Of the 17 West Virginia State Senate races to be decided Nov. 6, 16 are contested. The following is part of a series of stories brought to you by the MetroNews team.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Senator Dave Sypolt of Preston County is finishing up his 12th year in the West Virginia Senate. He hopes to go back for another term and believes he deserves it.
“West Virginia was described as ‘business unfriendly'” said Sypolt of his first years in Charleston. “We needed to change that climate and that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’ve seen a U-turn in the West Virginia economy in the last few years, and I’m proud to have been a part of that.”
As the state has become more business friendly, Sypolt believes the atmosphere has improved the state’s opportunities. But he thinks the real opportunity for West Virginia is a narrow window and surrounds the current gas boom which he believes the state may never get again.
“This is the one time in history we have an opportunity to absolutely change the direction of our state,” he explained. “I have been an advocate for designating the Appalachian area for an Ethane Storage Hub. If that were to happen, everything would be in place for ethane crackers and downstream manufacturing. ”
Sypolt is part of the GOP majority and thinks his work has been exactly what the state has needed—although in his mind there is more to be done.
“I’ve done exactly what I said we wanted to do,” he explained. “We wanted to bring accountability to government, downsize government and take care of duplicity to make sure we’re spending the best that we can. We also wanted to provide an environment where business can prosper, because when businesses can prosper, workers prosper also.”
His Democrat opponent Stephanie Zucker couldn’t disagree more. Zucker is a newcomer to politics. She’s never run for office. She has degrees in ecology and environmental science, but has spent most of her married life working as the manager for her husband’s veterinarian business. She’s also spent a lot of time providing constant care to her mother. She laughs her decision to run was a lot like most other things in her life, she did it because somebody needed to do it.
“I became aware that no one was planning to run in this race against the incumbent,” she said. “I didn’t feel good about having one of 34 Senate seats unopposed. I definitely didn’t feel good about what’s been going on.”
She has a laundry list of items in Charleston which irritate her. She was angered by the prospects of an intermediate court which was eventually rejected. She wants to see the prevailing wage requirement restored and the right to work legislation eliminated. She’s interested in undoing the past two years since the GOP took control in Charleston.
“I just think what we’be been doing as a state has been politically divisive, and hasn’t really focused on the needs of West Virginia,” she said.
Zucker wants to see a permanent solution to PEIA. She stood with West Virginia teachers in February when they marched on the Capitol and went on strike for better pay and benefits. She learned during the rally what state workers, and teachers with masters degrees earned. She bristled at the figure.
“You’ve got a lot of people working public jobs who are eligible for anti-poverty programs.” Zucker explained. “This is not a respectful way to treat people who work for the state.”
The 14th District includes Barbour, Hardy, Preston, Tucker, and Taylor Counties-and includes parts of Monongalia, Mineral and Grant counties.