<h1>On Wednesday, Apr. 18, Greenbrier Valley Theatre and the Greater Greenbrier Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted a second Meet the Candidates forum, this week for candidates running for the State Senate and House of Delegates.<\/h1>\r\nScott Canterbury was moderator, and in attendance were Tyler Hylton, Republican; Ander Utterback, Republican; Denny Canterbury, Republican; and Steve Malcomb, Republican; all candidates for the House of Delegates, as well as Cindy Lavender Bowe, Democrat; Isaiah Stanley, Democrat; Roger Vannoy, Democrat; and Jeff Campbell, Democrat; all also running for the House of Delegates. Candidates for the State Senate are incumbent Stephen Baldwin, Democrat; Dan Hill, Republican; and George \u201cBoogie\u201d Ambler, Republican. Questions asked during the forum were submitted by the community.\r\n\r\nThe first question presented was, \u201cWhat qualifications do you have that will enable you to successfully represent your constituents if elected?\u201d\r\n\r\nHill (Senate-R): \u201cI have worked very hard in the building business, and I feel like with my knowledge of all of the state agencies across the state that I\u2019ve worked on that I have the ability and the knowledge to know what you do when you get down there... I will work very hard down there to bring all of the issues that come before my desk, and try to make an educated decision on it.\u201d\r\n\r\nAmbler (Senate-R): \u201cFor 20 years I worked in construction, so I know the good times when the jobs were there and I know the unemployment line... I\u2019ve been in the education system, and I think I\u2019ve seen the education system at its best and even at its worst... I also have the ability to communicate and get other people to see things my way... Politics is all about compromise.\u201d\r\n\r\nBaldwin (Senate-D): \u201cThe thing that I think I understand that makes me a little bit different down in Charleston is that I\u2019m not there for me. It\u2019s not about me, it\u2019s about you, it\u2019s about West Virginia... trust and relationships is the way to get things done, and that\u2019s what matters.\u201d\r\n\r\nHylton (House-R): \u201cI did go to school for Political Science, it\u2019s what I went to WVU for, and the reason I did that is because I truly have a passion for politics. This is what I\u2019ve always been interested in, and it\u2019s the only way I believe that you can effectively change something is to be involved in politics.\u201d\r\n\r\nBowe (House-D): \u201cAs a former middle school teacher, and I have a teenager at home, I think I\u2019m pretty equipped at wrangling knuckleheads. Seriously, I\u2019m a hard worker, I\u2019m passionate, I am passionate about West Virginia and the people. The only reason that I\u2019m running is to be a voice for those people, the people that no one else is fighting for. Not the millionaires, not the out-of-state corporations, not special interests. I will not be beholden to anyone but you.\u201d\r\n\r\nUtterback (House-R): \u201cThere\u2019s a lot of different things that I\u2019ve done, but I can\u2019t really harp on what I\u2019ve necessarily accomplished that would make a difference. It\u2019s got to be about listening to the people, it\u2019s your decision. I know who I want to vote for, but then that\u2019s what you all are here for, is to find out what you\u2019re interested in, whether you agree with these people and whether things are on your path.\u201d\r\n\r\nStanley (House-D): \u201cI have participated in many leadership roles at Greenbrier West, where I go to high school, I\u2019m the treasurer of our chapter of Future Business Leaders of America, I am a member of RAISE... I am part of the theatre group... I was formerly part of the debate club at Greenbrier West, formerly part of student council... I try to get in as much as I can do to make a difference.\u201d\r\n\r\nVannoy (House-D): \u201cI\u2019m a registered nurse... and that gives me a unique perspective. We talk about cutting Medicaid dollars, but that affects a lot of people you don\u2019t think of... I\u2019m also a Marine veteran, and that gives me a unique perspective of what veteran\u2019s go through.\u201d\r\n\r\nCanterbury (House-R): \u201cI am a farmer, and that makes me a business person. I\u2019m used to making dollar and cent decisions. I try to make more than 51 percent of them correctly. I try to stay in the black instead of the red. If someone comes to me and mentions something, I try to listen... That\u2019s what legislature is all about, listening to the people and doing what they\u2019re expecting from you.