House of Delegates, 3rd Delegate District Weelunk Staff November 4, 2018 Editor’s note: The same five questions were distributed to the candidates running for this particular office. Earlier in the fall, Weelunk solicited questions from you, our readers. Those questions are reflected here in this story. Candidates were invited to offer their answers for publication free of charge. The candidates are presented in the order of ballot position in their respective district. Numerous efforts were made via campaign websites, social media profiles and publicly available contact information and phone numbers to solicit each candidate’s participation. FOR HOUSE of DELEGATES (3rd Delegate District) Dalton Haas (R) What prompted you to run for office/re-election? The reason I’m running for election is because this is one way I’m giving back to my community and state, by working diligently to continue making West Virginia a place where our citizens want to stay and a place where people want to come. DALTON HAAS What do you believe to be the most important issues in your race? The biggest challenges facing West Virginia is the opioid crisis and our judicial system. We also are facing the problems of PEIA, jobs and opportunity in our state and our crumbling infrastructure. All of which I will be working to fix. If elected, how will you improve the economy of the Northern Panhandle? By working to create a business-friendly environment for businesses to do business will help promote jobs and opportunity. Also, by fixing our infrastructure and education, we will make our state more appealing for businesses and people. What is the most important message you hope to get across to the voters? The most important message to the voters is that I am a fresh face for West Virginia with new and innovative ideas that will help promote business, jobs and opportunity, fix and fund our education system, and make sure that the Northern Panhandle is not forgotten. How will you work to move West Virginia forward? I will work to move West Virginia forward by creating opportunity for our citizens and our young people getting out of college so that they stay here, while also making our state the place where people want to come and start a family. Erikka Storch (R) What prompted you to run for office/re-election? So I initially filed to run in 2010 to try to make an impact because I saw the challenges created within the state for small businesses. Additionally, I had children (13, 10 and 5 at the time), that I wanted to keep in state. Now I have found some success within serving the state and district. I enjoy serving the people of West Virginia and especially Ohio County. ERIKKA STORCH What do you believe to be the most important issues in your race? The roads are definitely a big topic of conversation. My biggest concern is the construction that will be starting on I-70 and making sure the community realizes the impact this will have on their day-to-day lives, businesses and any emergency they may face. I have been working diligently to keep the lines of communication open with DOH and in particular, the Cabinet Secretary, to make sure we are informed. Another issue we are facing as a state and region deals with the opioid crisis and the number of displaced children. I frequently am dealing with families struggling with grandparents raising their grandchildren or others looking for resources for these largely unchartered waters. If elected, how will you improve the economy of the Northern Panhandle? I believe it is the role of government to not improve the economy but rather to remove barriers to let the job creators create jobs. We are in a unique position with the developments in Pennsylvania and those proposed in Ohio, to maximize this as a real opportunity. We need to remove barriers so that we can capitalize on downstream production and encourage entrepreneurship. What is the most important message you hope to get across to the voters? If they choose to return me, I will continue to work hard to make sure they have a strong voice, fighting for them in Charleston. How will you work to move West Virginia forward? I will continue to be the voice of the 3rd District, diligently working to connect people to agencies, departments and information they need while always remembering who my boss is, the people of the Ohio County. I appreciate the support that I have received in the past and ask for your vote. Shawn Fluharty (D) What prompted you to run for office/re-election? After years of watching my peers flee the state while our state legislature continued to be bought and sold to the highest bidder, I decided to run for House of Delegates. Since that time, I have seen firsthand how corrupt Charleston is and how the Northern Panhandle is the forgotten land. I’ve been extremely vocal as a legislator. I don’t shy away from any group or any topic, especially when I know it directly impacts my constituents here in Ohio County. SHAWN FLUHARTY What do you believe to be the most important issues in your race? I think the Northern Panhandle has seen our infrastructure crumble at a higher rate than the rest of the state due to being the epicenter of oil and gas drilling activity, yet we have received no assurances from Governor Justice that our area will receive any extra attention. Meanwhile, the shirt on your back is taxed at a higher rate than the minerals under the ground. Let that sink in for a second. We get