WILLIAMSON — West Virginia House of Delegates District 20 member Nathan Brown (D-Mingo) said his decision to step away from state-level politics and enter the Mingo County Commission race was one he gave a considerable amount of thought to.
“What I personally think I can bring to the table is a broad skill set that I’ve developed through years of working as a coal miner underground, I’ve managed in coal companies, and I went back to law school, and I have a master's in business degree. I have an undergraduate degree in accounting, and I have been a lawyer for nearly a decade. I’ve spent eight years as an assistant prosecutor.
“I know we have drug issues in our county, and I have ideas regarding how we can approach those, and I have functioned as a municipal attorney so I understand the interaction between county and municipal government. Those relationships are important. Being in the state legislature gives me an overview regarding how what happens in the state impacts people locally. Tapping into those connections that I have can really help Mingo County.”
The seat of Commission President Thomas Taylor will be open in the 2022 election. Taylor, a Republican, has not announced his intentions to run again or not. On Aug. 11, the Mingo County Commission appointed Republican Marty Fortner via an elimination procedure to fill its vacant seat left by the death of Commissioner Gavin Smith on June 7, who had four years left on his term. The third commissioner is Democrat Diann Hannah, who was elected in 2018.
The filing period for the 2022 election cycle begins Jan. 10.
Brown – in his second term – participated in the special session in Charleston last month.
“The primary function of the special session was to vote on congressional maps for the U.S. Congress regarding the statehouse maps in the state of West Virginia,” he said. “We had a population shift as seen by the U.S. Census, and there was some debate within the body about what was best, and we saw several proposed maps.”
Some of the maps divided West Virginia from east to west and some from north to south, which were the maps that passed via the vote.
“I think that map gives southern West Virginia the best opportunity to keep a representative n Congress,” he added. “If we had passed the east to west map, you would have always had representatives from the Eastern Panhandle.”
The east to west map would have placed Mingo County and Berkeley County in the same Congressional District.
“It goes without saying that Berkeley County has nothing in common with Mingo County,” he added. “Maybe the rural population of southern West Virginia is so that it is difficult to produce a map, but I’m happy with the results.
“Now we have a district running from McDowell County down to almost Lenore and another district for Lenore down to Fort Gay and the people in what we call the lower end of the county aren’t real happy with that, and that is unfortunate.”
Brown discussed House Bill 335, which passed and is related to COVID-19 immunizations requirements for employment in the public and private sectors while providing for exemptions regarding religious beliefs.
“People referred to it as the “mandate bill” and many people misconstrued what that bill was,” he said. “It was not a mandate to employers that you cannot issue vaccine requirements as they can still do that. It simply states if you are going to do it you’ve got to accept these deeply held religious beliefs as exemptions to these vaccines. That standard is lax when it comes to federal law, and that is where the business community and hospital association had some heartburn because there was that if we comply with House Bill 335, we will not be complying with federal law and that that somewhat jeopardizes our ability to draw in resources from Medicare and Medicaid, which is how medical facilities operate. Predominately.
“Some folks feel it is a function of basic safety, and I don’t think vaccination requirements are a new concept, but I certainly get the personal freedom right to choose which makes for an interesting and valid argument.”
Nathan Brown is married to Brandy Brown, and they have three children: Garrett, Grayson and Gavin.