Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

An Honest Look at the State of the State ; West Virginia Must Build upon Facts, Not False Promises

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

An Honest Look at the State of the State ; West Virginia Must Build upon Facts, Not False Promises

Article excerpt

One year ago, I announced my candidacy for the office of governor of West Virginia. Before I did so, my wife, Amy, and I discussed the impact it would have on our family and our respective careers. We made the decision that it would all be worth it to be able to tell our two sons that we did everything we could possibly do to make sure West Virginia would be a place where they could and would want to stay.

We gave it our all. Despite the hard work and the humbling generosity of thousands of people across West Virginia, we came up short this time.

In the year since, I have become more troubled about West Virginias future. West Virginia now has an enormous and simultaneous deficit in financial and social capital. This has led to anger, despair, distorted thinking and self-destructive behavior.

The epidemic of opioid abuse is but one example. Many West Virginians see no reason to hope. People are leaving our state in droves, and many who are still here are hurting. There is a massive hole in our budget, but our needs have not decreased.

A sense of community, belonging, empathy, shared experiences, networks of school friends and all those things that allow a society to function are fading.

Community schools, local main street businesses, civic clubs, newspapers and even churches are weakening and disappearing. So too are workplaces where we belonged and pensions were guaranteed.

The solution posed by our current political leaders is, as George Will recently put it, to Make America 1953 Again.

They promise to bring back coal and overseas jobs despite harsh economic realities. They promise to build walls to keep others out, with no recognition of the contributions immigrants have made to our state and our nation. Such promises are corrosive.

I have not lost my abiding faith and belief in my fellow West Virginians. We are a people of strong faith and character. …

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