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Candidates square off in WV Governor debate

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — There are exactly 3 weeks until Election Night and the decision of who will be the Mountain State’s next governor. On Tuesday night, the top two candidates faced off in a statewide debate hosted by the West Virginia Broadcasters Association.

The debate may have only been one hour in length but Governor Jim Justice and Democratic challenger Ben Salango covered more than a dozen different topics, everything from the Coronavirus Pandemic, to race relations and coal.

The first topic was the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Justice defended his response and the controversial color coded map. Salango argued otherwise saying the Governor should have issued a mask mandate sooner.

“We listen to the experts, we don’t listen to the union bosses to tell us what to do. You have to adjust,” said Gov. Justice.

Salango argued, “We need to make sure we are putting public health ahead of politics.”

The candidates sparred over the state’s secondary roads, the economy, and the Black Lives Matter Movement. They did agree on the Fairness Act, an LGBTQ Protections Act, that has yet to pass in the West Virginia Legislature after multiple attempts. Both Justice and Salango said they would sign the bill if it passed through the legislature.

When it comes to marijuana, both spoke in favor of medical marijuana but neither would support it for recreational purposes,

Another major topic was coal. Salango stressed he would never turn his back on coal miners, but does believe other opportunities need to be provided.

“I would absolutely never ever turn my back on coal miners, most of my families were coal miners,” said Salango. “But we do need other opportunities like vocational and technical trainings.”

When it comes to the presidential election, Governor Justice said he will be voting for President Trump. After some pressing from moderator Hoppy Kercheval, Salango said he will vote for Biden.

While lots of ground was covered, both candidates were quick to throw jabs at one another. Justice stressing he believes Salango is too young calling the county commissioner inexperienced. While Salango emphasized the Governor’s legal battles and federal investigations into his personal finances.

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