a disproportionate amount of the drilling activity and the large trucks that come with it, yet we’ve done nothing to ask these companies to properly take care of our infrastructure or hold them accountable. We were promised the No. 1 project in the state with the recent road bond; however, Governor Justice pulled the plug on it when the project bid came in $100 million over projections. We need to get to the bottom as to why this was improperly handled because we are reaching a point where our people are going to be at risk on the roads. It’s unacceptable. If elected, how will you improve the economy of the Northern Panhandle? This past session, I championed and our legislature passed sports betting legislation that will greatly impact the Northern Panhandle. Our state is set to gain millions in revenue and upwards of 700 jobs, all without raising a single tax on our people. For one of the first times in recent memory, West Virginia was out in front on an issue instead of following from behind. When I was in law school, I studied what was known as the PASPA Act and believed it was clearly unconstitutional. Fast forward a few years and New Jersey decided to challenge the constitutionality of PASPA. I knew that if the Supreme Court ruled correctly, there would be a 50-state race to pass legislation. Fortunately for us, we jumped on the opportunity and became one of the first states in the nation to get it done. In order to participate, you must be located within the state borders either at somewhere like the Wheeling Downs or on your mobile app. This means tourism in the Northern Panhandle will increase tremendously with large populations located just outside our borders in states where they have no such legislation. We have been recognized nationally for our efforts, and I am proud to have been the original legislator to bring forward the legislation and to have the opportunity to visit other states to show them how West Virginia became the model state going forward. The single most important piece of legislation for our future that I have introduced is my “Stay in the State Act,” which aims to keep our young people here instead of allowing them to continue to leave at one of the highest rates in the country. Currently, West Virginia leads the country in defaults on student loans. This has a drastic negative impact on our economy. Young people are not buying homes or starting families, compared to previous generations, due to being burdened with student loans. The “Stay in the State Act” would allow for employers to receive tax credits for helping pay down their employees’ student loans. It’s a win-win for small businesses and their employees. As a result, I hope to make that decision to leave our state a much harder one. What is the most important message you hope to get across to the voters? After years of knocking on doors in Ohio County, if there’s one thing that stands out, it’s that my constituents want someone to just be real with them. They want authenticity. They care more about the person than they do the party. Since I’ve been in Charleston, I have not hesitated one bit to do what I believe is right. When Big Pharma dumped millions of pills in our state, making billions of dollars, costing the lives of West Virginians and getting countless others addicted, I went on the House floor and called them out by name. As a result, the Speaker of the House shut me down, and my microphone was turned off. That shows you just how powerful Big Pharma is in our state and how willing politicians are to cower in fear of those that control them. I am not that type of person. I do what I believe is right, and I fight for the Northern Panhandle. Period. I don’t need to look at poll numbers before I reach a position. I take each issue individually, research them and get the facts. I talk to my constituents and hear them out, even if we don’t agree with each other. That’s how it should be with your representatives. There are many people who may not agree with me on every issue but still support me because they know I’m willing to listen, and I won’t say just want they want to hear. How will you work to move West Virginia forward? For years our state has been plagued by the same problem: politicians in Charleston, regardless of party, being purchased. When I first argued against forced pooling (the stealing of your private property) during my very first legislative session, I asked, “who was pulling the strings down here” to the shock of many of my colleagues. How dare you call out the lobbyists? That’s when I knew I was in for a fight and that I was different. If something is a good idea, it’s a good idea. I don’t understand why people on both sides of the aisle have a hard time being complimentary of those on the other side. Shouldn’t improving our state be the end goal for all of us? I’d like to think so, unfortunately, Charleston looks more like Washington, D.C., with every passing day. If we’re going to move our state forward, we must first recognize that we have to prepare for the future instead of simply doubling-down on our past. Year after year we hear the same things yet our economy has yet to be truly diversified so that it is more competitive in today’s economy. We need to truly invest in our people again. This means preparing for an ever-changing economy and doing what we can to retain and attract people to our state. 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