\u201d\r\n\r\nCampbell (House-D): \u201cIt\u2019s not often that I get to say this, but of the eight candidates running for the 42nd District, I\u2019m the only one that has any experience in the state legislature, and that\u2019s one year... Being able to serve through one session I think does give me a unique perspective in what goes on at the state legislature. I am a democrat, however, I did introduce six bills this past session that had bipartisan support.\u201d\r\n\r\nMalcomb (House-R): \u201cI ran a business in the Snowshoe area... I have bookkeeping, banking, and a law enforcement experience... Everybody says they want to listen, well, I want to listen to you people, but I will try to get action done and try to get results for your fears and concerns... I assure you and promise you from the deepest part of my heart that I will go to Charleston and try to represent you in the best honorable way I can do it.\u201d\r\n\r\nQuestion two was, \u201cWhat new sources of revenue would you consider to be the best way to make West Virginia more solvent?\u201d\r\n\r\nMalcomb (House-R): \u201cI think the occupancy tax should be used more than what it\u2019s being used for now to help the people of West Virginia. I think maybe we need to study things and investigate just where some of our money is going. We might not need any more revenue.\u201d\r\n\r\nCampbell (House-D): \u201cI think we have to tax a serious look at the severance tax in this state. We are giving away our natural resources to out-of-state corporations and they continue to get rich and fat off the backs of West Virginians... We need to ask our leadership in the House and the Senate why they have not ran these bills.\u201d\r\n\r\nCanterbury (House-R): \u201cI think that [as far as raising] severance tax on gas and coal, no, I don\u2019t think that will fix the budget. Severance revenues are down since 2008... Why? West Virginian coal competes with cheaper Midwestern and foreign coal...\u00a0 A higher severance tax on coal would price it out of the market.\u201d\r\n\r\nVannoy (House-D): \u201cThe opioid crisis is killing our people, it\u2019s costing us money. The first thing that I would do is legalize recreational marijuana. In Nevada in the first six months from July to December 2017, they got $30 million in extra sales taxes... People will come here to spend their money, and that\u2019s going to affect more than just the sales taxes, that going to bring in dollars to our hotels, to our restaurants. It will be a boom for our state.\u201d\r\n\r\nStanley (House-D): \u201cI like the answers from Campbell and Vannoy, those are two things that we need to focus on. I think legalizing marijuana would be great... There is another side of marijuana, hemp, which can be used to make paper, plastic, fuel, clothes... It would bring a vast source of income to the state.\u201d\r\n\r\nUtterback (House-R): \u201cIndustry is a big thing. We have enough places, especially on the western end, enough room to put some manufacturing out there... I\u2019m not a big fan of the medical marijuana. If we legalize it and someone comes from Pittsburgh and buys it and goes home, they cross the line with drugs, and it\u2019s illegal in\u00a0 Pennsylvania, so they can\u2019t do that...\u00a0 However, the maintenance and the maintaining and constructing of this pipeline is a great thing for the area.\u201d\r\n\r\nBowe (House-D): \u201cI believe we need to start with shifting the burden from the working families to the corporations. That means increasing severance taxes on extraction industries, and increasing the corporate tax which was decreased several years ago. It did not bring the jobs that we were promised it would bring... We are an agricultural area. Elsewhere in the state we have the side effect of mountaintop removals, and that\u2019s the perfect place to grow cannabis and hemp. I think that could be a brand new source of revenue for our state.\u201d\r\n\r\nHylton (House-R): \u201cWe do need to raise the severance tax, it was lowered and the natural gas industry has only grown, and we\u2019re missing out on that money. Ending the opioid epidemic itself is going to free up about $8.8 billion dollars... We need to try to cut spending where we can, extravagant expenses are for states that are endowed, and we definitely are not. We need to be reducing the tax breaks that we have on corporations... I believe right now we are missing out on $5 billion in revenue that\u2019s in tax breaks for corporations. I do support the legalization of recreational marijuana. I believe it\u2019s coming nationally very soon, and we have to get ahead of the curve.\u201d\r\n\r\nBaldwin (Senate-D): \u201cI just want to respond to a couple of statements that have been made here, the severance tax was cut by the West Virginia legislature in 2016... I cosponsored a bill this past year to increase it, didn\u2019t go anywhere. Not going to go anywhere with Mitch Carmichael leading the Senate. Not going to happen. Some bills that we did pass that are going to increase revenue is the road bond... that\u2019s going to have a huge economic impact on our revenue... I agree with Hylton, that we have not fully explored right-sizing government at all. I do think we can free up additional revenue by right-sizing Charleston.