FENWICK, W.Va. — On Tuesday, Nicholas County resident Caleb Hanna accomplished a feat that is exceedingly rare among 19-year-old college students: winning an election for a seat in his state legislature.
Following a landslide victory in the May primary, Hanna, R-Nicholas, was elected by a nearly 2-to-1 margin to represent the citizens in House District 44. He told MetroNews affiliate WJLS-AM he has always had an interest in government and politics, and became increasingly motivated to become a candidate because of dissatisfaction with what he described as ineffective leadership at the state capitol and within his own district.
“I always told myself, when I had the chance, I would try to make a difference and I would do something myself,” he explained. “The incumbent that I ran against (Dana Lynch, D-Nicholas), he had been county assessor for 30-some years. He was in the House of Delegates for three terms. He was a career politician and, frankly, he was just there to collect a paycheck. He never passed a piece of legislation that he sponsored.”
Hanna said he plans to be proactive in pushing for the elimination of the state tax on Social Security, which he described as a net-loss for the state’s economy. He also said the issue has not received the attention it merits, partly because of complacency among his future colleagues.
“That tax really does make up for a large percent of revenue within the state, and we just haven’t directed enough attention to it to figure out what alternative sources of revenue we could look at. I did not support getting rid of the food tax, to be honest, and I think if we re-implemented that food tax to not 6 percent but 4 percent and we took that money, we could really make a difference,” he said.
Hanna, a graduate of and former class president at Richwood High School, is majoring in economics at West Virginia State University. He told WJLS he is not necessarily committed to the idea of a career in politics, but wants to serve in government for as long as he believes his efforts are having a positive impact on people’s lives.