Delegate Jason Barrett is announcing his bid for a state Senate seat, the latest of several delegates to do so and probably not the last.
Barrett, R-Berkeley, announced today he’ll run to represent the 16th Senate District, which covers all of Jefferson and part of Berkeley counties. It’s a seat long held by Democrat John Unger, who resigned to become a county magistrate this year. Senator Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, is the other current representative of the district.
“I think it really comes down to, that I’ll be able to help the people of this community, of the Eastern Panhandle, in a bigger way,” Barrett said this week in a telephone interview.
“We have very unique challenges here in the Eastern Panhandle. Obviously we’ve seen a lot of population growth, which is clearly a good thing — but there are challenges that come with that as well. So I look forward to being able to serve in a greater capacity as state senator.”
Other currently-serving delegates, including Republicans Ben Queen of Harrison County and Joshua Higginbotham, who served Putnam County, have made similar decisions in recent weeks. There has been talk that other such announcements may be in the works.
“I think it’s a little bit of a natural progression, but for me it’s to have a bigger voice and more ability to help the people of the Eastern Panhandle,” Barrett said. “As we all know, there are 100 members of the House and in the Senate there are 34 members. So it’s easier to have more of an impact. Committee assignments for the senators is far greater. And it’s a heavier workload, no doubt about it.”
Barrett was first elected to the House of Delegates as a Democrat from 2012 to 2014. He was defeated for re-election in 2014. Then he resumed office starting in 2016.
This past December, he announced he would switch parties to become a Republican.
The seat he is running to represent is currently held by Democrat Hannah Geffert of Martinsburg, who was appointed to succeed Unger a month ago.
The 2022 West Virginia Primary Election is set for May 10.
Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, issued a statement welcoming Barrett to the race for Senate. Blair said that when they have worked together, Barrett has provided a logical and thoughtful approach.
“Jason has my complete support and endorsement in this race,” Blair stated. “I believe he will be an excellent addition to the West Virginia state Senate. I look forward to having him on our team as we continue to push our great state into prosperity.”
Barrett said he wants to focus on issues such as expanding broadband access as well as rolling back taxes on vehicles as well as on inventory and machinery.
“Number one is being fiscally responsible, continuing the flat line budget that the state has had, the General Revenue Budget over the past couple of years. I think taxpayers appreciate the fiscal conservatism the Legislature has brought to the table over the past several years. We have really started to build West Virginia’s comeback,” he said.