Pethtel And Anderson Face Off In House Race
(Editor’s Note: The Wetzel Chronicle mailed questions to all political candidates in races of local significance. Their responses will be printed in the April 28 and May 5 editions of the Wetzel Chronicle in a simple question and answer format.)
Incumbent Dave Pethtel is being challenged by Ronald Anderson for the Fifth District seat to the House of Delegates. Both are Democrats.
Anderson is a Democrat candidate for House of Delegates. He’s 59 years old and a life-long resident of Wetzel County. He’s married to Sally Bolen, a former resident of Tyler County. Ronald is the grandfather of nine. He is a 40-year member of United Mine Workers, retired. He also ran a successful business for 18 years. Ronald is a member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Pine Grove. He is a member of the Moose, Eagles, AF & Am No. 31, Scottish Rite, and SAL American Legion Post No. 81.
Pethtel, 59, graduated from Hundred High School, received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Glenville State College and has a Master of Arts Degree plus 45 credit hours from West Virginia University. He has been employed as a teacher in the Wetzel County School system for 37 years.
He has been married to Mary Ann Jones for 35 years and they have two sons: Kevin, a teacher at Clay-Battelle Middle-Senior High School and is a Women’s College Basketball official, who resides in Fairmont with his wife, Stephanie; his younger son, Eric is employed by Mylan Pharmaceuticals and resides in Morgantown.
He is seeking re-election to the West Virginia House of Delegates, 5th District, in the Democratic Primary to be held on May 11th.
Pethtel is a member of the West Virginia Education Association; Wetzel County Education Association; Littleton Lodge # 131 AF & AM; Loyal Order of Moose; Wetzel County Farm Bureau; National Rifle Association, Clay-Battelle Health Center Board of Directors; Community Sportsman’s Club; and Rush Run United Methodist Church.
What can you do, through the delegate’s position, to help stimulate our economy, create more jobs, and attract new business to the area?
Anderson: In order to stimulate our economy and attract new business which in turn creates jobs, I feel that we must first take a look at our county and areas that would be able to be purchased for development. After finding the answer to these questions, it would take working together with the governor, right down to our state and local government to work and pursue inquires of interest to locate in West Virginia. We must share our information so everyone is aware of all inquires. I would also promote our work force here in West Virginia as one of our most valuable assets because West Virginians are noted for their hard work and dedication to our state, our families, and our work. It has always fascinated me and made me think-with rail, roads, and river-why there has not been more industry in Wetzel County. Once industry begins to locate here we need to work with the companies to help them from the first building block to the finish and not start taxing and demanding just because someone has decided to locate in our area.
Pethtel: As a member of the House of Delegates, I have voted to lower the tax burden on businesses. We continue to do so in the face of challenging budgetary times. The business franchise tax is being reduced annually and will be potentially eliminated by 2015. Phased reductions will reduce the corporate net income tax to 6.5 percent by 2014.
I cast my vote to help pass the following bills during this past session: Local labor for construction jobs (HB 4359) requires local workers (within 50 miles) be hired for construction projects costing over $500,000; Energy rate flexibility (SB 656) allows the PSC to negotiate more flexible rates and payment plans for energy-intensive industries to help attract manufacturing; Intermediate Business Courts (HB 4352) creates new courts, within the existing system, to handle disputes between businesses to reduce the caseload in existing courts. The adoption of this model could help West Virginia attract new businesses as well as offer our existing corporations a speedier, more predictable forum for settling business-to-business disputes.
I will continue to work with the Wetzel County School system and West Virginia Northern Community College to address training needs for current and upcoming positions in the natural gas and coal industries.
What do you see as the biggest issue with the increased natural resource activity in Wetzel County and what can you do to alleviate it?
Anderson: One of the biggest issues on increased Natural Resource activity is making sure that counties in which all the activity is taking place that something is gained by the counties now and in the future. The areas that are involved must be protected and done environmentally sound so as to not destroy our ground, our water supplies, and scenery. Property owners must have a say on their land even though a person may not own the mineral rights beneath their ground. My belief is that this can be accomplished as long as there is an open and transparent dialogue between land owners and developers. Another thing to remember is even though the activity may be far from you, we need to help the people who are affected the same as if it was in your own backyard.
Pethtel: I support further development of natural gas and coal in Wetzel County and West Virginia. This will allow us to increase our tax base, provide jobs for our citizens and needed services for our citizens.
However, the Legislature continues to examine how to ensure a fair and balanced approach-we must provide guidelines for the relationship between oil and gas extractors and the owners of surface rights and mineral interests, and for the protection of the environment.
Drilling the Marcellus formation has become economically viable because of the development of new technologies and drilling techniques. However, this new process must be done in a way to assure the interests of the surface owners as well as the environment are protected. There must be safeguards to take into account issues such as the deeds that reflect mineral ownership, landowner notification, the valuation of timber, the condition of secondary roads, and the supervision of contractors.
The House and Senate Judiciary Committees have established a special joint subcommittee to study these impacts during this year’s interim meetings and the state DEP is conducting a series of meetings to assess the state’s regulatory program. Current laws and regulations do not contemplate this new type of well operation.
I strongly support a fair and balanced regulatory approach that facilitates development of Marcellus wells to maximize the creation of much needed jobs and revenue for the state.
What would you identify as your top priority and how, specifically, will you work to achieve it?
Anderson: It is not my top priority-it is the people of Wetzel County as to what their top priorities are. This is where our government is letting us down. All issues whether big or small mean something to the person wanting help.
All along my campaign to be your House of Delegates representative my question has been, “Is there anything on your mind that you would like to see happen in Wetzel County?” The answers have been many, but one that keeps coming up is jobs. We must create jobs for our local people because they are the ones that buy a new car at our local dealership, shop for groceries at our local stores, buy a home and pay taxes in our county. This gets back to the earlier question, we must promote our work force and if they are working, it will stimulate our economy.
Along with the above I also will promote Town Hall Meetings to discuss the direction we want Wetzel County to go. I am a retired coal miner not looking for how many terms I can get, but to see how closely I can become a voice for Wetzel Countians.
Pethtel: My top priority has always been to represent the people of the 5th Delegate District in a fair and balanced manner, taking into consideration their values and concerns when voting on legislation.
I have worked to give the people of this district excellent constituent service by answering their questions and concerns in a timely, truthful, and respectful manner.
Various groups, representing people, have chosen to endorse me for this primary election. These groups represent the interests of labor, business, education, law enforcement, health care providers, agriculture, the unborn, and sportsmen. I am proud of these endorsements, as I have worked to earn the respect of people during my years of service in the legislature. People know they can sit down with me and discuss their issues, whereby, I can make a better informed and intelligent decision.
Once again, I respectfully ask for your vote and continued support on May 11.