Oct. 6—MORGANTOWN — The candidates vying to win the House of Delegates 82nd District seat, representing part of Monongalia County, met with The Dominion Post Editorial Board to answer some questions on the issues.
Republican Debbie Warner and Democrat Katie Fallon are seeking the seat. House redistricting created 100 single-member districts. None of the four Mon County incumbents aiming to return to the House reside in the 82nd.
Fallon is a mother of three, ages 4-10, a writer, educator and author of four books, who's taught writing at several universities, including WVU, she said. Her family co-owns a small business employing 120 people.
She is also the founder and director of a nonprofit and volunteer market manager for the Cheat Lake farmers market. "I love my family, I love our community and I love our state, " she said. "I want to work to improve the quality of life here for all of us, " and inspire her kids to stay and work here.
Warner is a mother of four, all adults, wife of Secretary of State Mac Warner, a Realtor and community volunteer. "I love the state of West Virginia, " she said. "Military service took us away for a while and it's good to be back.
She said, "Economic development is essential to the future growth and prosperity of West Virginia." The state has made great strides in becoming more business-friendly but there's more to do, including in the areas of infrastructure, education—including vocational /technical—and diversifying the economy.
They fielded a question on their views of the rival tax-relief plans: the Senate's plan to eliminate the tax on business inventory, equipment and machinery, and the vehicle property tax—if Amendment 2 is approved by the voters—and the House's and governor's plan to cut the personal income tax.
Warner said, "I don't know that we could do both." The current tax structure is a little bit of an impediment to bringing development to West Virginia.
But if Amendment 2 passes and the Legislature enacts the Senate plan, it needs to be done in a fiscally responsible manner, she said. Counties need to be made whole and local government services and schools need to be funded.
Fallon said, "Amendment 2 is problematic if it passes." Monongalia County needs resources for infrastructure, schools and so on, and social services. "It seems like it's a bit of an overreach by the state Legislature."
And the House plan, she said, favors higher-income residents. She'd like to see relief for lower-and middle-income residents.
They took a question on how they would spend the spendable portion of the budget surplus—$1.3 billion last fiscal year and still growing.
Fallon said it should go to fix the roads—they could spend the whole surplus and not get them all fixed—along with broadband infrastructure ; the pandemic demonstrated the need for full broadband connection.
She'd also favor returning some money to taxpayers in the form of a one-time payout ; it wouldn't be a lot but maybe enough for some groceries or an electric bill.
Warner said it should be invested in hard-dollar assets—roads, schools, broadband. "That's all part of economic development."
An example of a good local investment, she said, would be the planned Harmony Grove interchange to connect the Morgantown Industrial Park to I-79.
In the wake of the abortion law passed during the special session, they were asked what they would do to help mothers.
Warner said there are already many services in place—such as WIC and Head Start—and charities, churches and nonprofits to provide them. "Motherhood's a blessing and I think mothers should be celebrated."
As far as what the government should do, she said it should look into incentivizing large companies to provide in-house daycare, and ensure better broadband so moms can work from home.
Fallon agreed that broadband is excellent investment for moms to work, and to provide them connections to support systems and medical providers.
There should be more public education investment, such as expanding pre-K to 3-year-olds, and filling the child care deserts by ensuring affordable care and better pay for the staffs. There could also be employer rebates and incentives for child care.
TWEET David Beard @dbeardtdp EMAIL dbeard @dominionpost.com