Seven vie for gop nomination in district 16 elections herald-dispatch.com electricity electricity schoolhouse rock

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Linville, a 28-year-old IT director from Milton, said with the decline in the coal industry thanks to the so-called war on coal, diversifying the economy with new, emerging industries is crucial. He said he will propose legislation to offer tax relief to employers that can prove they do not compete with existing industries in the state.

"There’s also the ability for counties if they so choose to participate in the program and provide further relief to those businesses for things like personal property taxes, inventory or those types of things," Linville said. "What this creates is an incentive for businesses to come and create new things. It brings in a ripple effect."

Dornbos, a 34-year-old attorney for New Life Clinics from Culloden, also said he recognizes the state can’t rely solely on natural resources as it did in the past. He said he wants to ensure the state doesn’t miss out on manufacturing that seems to be growing elsewhere in the country.

"I would like to see more high-tech industries come," Dornbos said. "I think there is an opportunity there to expand with the engineering program here in Huntington at Marshall. It’s giving them a place to go once they graduate. Not everyone is going to be at the Corps of Engineers or the Division of Highways. We need to establish some private industries in engineering, biomedical engineering, because there will always be a need there."

"We need to be as pro-energy as possible, whether it’s natural gas or coal," Cannon said. "We have to stay as competitive as possible. I don’t believe we should raise the severance tax whatsoever. At a time when all we are trying to do is bring in new business, raising taxes on businesses is the last thing we should do."

"The corridor of (U.S.) 19 in Fayette County and the corridor here from Kentucky to Charleston is prime for the same thing you see in the Smokies – Gatlinburg (Tenn.) and Pigeon Forge," Davis said. "If you build it, they will come, but we don’t build it and we don’t give people incentive to come. Camden Park still gets attendance, and that tells me Cabell and Wayne counties still have opportunity for things that lead to tourism."

Miller, a 39-year-old Milton Middle School teacher from Ona, said she supports a startup tax break, but she breaks with the party when it comes to severance taxes – she is in favor of increasing them, especially for out-of-state businesses. She said bringing broadband internet statewide is one important component to bringing in new businesses, adding it will help education as well.

"One thing I’m researching into, especially in the coalfields region where there is not a lot of prosperity and jobs, is come up with a training plan (for displaced miners)," Miller said. "These are skilled laborers. Let’s look at what a region provides – whether it’s natural gas or construction on highways – and train these people."

Mandt, 54-year-old owner of Stewarts Original Hot Dogs from Huntington, said the state needs jobs that allow a person to raise a family. He said he believes in "trickle-up" economics – meaning if businesses bring jobs, the employees’ success will trickle up to improve the rest of the community.

He also said there needs to be support for more police officers and getting drug sellers out of the state. He said he would also like to create a program where those who successfully complete treatment then go into a vocational or technical program to help those in recovery continue to succeed by giving them a job.

Linville also said the exchange needs to be revamped to be a true exchange. He said the drug epidemic is the biggest challenge for his generation, and it’s not just a moral problem but a fiscal one as well. He said he supports expanding drug court because of its success both in recovery and saving the state money.

Miller said the state needs more long-term treatment options. She said she would sit down with experts in addiction, meaning those who are on the front lines of the problem, to come up with a plan to address the crisis. She also said there needs to be stronger drug trafficking laws.

Miller, who participated in the statewide teacher strike during this year’s session, said a long-term funding source for the insurance program needs to be identified. She said the state should look at reproportioning existing taxes and she also supports raising the severance tax on oil and gas to put toward PEIA, but she does not support a food or sales tax because that is just "taking from one hand and putting it in the other."

Mandt, who is also on PEIA because his wife is a teacher, said he would like to look into reapportioning existing taxes, like the soda tax that currently exclusively goes to the West Virginia University School of Medicine. He said he doesn’t have a magic solution and wants to see what the PEIA Task Force comes up with.