NAME: Susan Shelton Perry

CANDIDATE FOR: W.Va. House of Delegates, District 24 (most of Logan, part of Boone and Wyoming)

PARTY: Democrat

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: https://www.facebook.com/SusanSheltonPerryForHouse/

HOME CITY: Neibert

HOME COUNTY: Logan

PERSONAL STATEMENT: I am a retired public employee, life-long resident of Logan County, running for the first time for elected office. I chose to leave part-time employment to be eligible to run for the House because I am fed up with the way that our Legislature disregards the needs of our citizens from southern West Virginia. While our economic success powered the improvements and advances our state enjoyed in the 20th Century, when we suffered an economic decline, our state was not quick to offer us a helping hand. I’m ready to work with you to begin rebuilding our economy.

AGE: 64

EDUCATION: I am a graduate of Logan High School, Marshall University, and the WVU College of Law.

CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: I am a retired public employee.

OTHER WORK HISTORY: I began my career as a social worker for DHHR. After attending law school I returned to this county to set up a private practice. I was appointed by Governor Moore in the first class of Family Law Masters in this state and I served there for ten years. I returned to DHHR after leaving the court system, and worked at all levels within DHHR for 14 years. After retirement from DHHR, I returned to the court system and worked intermittently as a Temporary Family Court Judge for the last four years. I resigned that part-time employment in January 2018 so that I could be eligible to run for the House of Delegates.

CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: I am a past president/current secretary of the Logan Lions Club, a member of First Presbyterian Church of Logan, immediate past Moderator of the Presbytery of West Virginia, a member of the Board of Directors of the Logan Mingo Child Advocacy Center, member of the Board of Directors of Southern Coalition for the ARTS, member of the Board of Directors for Davis Stuart Residential Treatment Facility for Adolescents in Lewisburg, WV.

ENDORSEMENTS: I have received the endorsement of the Logan County Education Association Political Action Committee, the AFL-CIO COPE Committee, and the AFT Boone County COPE.     

FAMILY: husband, Roger Perry; two sons, Phillip and Matthew; granddaughters, Elyssa and Livia Perry.

1. Are you satisfied with how the state legislature has addressed developing and balancing the state budget? Please explain.

West Virginia’s Constitution requires our Legislature to present a balanced budget and they fulfill that obligation yearly. But many years they have balanced that budget on the backs of state workers, teachers, service personnel, and their retirees. By failing repeatedly to consider modest raises they caused these workers to take drastic measures this year to obtain a salary increase that was overdue.

2. What new or additional measures are necessary to create a safe and healthy environment for all West Virginians?

Require companies who frack to provide the state with the content of the liquid that goes into the ground. Provide a state income tax credit for the purchase price and installation costs of alternative energy sources for homeowners and businesses. Do not permit logging in state parks and forests. Provide a tax credit for the purchase of electric vehicles. 

3. What do you think the role of the legislature should be in developing a more diversified economy in the state?

Providing tax credits has worked in some states, but others, such as Florida and Michigan, have taken a more hands-on approach. In their model, the government would organize a unit to act as a problem-solver for companies interested in locating in WV, and as a consultant for companies that have the potential to grow. This could be located in our Department of Commerce.

4. What measures could help prevent gun violence and mass shootings?

Creating a process where an officer, teacher or loved one can file a quick petition with the courts, be heard almost immediately, and have an emergency order issued to temporarily remove any weapons from the person’s control, and send the person for an evaluation for behavioral health treatment.

5. With the increased incidence of black lung disease in recent years, does more need to be done to protect miners’ health and safety?

Yes. Mandatory yearly medical screenings are needed to catch the disease early. MSHA should receive the reports to determine if a pattern emerges. Our legislature rolled back some protections for mine safety within the last two years. The previous protections should be reinstated.

6. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?

School guidance counselors should be available in middle schools, should be reviewing testing results for all children to steer them into appropriate programs. Funding should be made available to permit students to attend after-school, extracurricular programs in areas of interest. We should expand the PROMISE scholarship eligibility to persons who graduated within the last five years. 

7. West Virginia has been especially hard hit by the opioid abuse epidemic. What do you see as the role of the legislature in addressing this crisis?

Our legislature should provide additional funding to open additional treatment beds in WV. Standards should be developed to classify and evaluate programs so that persons searching for a treatment bed can easily determine what services are offered at each facility.

8. What should be done long-term to fix PEIA health insurance for state employees?

A.) Dedicate a source of revenue that is adequate to meet the needs – raising the severance tax on natural gas is a proposal that I support. B.) Evaluate whether the state can contract with a private insurer at a lower cost.

9. What measures do you support on fracking/horizontal drilling that would protect people living near drilling sites?

Companies involved in fracking should be required to disclose to the state the contents of the liquid that is pumped into the ground.

10. What can the state government do to improve educational achievement in West Virginia?

Participation in extra-curricular activities such as band, chorus, and sports has been shown to improve educational achievement and behavior in students. Transportation can be a barrier for the participation of students, particularly as schools are consolidated. Make funding available to provide transportation so that more children can participate in extra-curricular activities after school.

11. How would you improve the state’s access to broadband internet?

Currently, broadband internet is not provided directly by this state. It is treated similarly to cable and phone services – they are regulated by the state but not provided by the state. If we, as a state, believe that broadband is vital to our state’s economic growth, then we may want to consider it more like highways, which are provided by the state.