CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Delegate Jason Harshbarger (R-Ritchie, 07) says he believes residents in his county voted against the road bond amendment because of a lack of confidence in state lawmakers to spend West Virginia’s money wisely.
“We’ve seen a lot of corruption in the Department of Highways, we’ve seen kick back schemes and I think that really rubbed my constituents wrong,” Harshbarger said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Ritchie County was the only county to vote down the road bond in Saturday’s Special Election.
Unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s office showed about a 3 to 1 margin in favor of the bond issue. The bond passed with 73 percent of the vote.
Harshbarger, who opposed the bond, said several factors contributed to “no” votes from Ritchie County residents. He said a lot of people are unhappy with DMV and gasoline tax hikes.
“The constituents of Ritchie County is very conscious of their taxes,” he said. “I received a lot of feedback after that Special Session that a lot of people were upset about that because the increase in their taxes for DMV.”
Residents are concerned about the general condition of the roads, Harshbarger said, especially with the oil and gas traffic.
“We do have a lot of oil and gas traffic in our county. We have a lot of rural roads too that these constituents have been years without the getting the ditches cleaned out and the brush cut backs, so that’s been a lot of frustration.”
Delayed construction on the U.S. Route 50 bridge has also been frustrating, Harshbarger said.
“There’s been some issues with contractors there. There’s been no work that’s been going on for about 4-5 weeks and that’s the major artery for people in Ritchie County to get to work and also shop,” he said.
In all, Richie County had 419 “no” votes and 364 “yes” votes. Governor Jim Justice said Monday he wants to find out what happened.
The governor announced a Special Session will start Monday at the state Capitol.