\u201d\r\n\r\nAmbler (Senate-R): \u201cI\u2019m in agreement that business creates jobs, jobs create income, income creates sales tax and money being turned over... The idea that the Department of Commerce is trying to get places ready so that we can be in the mix when companies are coming in to bring those jobs is very important... I believe that hemp is certainly a good way of doing it... There are ways of generating some taxes that will benefit the state of West Virginia. But you have to be extremely careful about what the unintended consequence of what the tax does... If the tax drives out the business, then what did we accomplish?\u201d\r\n\r\nHill (Senate-R): \u201cI am totally against legalizing recreation marijuana. I think that it will bring very little money to the state, farmers growing marijuana. Once you get it out of the underground situation, you aren\u2019t going to be making any money... Now, the medical marijuana I am ok with as long as they can\u2019t smoke it. If they can smoke it, they will go to the doctor and get a prescription, and next thing you know, everybody is going to be doing that... As far as adding revenue, there\u2019s been talk about adding a couple of cents onto natural gas that\u2019s going to be piped out of the state. When you do that, when you make natural gas not competitive with other states, you will lose the business that could be downstream from natural gas... Right now I don\u2019t think we need any more taxes... When you tax and overtax, you\u2019re going to push people away.\u201d\r\n\r\nQuestion three was, \u201cWhat long term funding sources for PEIA would you support?\u201d\r\n\r\nHill (Senate-R): \u201cI think we need to analyze the PEIA system and try to figure out what all we can do... [Recipients of PEIA] need to put their fair share in the pot and they need to do the things that the commission recommended they do. That\u2019s to lower health costs. We need to get that under control, as well...You have consequences when you raise taxes... Yes, I want to raise the necessary funds, but there are funds there already that you can move over to take care of this problem.\u201d\r\n\r\nAmbler (Senate-R): \u201cI wish that I had an answer to that question 40 days ago, then we wouldn\u2019t be dealing with it right now. I have full faith in what the commission is looking at. They are taking and breaking down PEIA to a degree to see where we can go... Obviously any time there\u2019s an increase it hurts. If we ask for privatization I don\u2019t quite think that\u2019s the way to go... With employee contributions, as part of any organization, we do have to contribute some of our own money to that. I would like to see the plan a little more stable, and the PEIA board be a little more responsible.\u201d\r\n\r\nBaldwin (Senate-D): \u201cI\u2019ll give you a specific answer. Raise the natural gas severance tax. Senator Ojeda and I had a bill to do that, but where do you think it went? Nowhere. Until we get good reasonable people in office, who are willing to make tough decisions for the good of the state, we\u2019re not going to come up with reasonable solutions. We\u2019ll have a repeat of what\u2019s happened over the past several years, over and over again. It\u2019s not about party, it\u2019s about reasonable people and balance within the legislature... One of the main discoveries that the PEIA task force has made thus far is that prescription drug prices are really driving the cost of PEIA at this point. Back to the drug companies again, and needing to stand up and make a strong statement because that is the primary driving factor.\u201d\r\n\r\nMalcomb (House-R): \u201cPrescriptions are outrageous. There\u2019s places and ways that PEIA could check it out. For example, my son-in-law was paying $1,000 per month for insulin, there\u2019s a place he has now that\u2019s $10 per month. PEIA needs investigated. As far as marijuana goes, I have yet, after thousands of overdoses I\u2019ve seen, to see anyone overdosing on marijuana... I\u2019ve got the time to study this thing out.\u201d\r\n\r\nCampbell (House-D): \u201cI was the lead sponsor of a bill in the legislature this past session, House Bill 4605. What is does, is we have 12 and a half million acres of land in this state that is owned by out-of-state corporations, unoccupied land. They pay a fraction of the tax that other people pay for their property here in the state. What this bill would have done, or what it will do if I get back to introduce it again, will add a $4 per acre tax to that land. It would have raised $50 million dollars to all be dedicated to PEIA.