WILLAMSON — Two candidates will face off in the general election for a seat in the West Virginia State House of Delegates representing the 29th district — which includes southern Wayne and northern Mingo counties.
Republican Henry Corby Dillon of Fort Gay beat out opponents in the primary election to secure his party’s nomination and move forward to the general election. He works in education.
“I’ve lived in this community all my life, 41 years,” Dillon said. “I’ve been involved in education for the better part of that.”
Dillon said he thinks more laws passed by the legislature should reflect the needs of the residents in the state. He also said he has noticed other issues including addiction, education regulations and an increase in litter, to name a few.
“I’ve seen some changes that are not always positive,” Dillon said. “I’ve seen an increase in drug use. I’ve seen education move in a direction that I’m not particularly thrilled about. I’ve seen a number of things in our community that I think could be done a little differently, and I’d like to be able to do something about that.”
Dillon said cost of living increases have also had a major impact. He said utility bills and continually requested rate increases are a major point of contention, and he said he thinks there should be a more competitive market for utility providers in the state.
“We need accountability on our utilities,” Dillon said. “We have power utilities and internet utilities and phone utilities — they seem to continually request and obtain rate increases. I don’t see that the citizens for one thing are happy with the services they’re currently receiving or happy with paying more after already being hit with higher grocery bills and a higher cost of living all the way around. I think we need to examine ways to introduce more competition in all of these utilities.”
Dillon said living and working in the district gives him a chance to hear from the people and to see what needs are not being met.
“Having lived in the district for 41 years and having been listening to people telling me about their needs for quite a number of years, and having participated in different facets of education, I understand where and how certain complex subjects need to be addressed,” Dillon said. “I see things from different perspectives. I’m also involved in agriculture, and I understand that Wayne County in particular is interested in pursuing agriculture in education, and I feel like I would be best suited to help promote that effort and provide the support that they need for that.”
Democrat David Thompson of Fort Gay ran unopposed in the primary. He also works in education and is a pastor. He has served in several political offices in his hometown and coaches various sports for his local high school.
“I was on city council in Fort Gay for several years, and then I was the municipal court judge for the town of Fort Gay,” Thompson said. “I also served as mayor for the town of Fort Gay. I have been dealing with the public for just about my whole adult life. I’ve been coaching football for 31 years in this community.”
Thompson said while there are many issues facing the area, he thinks one crucial need is ensuring opportunities are available to the next generation in southern West Virginia.
“There are a lot of issues that faces the state,” Thompson said. “Our district doesn’t have a whole lot. The southern end of Wayne County and northern end of Mingo County seems to be left out most of the time. Our kids don’t have anything to do in this area. I would like to see some tourism and bring some things in here that would keep our kids at home. Helping with the school system, the CTE programs and working with the unions in our area to get them to offer programs that will keep our kids here.”
Thompson said infrastructure needs also should be addressed to encourage growth in the area.
“Our internet and our roads, they’ve got to be fixed,” Thompson said. “We just need so much in our area. Our parks are horrible; most of them are shut down. We need boat ramps up and down the river so we can get kayaks and boats in the river, that starts bringing tourism in and people start being able to make money.”
Thompson said his previous experience in office mixed with his involvement in the community have allowed him to see what needs to be done.
“My whole life has been dealing with the public in some way, shape, form or fashion,” Thompson said. “I’ve been involved in my community my whole life. I’m with the kids every day. You’ve got to kind of have your thumb on the pulse of what the community needs, and I’m out in it every day and know what we need. I’ve lived here my whole life. Getting out and talking to people, and being that I have been in public office I know what it takes to get grants and things like that because I had to do it when I was mayor and judge. You have to know how to go about reaching out to certain people.”
The house race for the 29th district will be among the other races on the ballot in the general election, set for Tuesday, Nov. 8.