Candidates Clash at Forum in Beckley

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Economic issues facing Southern West Virginia voters were the focus of  a candidates forum in Beckley this morning.

There were a few personal jabs, but mostly a chance for candidates to voice their positions on a struggling state economy. 

Dozens of community members came out to the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center to hear what their politicians had to say about improving local and statewide issues at the candidates forum. Tim Carrico, 59News anchor, was one of  several panelists to question candidates on hot topics.  

Business owners like Leonard Urtso of Calacino’s say the event changed his entire perspective on where his votes are going in November. 

“I was dually impressed with all of the presentations and was persuaded to change my mind on some of the candidates,” Urtso said. “I think that everybody in the county ought to take this opportunity to stay alert to these people, to get a sense of where they’re going.”

The state budget, education and drug epidemic were widely discussed topics at the forum. 

Many of the candidates believe an improved roadway system in southern West Virginia would be a shot in the arm for the local economy. 

“The roads we have are necessary, but we need more,” Sabrina Shrader, House of Delegates District 27 candidate. “We especially need the King Coal Highway extended to McDowell County. That’s a reason McDowell County’s been left behind, it’s because the road isn’t there. And that would solve a lot of problems, we could create more jobs with more roads and better access to facilities.”

“One of my biggest concerns is infrastructure in general,” Kayla Kessinger, House of Delegates District 32 candidate. “Making sure the Coal Fields Expressway is built, that it’s completed. That the Z-Pass in Beckley is completed. And that we are expanding our broadband as another form of infrastructure in the state.”

The 3-hour political showdown provided an opportunity for candidates to propose their best solutions for problems facing West Virginia.

Politicians covered issues that will ultimately impact businesses and lives around the southern region of the Mountain State. The forum allowed locals to connect with leaders on a personal level.

“It’s important to us to be able to have a relationship with those people who are elected,” Ellen Taylor, Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce president. “And to be able to discuss those issues with them that we think are important that’s going to move our community forward.”

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