Three Are Vying For Senate Seat
Three individuals are on the ballot to represent West Virginia’s Second Senatorial District: incumbent Charles Clements, along with Democrats Carla Jones and Denny Longwell.
The Wetzel Chronicle sent each of the three a simple questionnaire, along with a request for a brief bio. Below are the responses:
Charles Clements is a 1961 graduate of Scott High School in Madison, WV and a 1966 graduate of WVU. He served two years on active duty with the US Army and an additional seven years in the reserve program. He was the owner of Clements Oil Company from 1970 until 2004. He worked at H&R Block from 2004 until his appointment to the WV Senate in 2017.
Clements served in the WV House of Delegates from 2005 through 2008. He is serving as the Executive Director of the WV2 & Interstate 68 Authority and was appointed to the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways. Governor Justice appointed Clements to fill the Senate seat vacated when Kent Leonhardt was elected to become state Commissioner of Agriculture.
Clements was married to Eugenia Morris on March 1, 1968. Charles and Eugenia have two children and four grandchildren.
Carla Jones is an USAF veteran, a mother and grandmother who has resided outside of Fairview, Marion County for the past 30 years. She attended Fairmont State where she graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering Technology and minored in Safety. She also holds a degree in Sports Management. While at Fairmont State she was active in the American Society of Civil Engineers and participated on the Concrete Canoe team, winning regional and national recognition. She worked for the City of Houston, Texas and Farmington, WV in the water and wastewater treatment field then continued on to structural design of buildings for Caruso, Turley, Scott in Tempe, AZ. Carla is currently employed as a pipeline inspector for Dominion Energy and is a proud union member of the UWUA Local 69 out of Goshen Road.
Denny Longwell is a proud military veteran. He worked for 14 years in construction as a member of Ironworkers Local 549 (Wheeling). He worked 16 years at Conalco (Hannibal) in the Maintenance Department. He worked for 18 years for the Steelworkers Union.
Longwell is married to Wetzel County native, Susie Huggins (Longwell).
Longwell has one daughter, one step-daughter, one step-son and three grandchildren. Longwell and his wife are proud “parents” of our little girl, Carrie, a ten year old Shih-Tzu.
Longwell retired June 1, 2014. He is an amateur radio operator. He is a member of the Moose Lodge, New Martinsville. Longwell is a registered Democrat and Chair of the Wetzel County Democratic Executive Committee and was honored by the State Democratic Party in November 2017, being awarded the Chairwoman’s Award for 2017. As the Senator for the Second District, Longwell will “fight for a better future for every West Virginian.”
Do you have a plan for progress for Wetzel County and the area you represent? Give some specific steps to achieve that goal.
Charles Clements: The development of the oil and gas industry in West Virginia and Wetzel County has created many problems, which must be addressed. Laws must be put in place to protect the royalty owners as well as the surface owners from predatory practices that some of the developers have been using. Senate Bill 360, which I sponsored, addressed the problems of the Leggett decision issued by the Supreme Court. If reelected, I intend to propose legislation to extend the protections given to the “flat rate” leases to all leases with respect to post-production expenses. Surface owners need to be assured that any disturbed land will be returned to the condition that it was in before being disturbed by the developers; this should be done in a timely manner. We cannot allow the developers to destroy our state.
The biggest problem we have in our area and state is the lack of good jobs. Wetzel County is also challenged by the fact that industrial sites are at a premium or nonexistent. The movement of WV2 to the base of the hill should create developable land in Marshall County where employment opportunities should open for Wetzel County residents. The development of the “cracker” plant in Dillies Bottom, Ohio should also create jobs for our residents. We are developing our infrastructure to support growth. We need to provide a trained, drug free workforce as well as a business friendly tax structure to be attractive to those who make the decision as to where to make investments. Our community colleges can make a difference, as many of the jobs do not necessarily require a four-year degree. Our local trade unions also provide valuable training. The state is investing more into drug treatment centers to try to overcome the opioid problem we have in the state. Strict enforcement of drug laws with respect to illegal drugs is necessary to stop the flow of out of state drugs into WV. With economic development, the people using drugs will see hope for a brighter future which could give them the incentive to stop their drug use.
Carla Jones: Senate District 2 includes most of the “oil and gas” corridor and there has been some progress made in that arena toward economic development. We could do so much more by diversifying in the energy sector. Alternative energy industries such as solar are real possibilities and offer opportunity for revitalization of manufacturing. Slightly increasing the severance tax on our extraction industries and legalization of cannabis, both medicinal and recreational, could provide a revenue stream for not only funding PEIA and education, but also fighting the opioid problem, improving infrastructure (including broadband) and helping to start local small businesses. This is essential to revitalize our communities. I specifically will work closely with county commissioners and other civic leaders and gather valuable insight from local citizens to implement solutions that will move not only Wetzel County but all of our district forward to a better future for all.
Denny Longwell: Progress can come in different ways. I believe the best way to achieve and enjoy progress is through education. We have great teachers and school personnel; we just need better curriculum. To rank in the bottom five States in our Country in education is not acceptable. When we have a secondary education curriculum that ranks in the top five States then our Senate District (and our State) while enjoy progress. When I’m elected, I will push for a task force for the sole purpose of making our education system better. When our education is better, businesses will come and bring new jobs. We must insist that those jobs are offered to West Virginians first. New businesses, new jobs, new revenue and progress for the Second Senatorial District.
Tell us about one of your greatest accomplishments in your professional life.
Charles Clements: One of my greatest accomplishments has come from work with the WV Route 2 & Intestate 68 Authority. During my tenure as Executive Director, we have seen WV2 be expanded in several areas. In 2020 you should be able to drive from Proctor to the east side of the Wheeling Tunnel on a four-lane highway. A far cry from what it was in 2000. Prior to the Authority’s push, WV2 was just “talked about” in Charleston, but now it has been moved onto the front burner for development. We now want to expand Interstate 68 from Morgantown to the Ohio Valley. Infrastructure development provides jobs and opportunities for our citizens.
Carla Jones: One accomplishment I’m proud of is the first building I was responsible for solely doing the structural design of when I first started my engineering career. It was satisfying to see it built to completion and equally satisfying to know it is still standing today. I’m hopeful my greatest accomplishment is yet to come; working my hardest as your senator to make West Virginia be the best it can be for working families and the place we are all proud to call home.
Denny Longwell: First of all, I’m not a professional. I am a common working-class citizen. I have applied myself to the best of my ability and my effort in every thing I’ve attempted to achieve. As a Union representative, working at Conalco and then as a full-time employee of the Steelworkers International Union, accomplishments were realized from my effort. Fighting back against employers that tried to take advantage of the hourly workforce was, in my opinion, one of my best accomplishments. When hourly workers thank you for doing your best to help them achieve justice and protect their dignity, their jobs and their benefits, that tells a person that you have accomplished some degree of good. To me, accomplishment might be directly associated with the word, “successful”. I heard a Guidance Counselor at Magnolia High School tell graduating seniors one year that the definition of success is when you undertake a task and when the task is complete and things are better than when you began that is success. I hope that my efforts have yielded a better situation and I plan to work hard to realize success in the State Senate.