4th District Senatorial candidates offer voters a choice

Suzette Lowe
Amy Grady

The three candidates vying for the 4th Senatorial District, comprised of Jackson and Mason County and parts of Roane and Putnam Counties, have differing views on many of the issues facing the district. Each candidate was given a chance to answer questions. Both Amy Nichole Grady and Bruce Ashworth chose to have a phone interview, while Loyd Butcher opted for questions submitted by e-mail.

Bruce Ashworth, Democrat

42 years old from Ripley

What three issues do you consider the most pressing and how do you propose to try to address them?

1. Right to Work – This has got to be repealed. Prevailing wag must be brought back. We’ve already learned the promise that it would save money is not coming true. Wages, safety, benefits, and job security have to be a top priority.

2. Education -- One of the first cuts that seem to be made when the economy struggles is education. I have supported every education initiative that has been set forth in my county. Teachers deserve the pay raises they were promised and PEIA needs to be fairly funded. There is no place for charter schools in this state. I personally didn’t vote for every funding proposal to have that money shifted to charter schools. I also strongly support having a counselor in every school because depression and suicides are becoming far too common.

3. Infrastructure/Broadband – The roads in this district are in pitiful shape. I’ve noticed that the governor’s Roads to Prosperity program has seen a lot of work close to this election. We have got to make broadband available to our citizens. We’ve seen the impact on education right now with this issue. If it takes making it a public utility, let’s do that.

What role, if any, do you see the Legislature having in COVID-19 response?

I expected there to be a special session of some sort to deal with the issue, but it never happened. We have got to get the money released that the state was given to help with COVID. I’ve seen too many small businesses closing because they didn’t get relief and help.

What differences are there between you and your opponents?

I have 39 years’ experience in the union. I have hands-on experience with negotiating, and I’m used to working to get whatever is needed. I am against charter schools and I am pro-choice. The working-class families of this district were not seeing their concerns being addressed. I can be their voice because I understand the struggle and the issues. Being a senator is a public service that I would be honored to perform.

Loyd Butcher, Libertarian

42 years old from Pt. Pleasant

What three issues do you consider the most pressing and how do you proposed to try to address them?

1. Size of government – Reducing the size and scope of government will decrease the tax burden, increase economic opportunity, and restore individual liberty. My focus will be working within the Legislature to institute comprehensive audits of each agency and all programs, allowing us to discern what is working and what is not. We’ll discover waste and redundancies. By learning what is ineffective or no longer relevant, we will see where cuts can be made. When utilized in conjunction with a zero-based budgeting approach, significant savings can be passed to the taxpayers.

2. Reducing regulations – Reducing onerous regulations and permits will spur economic growth. Far too many burdens have been placed on both small and large businesses. We need to make it easier to open and run a business in WV to attract investors into our state and remove obstacles from folks who want to start a business.

3. Personal freedom – We must stop interfering in the personal lives of our citizens. For example, parents must have the power to make educational choices for their children. Allowing tax credits and rebates for families who choose private and parochial schools or home education will dramatically improve education outcomes in the state.

What role, if any, do you see the Legislature having in COVID-19 response?

The Legislature has a critical role to play. Governor Justice is not king. The Legislature must be involved in determining how federal relief funds are spent. Any state of preparedness or emergency set by the governor is only valid for 30 days as outlined in WV Code 15-5-6(b). These months-long mandates and his takeover of public schools are clear violations of both the WV Code and the WV Constitution.

What differences are there between you and your opponents?

As a Libertarian, I bring fresh ideas to the table. Because I am neither Republican nor Democrat, I won’t be expected to toe a party line and will be able to work with everyone. Most importantly, I will listen to my constituents, holding regular meetings with citizens both to hear their needs and concerns, and also to inform them of what is going on in the legislative branch. I am independent from lobbyists, party bosses, and PACs, completely free to make decisions based on what is best for WV and not for some special interest group. I am dedicated to reducing the size and scope of government.

Amy Nichole Grady, Republican

41 years old, lives in Leon WV

What three issues do you consider the most pressing and how do you propose to try to address them?

1. Infrastructure – We are the 37th worst state in infrastructure. While the Legislature doesn’t control the Department of Highways, as a Senator, more information is available. Why aren’t counties treated equitably? Randolph County roads look great – ours do not. Funding needs to be monitored better including Roads to Prosperity.

2. Education/Broadband – If I’m elected, teachers and education are going to have a seat at the table with the focus always on our students. Broadband has to be a high priority because it affects not only education but telemedicine and job opportunities. In Mason County, during this time of blended learning, I can’t reach my students through internet access which means I have to call them. That has to change. As far as charter schools are concerned, I’m not opposed to them if they’re run correctly. Parents should have a choice, but we have to rewrite the guidelines so that money does not come from public education.

3. Drug Epidemic/Foster Care – These are linked together because drugs are at the heart of most of our foster care issues. A lot more funding needs to be given to rehab options and drug courts. We need to listen to recovering addicts – they know what works. Make family placement for foster care the easiest option and lower the cost of adoption which is prohibitive right now.

What role, if any, do you see the Legislature having in COVID-19 response?

There definitely needs to be oversight and to get the money appropriated correctly. I do see a legislative role but it’s unclear at this point – it will be a very interesting session.

What differences are there between you and your opponents?

The challenge is to represent a varied district that has each county dealing with different issues. And every county is important. I am a strong listener and honest – in my dealings and in my answers. I am pro-union and against right to work – but it’s going to take a lot to get it addressed in the way it should be. I am pro-life. I do try to be a role model and I promise to bring common sense, reasonableness, and responsibility to the office of state senator. I know my voice will be heard and my message will be clear.

Bruce Ashworth