\u201d\r\n\r\nCanterbury (House-R): \u201cOur healthcare costs are skyrocketing for everybody, and Obamacare has made it worse. PEIA is expensive, and private health insurance is worse... We need to look at market-based solutions... As we go forward and our severance tax money increases as we get more production in our gas, dedicate this money to that.\u201d\r\n\r\nVannoy (House-D): \u201cOverall, we just need more dollars in West Virginia... West Virginia has believed in trickledown economics for long enough... It\u2019s time to put some of the taxes back on the corporations that we took away. The corporate net income tax we dropped from 9 to six and a half percent. If I\u2019m not mistaken, we got rid of the business franchise tax. Put those two taxes back and it\u2019s $300 million.\u201d\r\n\r\nStanley (House-D): \u201cI\u2019ve mentioned marijuana, the severance tax, and hemp, those are great ideas... We keep giving tax breaks to the rich, hoping that they will create jobs for the poor. That is not what we need to do. We need to tax based on income, and help out the lower classes... The PEIA task force is not a good way to get anything done, especially when Mitch Carmichael is on the task force.\u201d\r\n\r\nUtterback (House-R): \u201cThis is a vicious cycle, because if we raise the tax we shoot ourselves in the foot... I love Campbell\u2019s bill, I support that 100 percent right now... There\u2019s one legal thing we can do, soybeans. If anyone\u2019s got a plastic bottle, soybeans helped make that... It\u2019s a good alternative. Raising the taxes on the severance is a great way to start anything, but healthcare prescriptions cost so much... I just really like Campbell\u2019s idea.\u201d\r\n\r\nBowe (House-D): \u201cI\u2019d like to see what the PEIA task force comes up with and react accordingly, but I want to make this clear, I think that any long term solution to funding PEIA has to be at the benefit of the public employees and not the insurance industries. For too long West Virginia legislators have been in the pockets of big business, and we\u2019ve got to change that... We can increase some of these taxes that aren\u2019t going to drive business away.\u201d\r\n\r\nHylton (House-R): \u201cRaise the severance tax, end the opioid epidemic, cut spending where we can, I think that\u2019s a big one. We\u2019ve got to take a long look at the budget and see where we can shred off the pennies and the dollars. It\u2019s all going to really add up. Again, we have to start looking at things holistically. We can\u2019t take one problem at a time, we need to start bring revenue in and putting that aside for when a problem does arise.\u201d\r\n\r\nQuestion four was, \u201cCan you explain why you identify with the political party you have affiliated yourself with? Please no mention of the opposing party in your answer.\r\n\r\nHylton (House-R): \u201cI am a republican, I identify with that party because I believe it best fits me. But, I do want to say, I\u2019m not a party politician... I wouldn\u2019t expect myself to always vote on party lines. If you send me to Charleston, I\u2019m not going to pander to the republican party... I\u2019m here to be a West Virginian.\u201d\r\n\r\nBowe (House-D): \u201cI identify with the democratic party because to me, the democratic party has always been the party that fights for working families. That is at the core of who I am. The democratic party is also the party, I believe, that works for progress... It\u2019s about the future and thinking forward.\u201d\r\n\r\nUtterback (House-R): \u201cI identify with the republican party because I didn\u2019t know any better. Just kidding, I used to listen to everybody just talk, and they had things that I followed and I believed in. I believe especially in the birth, I don\u2019t like abortion... Like Hylton, I cross the party lines... That\u2019s just who I identify with.\u201d\r\n\r\nStanley (House-D): \u201cI identify as a democrat because a majority of my ideas align with the democratic party, and I believe that they are the people to help out the working people... the Democratic party is looking to the future and to help their citizens out, and I believe it\u2019s the best party.\u201d\r\n\r\nVannoy (House-D): \u201cI\u2019m a democrat because it\u2019s the party that helps people. They\u2019re the party that brought you social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and civil rights. If you\u2019re a working-class person it\u2019s hard for me to understand why you wouldn\u2019t belong to the democratic party.\u201d\r\n\r\nCanterbury (House-R): \u201cI associate with the republican party, and the reason I do that, is I believe that people is supposed to work for a living and the republican party is where you find the people creating jobs.