment for all West Virginians?
Expanding good healthcare access, promoting and supporting technical and career centers, promoting new business development, improving wages for public employees, helping senior citizens by eliminating state income taxes on Social Security and creating good paying jobs by promoting small and medium businesses can best benefit all West Virginians.
3. What do you think the role of the legislature should be in developing a more diversified economy in the state.
A diversified economy opens the doors for providing the goods and services of a growing community. Investing resources in public education, tourism, public safety and services including health, retail, financial and legal services can lead to growth in these supportive industries.
4. What measures could help prevent gun violence and mass shootings?
All schools should have “PRO” officers assigned to schools. We should consider “red flag” legislation that temporarily restricts gun access for individuals that pose a clear danger to themselves or others. Improving mental health screenings and treatment and instruction on gun safety can be added. We can help students feel more secure by using schools as portals to deliver more public and community services.
5. With the increased incidence of black lung disease in recent years, does more need to be done to protect miners’ health and safety?
A stronger miner protection program may offer both detecting and controlling coal mine dust exposure which according to experts, appears to be the key reason for the increase in black lung disease, of which varies depending on the type of mining.
6. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?
The legislature should increase investment in post-high school education and training. By purchasing the kinds of equipment that is currently being used in industry, students receive relevant training that transfers immediately into jobs. Incentives for businesses and unions to improve their training programs should be considered by state government.
7. 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?
By examining existing programs that are working in West Virginia and other states, the legislature may then provide the necessary structure and resources to recreate successful programs, strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance and providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction.
8. What should be done long-term to fix PEIA health insurance for state employees?
Permanent funding sources must be designated to stabilize and fix PEIA. There are multiple funding possibilities up for discussion, (Medicare-for-All, raising natural gas tax) so exactly which ones should be used will be the subject of much discussion in the upcoming legislative session. A health-care fix will be in the making.
9. What measures do you support on fracking/horizontal drilling that would protect people living near drilling sites?
I support holding drilling companies liable for all damages sustained by surface owners due to drilling. Companies should put up bonds to indemnify their work and ensure they do not leave or go out of business before claims are settled. I also support fair compensation to property owners with leases to their gas rights.
10. What can the state government do to improve educational achievement in West Virginia?
Listen to suggestions from teachers, who have experienced a host of other proven techniques for quality instruction. Give them space to do what they know will work. The other half of the equation is to let them make students put forth effort. If students waste instructional time in class, allow teachers to make students work during student free time, their lunch time or recess time.
11. How would you improve the state’s access to broadband internet?
Broadband is essential to education and economic development. The legislature should provide resources and structure to its development. The state should be divided into areas for development and then have companies bid on contracts for each area. Those companies that do excellent work should be rewarded in some way while those companies that are unable to provide good service could have their contracts cancelled.
12. How can WV benefit from the natural gas industry without leaving a legacy of environmental damage, health problems and decreased property values?
Reclamation bonds should be high enough to encourage companies to work within EPA guidelines. The state should tax the industry appropriately and reinvest that revenue into education and economic development. The state should also encourage value added gas products to be produced in the state by awarding incentives to companies willing to invest here.
13. Where do you think the responsibility for setting educational standard lies (e.g., state or county)?
The state is responsible for setting educational standards by constitution and Bailey vs. WV Board of Education. To determine standards, the state must look at what businesses and industries want. across the country That is necessary to ensure our students can compete with all other students in obtaining positions in business, industry and institutions of higher learning anywhere.
14. What kinds of assistance from the state would you support to address the shortage of decent, affordable rental housing in WV?
All kinds of assistance should be considered. Assistance could be in the form of subsidized rents, guaranteed mortgage loans, and incentives to builders and developers. For the poorest citizens, the ladder may start with very basic housing that places people in decent accommodations and connects them to employment and society.