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NAME: Ron Stollings, MD
CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia Governor
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: stollingsforwestvirginia.com and Stollings for West Virginia on Facebook
HOME CITY: Madison
HOME COUNTY: Boone
EDUCATION: BA Biology, MS Biochemistry WVU; MD Marshall University, Residency Internal Medicine Wake Forest University.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: WV State Senate; Internal Medicine Physician.
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Staff physician and Hospitalist Boone Memorial Hospital.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Rotary (Past President and Area Representative).
ENDORSEMENTS: West Virginia Education Association, West Virginia State Medical Association, Academy of Family Physicians, Academy of Pediatrics, Several former and current State Senators.
FAMILY: daughter, Whitney; grandson, Seth
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I received a great public education, graduated from WVU and Marshall Medical School. Since 1985, I have cared for my patients and my community at large. I became involved in activities regarding rural health, education, economy, and community development. I was appointed to the University System Board of Trustees and to the Higher Education Policy Commission. I learned a lot about education, economy, and health. I served as President of State Medical Association. I was elected to State Senate where I have enjoyed a 14-year career. I believe that I am the most qualified to lead our great state forward.
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?
Repair and expand our economy after the pandemic by bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US. Use post-mine land sites and other areas that can be repurposed. Invest in broadband and improve our secondary roads, work with businesses and union shops to provide a pathway for graduates and those recovering from substance use. Rare Earth Elements can transform our economy.
2. Do you support recent weakening of EPA regulations concerning air and water quality? Why or why not?
I would oppose weakening air and water standards. WV is blessed with many rivers and we have learned that we must protect them. Many people are using our rivers for recreation, tourism and physical fitness. I see many people now kayaking and fishing. We all remember the water crisis four years ago. We don’t want to see that happen again.
3. What role do you see for state government in reversing West Virginia’s population decline?
We need to develop a curriculum for middle school students geared toward career prep in non-college bound students. Support entrepreneurialism and small business and university-based research that can result in manufacturing industries. Tweak our tax laws to attract retirees with good income. We have a unique location and great outdoor activities, but we must enhance broadband!
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?
Get our arms around the substance use disorder to prevent foster care crisis. I supported legislation to add funding to grand-families and kinship care. Legislation calls for a transition out of foster care with support and mentoring to help find a job. Provide oral health for poor adults. Invest in the first 1000 days of our children's lives.
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?
I have been involved with tax reform issues my entire career in the senate. WV’s business tax climate is 17th in country. We need people coming together instead of one-party dominating. Our problems are an educated drug-free workforce and shovel ready sites. I opposed the repeal of business and inventory tax as it would have caused a $100 million deficit.
6. Do you think the educational reform bill passed in 2019 is working/will be effective?
To obtain the "wrap around" services we must have a workforce. We should focus on career tracts that will produce nurses, social workers and counselors. Many of these functions can be done by school-based health clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers that get reimbursed by Medicaid and CHIP on a 3:1 or 9:1 federal match.
7. How would you describe efforts so far to add more support staff in the state’s schools to help children in troubled homes?
We must support and enhance the Birth to Three program in our state and families! Moneys being pushed out for the substance use crisis including federal and settlement dollars should be used for the vast array of issues caused by drugs and other substances.
8. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?
Invest in infrastructure including broadband. Provide full recovery services and reintegration into the workforce for people impacted by the substance use disorder. Support high tech jobs and entrepreneurs with incentives. We do it with large companies. We must do it with our smaller upstart companies.
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?
I have worked hard on prevention; educating the medical community about the risks of addiction; trying to eliminate the stigma of substance use; monitoring the board of pharmacy website to prevent doctor shopping; and integrate treatment into the primary care health system. Offer a full range of recovery including oral health, job training and reintegration into the workforce with community support.
10. How would you improve the state’s access to broadband internet?
Focus broadband on the middle and last mile. Future roads and other utilities should have conduit for utilities. Cooperate with business and school systems that require internet to function. The federal govt will be pushing out millions of dollars to recover from the Coronavirus and some of these moneys should be used for this type of infrastructure.