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HD Media is running submitted questionnaires from candidates in the 2020 elections.

Read more responses from candidates by clicking on the links at right.

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NAME: Rupert “Rupie” Phillips, Jr.

CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia State Senate, 7th District (covers Boone, Lincoln, Logan, parts of Mingo and Wayne counties)

PARTY: Republican

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: and RupieforWVSenate on Facebook

HOME CITY: Lundale


AGE: 51

EDUCATION: Man High School 1987, attended Marshall University

CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Former West Virginia Delegate, 24th District

OTHER WORK HISTORY: Employed by Gould Electric

CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Beni Kedem Shriners, Grand Lodge of West Virginia Freemasons, Logan Moose Lodge, American Legion Post 19.

ENDORSEMENTS: National Rifle Association (A+ Rating), West Virginias for Life, West Virginia Coal Association, West Virginia Citizens Defense League (WVCDL), West Virginia Automobile Dealers Association (WVADA), West Virginia Hospital Association PAC (HOSPAC), West Virginia Farm Bureau, West Virginia Home Builders Association, West Virginia Oil Marketers & Grocers Association (OMEGA), West Virginia Trucking Association.

FAMILY: girlfriend, Beth Baldwin; daughter, Sophia Phillips

PERSONAL STATEMENT: I am running because the alternative is unacceptable. The Democrat policies are unacceptable for southern West Virginia, for my district, and for our children’s 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?

There will always be a need for coal and natural gas and they will always be mined in West Virginia but attracting manufacturing, distribution, and high-tech jobs to the state are a priority and I will work closely with Republican leadership to bring those jobs home to West Virginia and the 7th District.

2. Do you support recent weakening of EPA regulations concerning air and water quality? Why or why not?

I support common sense regulations that don’t place unachievable standards on businesses, driving jobs away from our state and my district. I fought selenium regulations that placed unattainable water quality standards on our streams and rivers that hurt our coal mines and threatened our coal miners’ jobs. I will continue to fight the overreach of the EPA.

3. What role do you see for state government in reversing West Virginia’s population decline?

We must work to bring more diverse jobs to West Virginia so our children have an opportunity to stay here. Jobs are the key to keeping our young people in state and our state government can do this by getting out of business owners’ way while providing the tools they need to expand existing businesses or start new ones.

Additional questions from HD Media:

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 must first address the root of why we have so many foster children in West Virginia and that is due to the drug addiction problem. We must provide opportunities for treatment, incarceration intervention, and tax breaks for families that want to adopt but don’t have the financial means to go through the legal process of adoption.

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?

We need to make West Virginia’s tax structure for both business and residents more attractive than our surrounding states. In order to grow West Virginia’s economy and provide better paying jobs for our residents we have make our tax structure competitive with surrounding states or we will lose those businesses to Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

6. Do you think the educational reform bill passed in 2019 is working/will be effective?

I was not part of the legislature when House Bill 206 was passed and while I agree with many portions of the bill, especially providing more local control to boards of educations, pay raises for teachers, and open enrollment, I think we need to allow teachers to teach, give them the tools they need, and get out of their way.

7. How would you describe efforts so far to add more support staff in the state’s schools to help children in troubled homes?

I believe we need to do more to provide a safe and secure learning environment for our children. We need more law enforcement resources, more mental health resources, and more one-on-one counseling so that we know which of our children needs help and make sure they don’t fall through the cracks.

8. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?

We need further diversify, rather than limit, educational offerings from our community and technical colleges, expand technical and high-tech offerings in our secondary schools, and provide tax breaks to businesses offering employee training or retraining programs.

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 can enact legislation that stops doctor shopping, continue to provide the Attorney General with the resources they need to fight the pharmaceutical companies flooding our state with pills, strengthen mail-order penalties for illegal drugs sent through the mail, and provide law enforcement with the tools they need to remove illegal drugs from our streets.

10. How would you improve the state’s access to broadband internet?

I would support Governor Justice in his efforts to get a portion of the $800 million in Federal money available for broadband expansion as well as raising the overall cap on broadband providers and the individual cap per broadband provider in the state. Again, we need to give businesses the tools they need and get out of the way.


11. How would you prioritize using the funds provided to WV by the CARES Act and other COVID-19 relief funds?

First would be hazard pay for our front-line workers including covering child care for those working extra shifts. Next would be helping small businesses with forty employees or less keep their doors open and their people working. Lastly, we need to help those that have lost their jobs keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.

12. What changes in current election laws would you favor to make voting safer and more accessible?

Voter ID is one of the best things we’ve done to ensure that the votes cast are accurate. I’m concerned with mail-in ballots. We’ve had absentee ballots for a long time but never the volume of mail-in ballots that we will have during this general election. We need to make absentee ballots as secure and accurate as in-person voting.

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?

There have been previous attempts to solve this problem but we must solve it once and for all. We must find the money, without raising taxes, to provide reliable internet access to everyone in the state. We need to work closely with broadband companies, through tax credits and incentives, to encourage their continued investment in West Virginia and our citizens.

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?

Our children need to be in school experiencing face-to-face learning. Ensuring everyone’s safety will require participation from families, educators, staff, and the community at large and must include temperature checks, providing PPEs, and asking everyone to notify schools if they travel out of the area. These safeguards will keep everyone healthy and let us get back to educating our children.

15. What experience, training or education do you have that would make you an effective state legislator?

I was a Delegate for eight years and have a proven track record of working with both parties, state agencies, and the federal government to pass legislation that benefits our citizens and businesses. I have over 20 years of sales experience, working with people from all walks of life, which helps me approach the legislative process with an open mind.

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