(Editor’s note: This is part of a continuing series of election previews for races voters will decide on Nov. 8. More will follow in upcoming editions.)
POINT PLEASANT — The race for the West Virginia House of Delegates 13th District involves four candidates vying for two seats.
Fighting for those seats are, Incumbent Michael Ihle (R), and challengers Scott Brewer (D), Joshua Kurt Higginbotham (R) and Rosalee Juba-Plumley (D).
Each candidate was asked to provide background information about themselves, which could include anything from employment history to qualifications for the office they are seeking. Each candidate was also asked to answer the question “Why I ran for this office?” All candidates were to provide this information within reasonable limits of a designated word count for the sake of fairness.
Previews begin with responses from the incumbent followed by challengers in alphabetical order.
Michael Ihle background information:
“My name is Michael Ihle and I am honored to have been your delegate the past two years. I believe in you and all hard-working community members. Unlike most politicians, I do not pretend to be one of you—I am one. I was placed in foster care at age two and was adopted at age seven. At age 16, I graduated from Ravenswood High School. After higher education, I worked several jobs starting from the bottom up. I started in a grocery store, then as a Census supervisor, and finally as a health insurance agent. In 2012, I answered God’s call by running for mayor of Ravenswood. With lots of help and prayers, I became the youngest mayor in West Virginia. In 2014, I was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates. With family in Letart, my roots are deep in our community. Unlike most people my age (I am 29), I have stayed here to try and make West “by God” Virginia a better place—especially for our children. Now that my time as mayor has come to an end, I have begun a new career as a consultant for Bath Fitter. I work right here in our community, traveling across our district every day to help families and seniors solve their bathtub and shower problems.”
Michael Ihle “Why I ran for this office?”
“During my two years in the House of Delegates, I have helped lead the push to restore local control of our schools by trying to stop Common Core. Unlike career politicians, it hasn’t been that long since I was in school. With our schools constantly ranked at the bottom in the nation, it is time for change. I want to restore your right to control the education your children or grandchildren receive. It’s time to stop Washington D.C. from dictating what our children do and don’t learn. I have also led opposition against higher taxes and wasteful spending. In this tough economy, taking more money out of your pockets is simply cruel. Again, I believe in you. The less government takes from you, the better quality of life you can provide for you and your family. Sadly, many politicians believe they have a “right” to your hard-earned money. This is both immoral and bad economics. Government must learn to live within its means just like we do. I have faithfully defended your civil rights. I firmly believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and in my sacred Oath of Office to uphold them. The right to life and the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Common sense? Maybe. But it sure isn’t common in politics right now. I hope to continue to serve you because values matter. We will not always agree, but my door is always open to you. It is about time our government get out of the way of good jobs so our children have a fighting chance to stay here and help their parents and grandparents. I humbly ask for your support. “
Scott Brewer background information:
“Born and raised in Point Pleasant, I graduated from Point Pleasant High School in 1978 along with two years technical training at Mason County Vocational Center and immediately began working as a construction pile driver and carpenter. In 2001, after spending 22 years working in the field, and as a member of Carpenters Local 1159 in Point Pleasant, I accepted a job as a representative for the carpenters’ union. I’ve had the good fortune to continue to represent working West Virginians in this capacity for the last 15-plus years. Some of my endorsements include the WV AFL-CIO and more than twenty (20) of its affiliates representing over seventy thousand (70,000) active members, most of who work in West Virginia. I currently serve on various boards including Carpenters Pension Fund of WV, Carpenters Health Fund of WV, WV Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, Mason County Development Authority, and Charleston Labor Education And Development. I’m a current member of the Union Sportsman’s Alliance (USA), Sons of the American Legion, and the Putnam County Farm Bureau.”
Scott Brewer “Why I ran for this office?”
“I decided to run for public office because of the backward direction of the current leadership in Charleston. All of West Virginia, including the 13th district should be focused on investing in our future, not passing legislation that takes jobs from our citizens and replaces them with foreign workers, or strips the protections in place that allow West Virginia businesses to compete and pay our workers a livable wage. I don’t accept the deterioration of our roads and bridges or the lack of any other form of infrastructure that is required to attract the businesses to employ our eligible workforce. As our legislators wasted precious time debating insignificant issues like raw milk consumption and selling alcohol on Sunday mornings, the business community and citizens of West Virginia were left with an additional $600,000 bill for an extended session to perform their only constitutional requirement of passing a budget. Many of the issues facing West Virginia can be improved by investing in our educational system, from primary, through secondary, higher, and technical institutions. Our hard working public employees deserve to earn wages and benefits comparable to surrounding states, allowing them to continue to live and work in West Virginia. I’ve spent 50 of my 56 years in Mason County. I’ve worked here, hunted and fished here, and I’m concerned about average West Virginia issues, not the concerns of special interests from Washington DC. My intent is to represent the 13th district and create good paying jobs while balancing the budget – exactly the opposite of the current legislature.”
Joshua Kurt Higginbotham background information:
“Over the years, I have learned that hard work pays off. I started preaching at age 13, wrote my first book at 14, served as a student ambassador in Europe at 15, worked in the US Senate at 16, was a leader in a global organization at 17, and I’m currently running for the House of Delegates at a young age. I have had a strong work ethic in everything I do, and that is something we need in government no matter what age our elected officials are. Higginbotham is Pro-Life, Pro-Second Amendment, and Pro-Coal. I might be young, but my beliefs are truly conservative. I grew up on a farm in rural West Virginia, the youngest of four children and the son of a union welder. No Higginbotham had ever attended college and none had left my home town—until I decided to pursue my own American Dream.”
Joshua Kurt Higginbotham “Why I ran for this office?”
“I’m running for the House of Delegates to help make West Virginia great again, and I want to ensure that young people in our state have the ability to succeed just as I have. No matter where you come from, regardless of your circumstance, I will give everyone the opportunity to pursue your American Dream, too.”
Rosalee Juba-Plumley background information:
“I am Rosalee Juba-Plumley. I am a candidate for the House of Delegates in the 13th District. I have been a family practice attorney since 1985. I have an economics degree from Marshall (1982) and a law degree from WVU College of Law. I also volunteer as President of Putnam Aging, providing meals and home health to seniors, President of the Putnam County 4-H Foundation, a member of the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary and the Farm Bureau.”
Rosalee Juba-Plumley “Why I ran for this office?”
“I am running because of the assault on working families with the passage of the “right to work for less” law and the repeal of the prevailing wage, both of which will only serve to reduce wages, reduce workplace safety and kill jobs for West Virginians and allow foreigners to take our jobs; the complete and total failure of the legislature in the past two years to pass any meaningful or helpful law to address the drug epidemic killing our children (I deal with this issue on a daily basis. I know what can help); the daily attack on teachers and education by the current legislature; the failure of the legislature to responsibly balance our budget. We must replace the coal severance revenues and act like reasonable adults. There will be another $487,000,000 budget deficit next year. Fraud and waste are only a tiny fraction. The rest will either have to come in cuts to education or we will have to raise revenues.”
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.