RIPLEY – For the past 32 years, Steve Westfall has worked in the insurance business. He's been an agent in Ripley for State Farm. The company with the long-time catchy jingle "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there."
Westfall has prided himself on being like a good neighbor when it comes to serving his policy holders. It's the same approach he plans to use in Charleston as a new House of Delegates member.
In November, Westfall was elected to the House seat in the 12th District. It was vacated when Mitch Carmichael chose to run for State Senator, a race in which he won.
"When Mitch considered running for Senate, there were a few people out there who approached me about doing it (running for the House seat)," said Westfall about his first stab at state government. "I just thought I could do it. I've worked with people all of my life, either teaching school or State Farm Insurance. I'm a people person. I take care of people's problems."
Once Westfall decided to run, he went at it full-throttle. "I worked at it hard. I went out and did the question and answer sessions and told them (potential voters) my beliefs," he said. "It was gratifying to win."
The 81st Legislature began February 13th in Charleston. Westfall had a brief indoctrination into the way things would work with a one-day session in January.
"When the gavel went down I was sitting in the front row and I thought, 'Wow, I'm really here.' It was pretty awesome."
Westfall graduated from Braxton County High School in 1974. He is one of three BCHS graduates (Tim Armstead and Brent Boggs are the others) on the House floor. The Senate also features Doug Facemire, another Braxton County High alum.
During Westfall's high school days, he played basketball and competed in track and field. From there he moved on to Glenville State College and earned a degree in elementary education.
He taught for three years at the grade school level in Braxton County before turning to the insurance business.
"A good friend of mine was a State Farm agent and asked me if I was interested in selling insurance," Westfall recalled. "They were looking to expand more and more in West Virginia in the late '70s and early '80s. They wanted you to have a degree. It didn't matter what it was in. I talked to a few people. The job in Ripley was one of three I was offered. I thought it was the best opportunity. I came here and didn't know a soul."
Westfall fell in love with the area and has remained here ever since. "This is home. I've got so many friends here," said Westfall, who is the proud father of a son and daughter.
Page 2 of 2 - The goals for Westfall are simple. "I know I can't go down there and cure all the problems. We need more people to listen to the people," Westfall said. "We need to look at their needs. I've always tried to take care of my policy holders. I go above and beyond. I get satisfaction out of taking care of people."
Just like a good neighbor.
Now, Steve Westfall hopes to begin doing the same at the state level as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates.