CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two-term Democratic state Senator Ron Miller is leaving the Legislature and taking a role as an agriculture liaison with Gov. Jim Justice’s administration.
“I requested an opportunity to work with the governor with his agricultural goals economically,” said Miller, a Greenbrier County resident. “I was chairman of agriculture for several years in the Senate, and it’s a real passion. He was very interested in that. He’s the first governor I can remember who really emphasized agriculture.”
Miller’s resignation was submitted today, and he’ll join the Justice administration at the first of next month.
Among those offering public support was state Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt.
“I have always worked well with Ron. It is refreshing to see that our state’s leaders are finally taking agriculture seriously. With the right team, I know agriculture will be a part of West Virginia’s comeback story,” Leonhardt said.
“We are moving full steam ahead to grow agriculture in our state. I’m extremely happy the Governor is jumping on board.”
Justice, whose family has large agriculture, land and timber holdings, emphasized the potential of agriculture during his gubernatorial campaign, often saying there’s no reason West Virginia shouldn’t have a niche crop, the way Idaho is known for potatoes.
Along with Leonhardt, Justice relaunched the state Agriculture Advisory Board this past summer to cooperate and help West Virginia’s agricultural system reach its potential — and also to keep wires from being crossed among groups with similar scopes.
Miller owns CreighBerHill Farm in Greenbrier County, not far from the governor’s own home.
“He was very interested in talking about it and working with me, and he wanted someone who understood his dream about agriculture,” Miller said. “He wanted someone who could also operate as a liaison with the commissioner. I’ve been able to work with both parties. We don’t always agree on everything but we agree to work together. Agriculture is not political at all.”
Miller was first elected to the Senate in 2010, representing District 10. He is a former pastor of Shuck Memorial and West Point Baptist Churches. Miller and his wife, Cindy, have three children.
He’d already decided not to run for re-election this coming election.
“I had decided a couple of years ago not to run again,” Miller said. “I figured two terms was long enough for me. The senator before me did two terms, the senator before him did two terms. It just seems to fit our area, and how we feel about it. We’re not career political people.”
He said he’ll miss serving in the Senate, though.
“I’ll miss my colleagues and people I work with,” he said. “I’ll particularly miss staff. I’ll really miss working with staff in the Senate. They’re top notch. I’ll miss wrestling with issues. I enjoyed it more when we were in the majority. I love the Senate, I really love the Senate.”