Q&A: Poore discusses upcoming congressional campaign - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Q&A: Poore discusses upcoming congressional campaign

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Delegate Meshea Poore, D-Kanawha, is a Charleston native. She is a graduate of Howard University and is a member of both the West Virginia and Alabama State Bar associations. She worked in the Kanawha County Public Defender's Office from 2004-2009 and was appointed to the House of Delegates in 2009.

She filed pre-candidacy paperwork to run for the 2nd Congressional District July 12 and is one of seven people who have filed papers for the seat — three Democrats and four Republicans.

The State Journal asked Poore five questions about her campaign for Congress. Following is the full transcript.

The State Journal: How are you juggling all your roles right now? You're a delegate, a daughter, an attorney and now you're launching a new campaign.

Meshea Poore: With a smile. I have a loving family, very supportive. I have a great community that has elected me and trusts me to be able to represent them in the district, and I'm very committed to everything I put my name on, so I do it with a smile, and I do it with a lot of determination and passion, and I think that because of that, I'm able to manage them fairly well.

TSJ: Why Congress and why now?

MP: First and foremost, I know West Virginia has been waiting for a voice like mine in D.C. They've been waiting for someone who has new energy, someone who has a proven track record, who has been able to be in the trenches for West Virginians for the last …  going on five years now as my duties at the Legislature, who has been trusted by her district and has been able to get some solutions for some of the problems we've had here. 

I know people are looking for someone like me who is filled with passion, someone who has — I have committed my life to public service work. I've done that from the beginning of when I first graduated from high school, from Capital High. I just wanted to help people, that was my whole goal, and I think that's been proven in everything that I've done up to this point. 

I think now, because, why not now? The reality is it's a seat that is open, that can be obtained by a Democrat, and particularly me, so I don't know why it wouldn't be now. I think that leaders step up; I don't think they have to be asked. I don't think they have to be tapped; I think they know when they're able and willing to serve. 

The reality is I know that I'm able to do the job, that I'm capable, that I have a proven record and that I have fought hard for the West Virginia Democrats and Republicans that I represent in this current district. My current district is demographically made up the same as the 2nd Congressional District. When you look at my current record, I'm supported by labor and I'm supported by commerce. I don't look at it per se by party or affiliation, I look at it by West Virginians and what's best for them. And I've been able to do that by also being a part of the coal caucus and the labor caucus, by working well with my colleagues across the aisle and the women's caucus, dealing with both Republican and Democrat women and making sure we do what's best for West Virginia children, what's best for West Virginia senior citizens, and more importantly, just what's best for West Virginia.

TSJ: What are some of your specific initiatives or platform for this race?

MP: I think West Virginians are concerned about the economy, that's something that we all have been looking at for several years, making sure we're putting our best foot forward, not just locally but nationally, and people are seeing what we have to offer internationally as well. 

Our veterans. You know, my dad was a Vietnam veteran, and I am very committed to our men and women who have gone overseas or defend our country serving and protecting us. I want to make sure that when they come home, they have good-paying jobs with great benefits and health insurance, and that also includes mental health care. 

I think what we have to be very clear of is we can't speak for what our men and women have seen and what they've gone through. They've been away from their families and their loved ones, they've had to deal with some very tremendously difficult times overseas and some of the circumstances and environments taking place there, and I think we have a responsibility to take care of them. While certainly the VA does a wonderful job, we also have a job. We're stewards of our people, and I think that we have a responsibility to them as well.

Something else I'm certainly very passionate about is our young people. We need to let them know that there is no limit to what they can accomplish, and they can make their home in West Virginia. They can stay at home in West Virginia and flourish the way we know they can. I'm very committed to our education system, making sure we get the best bang for our buck, that we are certainly looking at innovative ways to educate and innovative ways to keep qualified teachers, and so those are some of the things that I am committed to. 

And when I say committed, this is not new. These are things I've already done since I've been a member of the Legislature, so it will just be continued more on the federal level. I think something else that needs to be stated is we continually talk about gridlock, and I know that people look at television, and I know they listen to the rhetoric that unfortunately — and I don't mean to say this disrespectfully, but the media — kind of puts in their heads, the jargon they receive. They need an official that can go to D.C. and can maneuver around some of the roadblocks that we do have happening in D.C. and still be able to bring back service work, whether it be programs or information that can advance West Virginia. I know I am that candidate, and I say that in the most humble way I can say it.

There's something about having a passion for people and something about knowing that what you hold in you is pure, that you're not doing this for a title, you're not doing it because someone has told you that you should do it. You know, I've had a lot of people of course approach me and want me to do this, but I'm doing it because I know that I can do a fantastic job for the people of West Virginia. I know I am the person that can run this election that can win both the primary and the general, but more importantly will go to D.C. and work. You need someone that's going to put their head down, learn the ropes and figure out what needs to be done to bring information and services and programs back to the state of West Virginia. I've been able to do that since being in state office, and I'll do it at the federal level. To me, it will be a smooth transition because of what I've already done. And I have experience working on Capitol Hill, it's not like I've never been to D.C. It's not new to me. I went to undergrad in D.C., I worked on Capitol Hill, and so it's not a new thing. 

TSJ: What do you think will be your biggest campaign challenge?

MP: I think one of the biggest challenges I'm going to have in this race is getting some West Virginians to believe that they're worthy of someone of my caliber, that they're worthy of someone who is really committed to them. You know, it doesn't matter if you come from a big-named family or you've been entrenched in politics for a lot of years, or you have a whole lot of money behind your name, but that you have the passion and the commitment to work for me as a West Virginian. 

And that, to me, is the biggest challenge. I think that voters have, for so long, felt that they didn't have a choice. That there's always this person who they're supposed to pick because this person is the proper name or has the proper person behind them, or they have a whole bunch of money behind them, and what we sometimes fail to get is a person who's really committed to service.

And for me, I know West Virginia is worthy of someone who is committed to them wholeheartedly, who has a record of that and hasn't shied away from that. You know, I'm 37 years old, and for 37 years, you can go back and look and see what I've done, that it is committed to service. I'm not now just stepping up and saying, ‘Hey, I want to run for office,' or ‘Hey, I want you to consider me because there's an open seat,' because I've put myself through the process. I have learned what I think I should know and learned through the local process. I have been committed and then, I think, respected by my colleagues at the Capitol. I have been able to work across the aisle, and I've been able to do these things, but they are worthy of someone who is genuine, worthy of someone who does not feel like they're entitled to this position, but who wants to earn that person's respect and their vote. And I want to earn the right for them to go and be their voice, just as I did in the 37th District — earn the right, because of my commitment and my passion and my energy, go to D.C. and fight for them. I think that is going to be the biggest challenge, is to let them know that they have a choice.

TSJ: Win or lose, what comes next?

MP: I will still continue to help people. This is what I do; it's who I am. I don't know if it matters, win or lose, because to me, that's just who I am.

I have one more year left to serve (in the House of Delegates) and do some good work for the 37th District. I love my district. They have been so gracious to me and so wonderful to me. It's just been a great, great opportunity, and I just am so appreciative of them for believing in me, trusting in me and allowing me to really represent them at the Capitol.

But hopefully I'll be able to represent them in D.C.