\u201d\r\n\r\nCampbell (House-D): \u201cI associate with the democratic party because it is the party of middle class working people. It\u2019s the party of FDR and Truman and JFK, some of the greatest presidents... I\u2019m also endorsed by labor... organizations that identify with middle class working people.\u201d\r\n\r\nMalcomb (House-R): \u201cI was democrat of the year in 2010... the democrats now are not a party for the people. The republicans are.\u201d\r\n\r\nBaldwin (Senate-D): \u201c I\u2019m a democrat because Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, not an elephant. He was also a carpenter, so he came from a Union family. As Vannoy said, the democratic party is one of the working people. That\u2019s why identify with them. However, I\u2019m not a partisan, and don\u2019t vote on party lines.\u201d\r\n\r\nAmbler (Senate-R): \u201cI identify with the republican party because throughout history, when you look back, we have made an emphasis that if a man can fish he feeds himself, if you keep giving it to him every day he gets more and more dependent on you. I believe we push the independence of an individual to do the best that he can.\u201d\r\n\r\nHill (Senate-R): \u201cI was born into a republican family... I\u2019m not a hard right republican. I voted for Trump twice... most of his things aren\u2019t hard right. He\u2019s interested in infrastructure building and I am too.\u201d\r\n\r\nQuestion four, \u201cWhat is your feeling and position on imminent domain and the pipeline going through our districts?\u201d\r\n\r\nAmbler (Senate-R): \u201cImminent domain is used to better the general public... and I support that... Now, imminent domain must not be confused with your personal rights being taken from you... It\u2019s a federal tool, and as a result of that I support the constitution of the United States.\u201d\r\n\r\nHill (Senate-R): \u201cI\u2019m on the Fayette County Board of Zoning Appeals, we refused to ok the pipeline through our portion of Fayette County... we expect to lose that battle because of this law... It is for the betterment and the good of the people, but sometimes when they try to shove something down your throat, it\u2019s hard to swallow.\u201d\r\n\r\nBaldwin (Senate-D): \u201cIf there is a good public use for imminent domain, that\u2019s why it\u2019s in the U.S. law. Can you tell me what the good public use is, at this point? There\u2019s been talk about jobs that will be created, but they are temporary jobs and there are very few of them... We need to be able to work with communities and make the best of a bad situation.\u201d\r\n\r\nHylton (House-R): \u201cAs far as imminent domain itself, I do support it and think it\u2019s a necessary thing to have... as far as the pipeline goes, I\u2019m not a supporter of the pipeline.\u201d\r\n\r\nBowe: (House-D): \u201cImminent domain is necessary... however, in this particular instance with the MVP pipeline I don\u2019t believe it should have been applied here.\u201d\r\n\r\nUtterback (House-R): \u201cI support the pipeline. It\u2019s not going to look like some Alaskan pipeline like you see off a movie. It\u2019s gonna create some jobs, yes, they may be temporary, but that\u2019s better than nothing when you don\u2019t have a job.\u201d\r\n\r\nStanley (House-D): \u201cI think imminent domain is good if there is a good cause, of which this is not.\u201d\r\n\r\nVannoy (House-D): \u201cIt\u2019s a classic West Virginia story, big corporation runs over West Virginia working class people. I\u2019m against the pipeline.\u201d\r\n\r\nCanterbury (House-R): \u201cThe federal government used imminent domain for the right of way, and that is covered under the U.S. Constitution.\u201d\r\n\r\nCampbell (House-D): \u201cThe key is fair market value. We cannot take private citizen\u2019s land and not give them a fair price for their pipeline. Regarding the MVP pipeline, I\u2019m opposed to it, but it\u2019s going through. We have to make sure our landowners are protected and get a fair market value for the use of their land.\u201d\r\n\r\nMalcomb (House-R): \u201cMy feeling on imminent domain is, it\u2019s my property and I want to know what\u2019s going through there.\u201d\r\n\r\nQuestion five, \u201cIn view of the economic state of West Virginia, plus the opioid addiction problem and the lack of organic and holistic healing medicines, what is your position on the way the House of Delegates handled Bill 4345, the medical marijuana bill? Would you try to make a reform pro or con?\r\n\r\nEach candidate explained their support of the bill, except for Hill, who is against the smoking aspect of the medicinal marijuana but not other forms, and Utterback, who said he didn\u2019t have enough information to make a decision.\r\n\r\nAfter closing statement, the forum was dismissed.