Charleston, W.Va. (WOWK) The West Virginia Can’t Wait movement was in full force Saturday morning at the House Delegates chambers in the State Capitol, and the candidates running on the ballot this upcoming election, hope to change and overhaul the way politicians operate in the Mountain State.
The movement has about 71 candidates filing to run for local, state, federal offices in West Virginia, and more than two dozen of them were on stage Saturday morning, and one of the group’s promises is to work for the hard-working people of West Virginia who live from paycheck to paycheck, and not for corporations.
“and not to take a penny from corporate PACS, executives from big pharma, big energy or out of state land companies,” said Cathy Kunkel(D), candidate for 2nd Congressional District.
Kunkel is challenging incumbent Alex Mooney (R) for the 2nd Congressional District seat, and is the co-founder of Rise Up WV, in Charleston that advocates for healthcare for all, quality public education, and better services for those suffering from addiction.
At the rally she and Stephen Smith(D), who is running for governor against incumbent Jim Justice(R), said all the candidates who are part of the West Virginia Can’t Wait movement have pledged not to take corporate cash, to support workers and unions, never back down from a fight, and not to blame those who are struggling
“Hard-working West Virginian’s sweat and toil for their families bread only to watch someone else eat it,” Smith. “It is no wonder that suicide, divorce, mental illness, and drug overdose death are at or near all-time highs”.
About seven candidates introduced themselves to supporters at the event and told them what they stand for. Brittney Barlett, who is a 28-year-old English teacher at Buckhannon-Upshur High School and running for the 46th House District against incumbent Del. Patrick Martin (R-Lewis), talked about education reform. She used her time to talk about fully funding PEIA, rejecting endless testing in the schools and embracing arts, music, math, and science. She also said public schools should start business and career education that prepares kids for good jobs after they graduate. But the soundbite that got her big applause was teachers’ salaries.
“That means teacher raises to match neighboring states,” said Barlett.
Army Veteran Tina Russel, who has been a public school teacher in Mercer County for nearly five years, and before that spent 25 years as a social worker, is running for the House District 27 seat against incumbent Del. Eric Porterfield (R-Mercer), talked about passing a Workers Bill of Rights, reversing Right to Work, establishing equal pay for equal work, and collective bargaining for all state employees.
“…and we will pass a $15 minimum wage,” said Russell.
After all the speeches were done, the candidates at the event headed down to the Secretary of State’s office to file their paperwork to be on the ballot (mass filing).
Some of the people who attended the event said they felt very optimistic about what they heard and saw.
“I know we can’t get every single one. but hopefully, we can get as many as we can into office as we can,” said Daniel Falsafi, who attended the rally.