St. Luke’s in Craigsville hosts ‘Meet the Candidates’ event, part one

By Autumn Shelton, RealWV

CRAIGSVILLE, W.Va. – It’s primary election season, and that means taking the time to “Meet the Candidates.” 

On April 27, at St. Luke’s auditorium in Craigsville, residents were able to meet and hear from candidates running for the West Virginia House of Delegates for Districts 48 and 49, Nicholas County Sheriff, Circuit Court Judge, magistrate and more.  

Serving as emcee for the event was Kris Warner, executive director of the West Virginia Economic Development Authority, and Republican candidate for West Virginia Secretary of State. 

To get started, Warner reminded those in attendance that early voting begins on May 1 and lasts until May 11. Primary election day is May 14. 

Unopposed candidates for office, who briefly introduced themselves, included Garrett Cole, incumbent Nicholas County Commissioner representing the Gauley District; Betty Griffin, for Nicholas County Assessor, and Bobby Holdren for Magistrate, Division 1. 

Those not in attendance, but also running unopposed, include incumbents: Sen. Jack David Woodrum, R-Summers; Harley Stollings for Family Court Judge of the 16th Family Court Circuit, and Mike Hanks for magistrate, Division 3. 

First Congressional District Democratic Candidate Jim Umberger also introduced himself. Umberger is challenging two-term incumbent Republican Carol Miller for her seat in Washington, DC, during the general election this November. 

Those running for opposed seats were next to speak. First up to the podium were Democrat Devin Spinks and incumbent Republican Tom Clark, who are both seeking office for the House of Delegates District 48, which serves the eastern portion of Nicholas County, Webster County and a small portion of northern Greenbrier County. 

Spinks spoke first. 

“I am a teacher in our classrooms every day over at Summersville Middle School,” Spinks began. “I teach Social Studies and Geography. I’m running because of my children in my classroom. There’s so many of my children that have needs that need to be addressed at the state level.” 

Spinks said he believes the three biggest issues West Virginia faces are education, infrastructure, and the opioid crisis. 

To address those issues, Spinks stated that school personnel need equal pay, classrooms need more funding and attention, and every child statewide should have access to free school meals. 

Additionally, Spinks said that more broadband access is needed, and he applauded the recent announcement that West Virginia secured $1.2 billion through the “Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, part of President Biden’s “Internet for All” initiative. 

Spinks also stated that substance abuse prevention and recovery programs for children and adults, as well as community education programs, need to be made available. 

Clark, who was appointed in January to his current House of Delegates seat by Gov. Jim Justice following Republican Caleb Hanna’s resignation to run for state auditor, spoke next. 

According to Clark, he worked for 40 years in the coal industry, including time spent as a mine inspector. He also owned two businesses in Webster County – an Exxon distributorship and the Webster Echo and Republican newspaper – until his retirement. 

Clark said he believes something needs to come to his district to stabilize the area’s economy, noting that it could be additional job opportunities through the timber industry, or possibly through tourism by creating ATV trails. 

“We are working on that,” Clark said. 

Additionally, Clark said that something needs to be done to address the opioid epidemic. 

“There’s money out there, but it’s like dust,” Clark stated. “It’s floating around and nobody knows where it is, and nobody knows how to get a hold of it yet.” 

He noted that although the city of Richwood has been able to acquire some police cruisers from opioid funding, the “big money is still out there.”

“We need treatment facilities in this area, and we need quality treatment facilities,” Clark said. 

Lastly, Clark spoke about the county’s jail bill, and how it needs to be addressed. 

“They just did their budget, I think $7.6 million . . . Webster’s is about $2.6 [million], Greenbrier’s is about $17 million, they spend, here in Nicholas County, over a million dollars in jail bills,” Clark stated. “In Webster County, we spend a half-million, and in Greenbrier County, they are spending over $700,000. Folks, that’s a lot of money that could be put back in your community if we could find a revenue source . . . in the legislature, we’ve got to come up with a revenue source to put that back on the state.” 

Up next, those in attendance heard from candidates for a seat in the House of Delegates for District 49, which includes the western portion of Nicholas County. 

Republican candidate Stanley Adkins began. 

Adkins said he was born and raised in Nicholas County, and that his family owned and operated multiple businesses in the area for decades. 

“Everything that happens in this community, in this county, in this state took a team,” Adkins said. “When I was the mayor of Summersville, we got a lot of good things done – new water plant, new sewer plant, new armory, a senior citizens center, a hydro plant, remodeled the civic building – but none of those things happened because of only me. It took a team.” 

“If you look around this county, I think this county is going to be a rocketship,” Adkins continued. “I think this is going to be the center, this is going to be a superstar of the state . . . but it’s going to take a team . . . who’s on that team?”

Adkins said he wanted to be a part of that team – of the Republican team. 

Next to the podium was candidate Jean Nutter

“Yes, District 49, there is a Democrat running,” Nutter announced. “I’m Jean Nutter.” 

According to Nutter, she is a life-long resident of the county, which helps her understand the needs of the people. 

“As a former proprietor of business, you can depend on me to promote and protect businesses,” Nutter said, adding that she will be a steward of opioid legislation. 

“Criminals dumped my son’s body up in Summersville hospital in the parking lot one day, and the investigation led to charges of deliberate fentanyl causing death. They had injected him with fentanyl and murdered him,” Nutter stated, adding that her family became “acutely aware of the elements of addiction.” 

Nutter also stated that lawmakers must address bad road conditions as well as protect waterways and air quality, work with companies to increase cell phone coverage, and listen to what public school educators have to say about meeting educational standards. 

“As a delegate, I will promote better free public education, and I also see the need for specialized learning academies and more trade schools,” Nutter said. 

Lastly, she said the Republican supermajority in Charleston is not meeting the needs of all of the state’s citizens. 

“Let me help make decisions,” Nutter concluded. 

Finally, incumbent Republican Delegate Heather Tully addressed the audience. 

Tully began by discussing her background in nursing, having worked as a Registered Nurse for 22 years, and as a family nurse practitioner. 

“I am endorsed by the NRA,” Tully said. “I do believe in your 2nd Amendment right to carry a gun.”

Tully said she is also endorsed by the West Virginia Coal Association, the Farm Bureau, the West Virginia Contractors Association, and has a 100 percent pro-life voting record. 

Tully noted her biggest accomplishment while serving as a legislator has been working on the reorganization of the state Department of Health and Human Resources. 

“We still have a ways to go with that, we are still working on it,” Tulley said. “We are still working on CPS (Child Protective Services) issues . . . to make that more efficient to those it serves and is supposed to protect.” 

Tully then shifted gears to discuss her and her Republican colleagues’ work on tax reform, the phasing out of Social Security taxes, expansion of economic development projects – including Alpha’s Rolling Thunder underground coal mine in Nicholas County – broadband expansion, tourism – including the Summersville State Park – school choice, and the Third Grade Success Act, among others. 

“I look forward to going back, and I hope to have your vote on May 14,” Tully concluded. 

To hear from other candidates, including those for Circuit Court Judge and Nicholas County Sheriff, who spoke at the “Meet the Candidates” event in Nicholas County, stay tuned to The Real WV. 

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