MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU Law Professor Kendra Fershee said a run for Congress wasn’t really in her plans, but she felt people like her were underrepresented.
“I think we need some change in Washington, and I think we need people who are working parents and people who have kids in grade school like I do,” Fershee said on WAJR’s Morgantown AM.
Fershee is running for the Democratic nomination in West Virginia’s First District in May, hoping to challenge Republican David McKinley next November. She said her on-again-off-again desire to run has really been super-charged in the past year.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s something that I thought I would do my whole life,” she said. “But it is something that I have considered from time to time, but really the desire to kind of get involved, get active, be involved in the process of solving problems became an overwhelming push and motivation for me.”
The filing period is still open, but only Fershee and former Orrick CEO Ralph Baxter have filed to run for the Democratic nomination.
“I think [Baxter’s] a really good guy who has done wonderful things for West Virginia, but I think we need people who are a little bit more grounded in the reality of what it means to be a working parent in West Virginia,” Fershee said.
Fershee is hoping her run will send a message to other working mothers: you could do this too. She said candidates like her are often criticized for ‘ignoring their families’ in favor of a career. That, she said, is an unfair attack on working parents.
“I think it’s not meant to be malicious at all,” she said. “I think people don’t even realize that they have sort of a sense of how we’ve ordered ourselves in society. So, that’s another reason why it’s important for women to run and for working parents to run. We need to challenge those assumptions.”
Symbolism aside, Fershee said her top concern is the opioid epidemic, citing a two-track plan of how to tackle the issue.
“There, really, I don’t know is a word that is strong enough in the English language to characterize the dire straits we’re in with respect to opioid addiction right now,” she said. “We’re at twice the number of overdose deaths of any state in the country.”
That plan includes expanding the number of beds available for people seeking rehab and recovery and reinvesting in rural communities facing economic devastation. But, she said, there is another important facet — medical and recreational marijuana. Fershee strongly criticized U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his recent decision to rescind the Cole memos, a set of guiding principles that had eased marijuana enforcement at the federal level. That decision, she believes, puts West Virginia’s medical cannabis law in jeopardy.
“That law could actually help people address pain safely without the heavy duty opioids and could really pump some resources into the economy without taxing people,” she said.
The candidate filing period ends Jan. 27. The primary election is May 8.