Nicholas County’s Jean Nutter talks ‘legislative inaction,’ and her campaign for the House of Delegates

By Matthew Young, RealWV

West Virginia’s legislative action of late, according to Jean Nutter, would more accurately be described as “inaction.”

“This last session just really took me back,” Nutter, a Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates in District 49, told RealWV on Friday. “What they were doing was bringing up a subject on the floor. Everyone in the room would talk about it for 10 or 15 minutes. They would add all kinds of amendments, and then they wouldn’t end up passing the bill.”

With the state’s current Republican Supermajority, Nutter reasoned, the process for passing legislation should run much more efficiently.

“I feel like they need some Democratic voices down there in Charleston, and I’m a Democrat,” Nutter added. “That’s why I’ve decided to run.”

One particular piece of stalled-legislation which stands out to Nutter is HB 4875, a bill which sought to eliminate the application of “good time credit” to reduce the sentences associated with certain criminal offenses. 

“In 2019, my son’s body was dropped off at Summersville Memorial Hospital,” Nutter explained. “He was dumped out of a car for the custodians to find in the middle of the day. He was a very healthy 43-year-old man. The coroner was called in, and they figured out that he had been injected with fentanyl, and murdered.”

“It set my family back a notch,” Nutter continued. “I spent the next year in court with three people, two of whom confessed, and they are all free out of prison. We haven’t even figured out what to do with the ashes yet.”

“When your family becomes a victim of the opioid epidemic, you learn a lot,” Nutter added. “What I promise, if I’m elected – I know the elements of addiction. It involves crime, incarceration, theft, recovery, rehabilitation, and mental health. I know how that can impact family life in West Virginia, and I will be a good custodian of those things. This is a crisis.”

House District 49 encompasses a significant portion of Nicholas County, where Nutter has lived her entire life. With her experience as a successful business woman, and her time spent with the West Virginia Department of Tourism, Nutter believes she has a unique and valuable perspective to bring to the House of Delegates, noting, “Wherever they put me, I’ve got something to say.”

While unopposed in the Democratic primary, Nutter says her campaign thus far has been well received. 

“So far, we’ve had 150 requests for signs, and we’ve raised over $2,000,” Nutter noted. “I think it’s going really well.”

Nutter’s opponent, Republican Delegate Heather Tully, has yet to face an election challenger. Now coming to the end of her second term in office, Tully was first appointed to the seat in 2020 by Gov. Jim Justice, before running unopposed in 2022. 

“One of the reasons that I’m running is because I really feel that when nothing is progressing, we shouldn’t have unopposed people on the ballot,” Nutter said. “I was going around asking people to run. I spent my entire life telling people I wouldn’t ask them to do anything I would not do.”

If elected, Nutter doesn’t see working with the Republican Supermajority as a problem, feeling that her life experience and years in business have prepared her to work effectively with all different types of people. 

“Happily, I’m going to be married 50-years in August, so I’ve been negotiating all my life,” Nutter said. “I know that some of the things that West Virginia is hearty in are nonpartisan. For instance, the foster care program that we have, my step-daughter is a social worker, so I’m very familiar with the problems they have there, and how they reach every family.”

“We’ve lost 23,000 kids to not having childcare in the state,” Nutter continued. “This affects us all directly, because we’re basically a two-income state. Until we get living wages up, we need good childcare.”

“We also need to think about infrastructure,” Nutter added. “West Virginia American Water came right in and asked for a raise during the Legislative session, and the PSC gave it to them. First of all, why don’t they go to downtown Charleston and fix their hydrants, and then make sure nobody is on a boil water advisory this week?”

“Those things are nonpartisan, aren’t they?” Nutter concluded.

As Jean Nutter is unopposed in the Democratic primary, she is the presumptive nominee for the House of Delegates in District 49. Primary Election Day in West Virginia is Tuesday, May 14. Voters must be registered either as independent, or a member of a particular political party to vote in that party’s primary election. 

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