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NAME: Erika Kolenich
CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia governor
HOME COUNTY: Upshur
BIOGRAPHY: Erika resides in Upshur County with her husband and daughter. She was raised in West Virginia and operates a law firm that focuses in litigation. She has devoted her career to representing West Virginians. Erika enjoys volunteering for a variety of community and civic organizations from theatre to Head Start and the Chamber of Commerce. Kolenichforwv.com
1. What changes would you recommend for responding to any future state emergencies such as COVID-19 which would increase overall preparedness and assist those affected by the emergency?
Immediately convey accurate and transparent information in order to not lose the trust of West Virginians. Put citizens first, including sidestepping federal hurdles standing in the way. In order for citizens and businesses to make informed decisions, it is imperative to have an open exchange of information. Government exists to protect us, not to prohibit us.
2. How would you prioritize using the funds provided to West Virginia by the CARES Act and other COVID-19 relief funds?
I would consult with the Legislature and prioritize funds for public health, such as testing for all citizens who desire it. Secondly, I would allocate funds to the areas affected the most by COVID-19 such as education resources to minimize disruption to children’s learning and development and invest in childcare to minimize disruption to families and businesses during modified operations.
3. Lack of broadband access limits employment and educational opportunities in many parts of West Virginia. What should be done to make broadband available statewide?
Utilizing the cost savings from my other programs, such as criminal justice reform, and partnering with the private sector will allow us to devote the proper amount of resources to slowly and manageably grow broadband in underserved areas.
4. What do you hope to accomplish as Governor?
I will build a relationship of trust with all West Virginians and will put their best interests above political gamesmanship and special interest agendas. Additionally, I hope to decrease the number of young people leaving our state, fully decriminalize cannabis, ignite economic development and curb wasteful spending.
5. What experience, training or education do you have that would make you an effective Governor?
I am a business owner, wife, daughter and mother. I do my best as a lawyer to represent West Virginians and improve their lives and I understand their needs and problems. I am experienced leading organizations compiled of vastly different individuals and have the skills necessary to bring people together from varying backgrounds together in order to solve problems.