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NAME: Susan Shelton Perry
CANDIDATE FOR: W.Va. House of Delegates, 24th District (most of Logan, part of Boone and Wyoming counties)
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.susansheltonperry2020.com or Facebook: Susan for WV 2020
HOME CITY: Logan
HOME COUNTY: Logan County
EDUCATION: I am a graduate of Logan High School, Marshall University, and the WVU College of Law.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Retired attorney
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Staff attorney for Appalachian Research and Defense, 1981-82; Perry and Perry Attorneys at Law, 1982-86; Family Law Master 1986-1997; Assistant General Counsel, WV Bureau for Child Support Enforcement 99-2001; Commissioner, WV BCSE, 2001-2009; Deputy Secretary, WV DHHR 2010-2012; Temporary Family Court Judge (part-time) 2013-2017.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Logan Lions Club, Board of Directors of the Logan County Child Advocacy Center, Board of Directors of Southern Coalition for the Arts.
ENDORSEMENTS: American Federation of Teachers, WV School Service Personnel Association, Mountain Mamas
FAMILY: husband, Roger Perry; two adult sons, Matthew of Elkins and Phillip of Harrisonburg, VA; two granddaughters and a daughter-in-law.
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I support fair wages, strong schools, small businesses and rights of workers. I don’t cross picket lines, I don’t accept corporate donations and I don’t think charter schools are right for WV.
1. With the decline in the extraction industries in West Virginia, what do you think should be done to diversify the state’s economy?
It is unlikely that one big industry will dominate our economy in the future, but recycling can be a source of jobs and we should be gearing up to start small recycling businesses in each region. Many solar panels are made outside the country. We can re-tool to meet what will become a part of a growing industry.
2. Do you support recent weakening of EPA regulations concerning air and water quality? Why or why not?
When I was growing up in Logan County the Guyandotte River was polluted and smelly. It wasn’t suitable for kayaking or canoeing. Today our river is much cleaner and small businesses are springing up in southern WV to cater to increasing numbers of recreational tourists. We need sensible regulations that keep our air and water clean.
3. What role do you see for state government in reversing West Virginia’s population decline?
Ads targeted to seniors should highlight our low cost of living, a variety of health care options and recreational opportunities. Remote work hubs with excellent WiFi capabilities would appeal to younger workers. Taking a positive stand on fairness for all and on solar purchase agreements will be attractive to national employers.
4. The state’s foster care system struggles to care for 7,000-plus children who are now in it. Some action has been taken in recent months, but what further action do you think might be necessary?
Foster parents need higher pay, but the real problem we need to address is the reason that our foster care population is exploding, the substance abuse crisis. We need more funding for in-patient treatment and a large expansion of after-treatment, community-based recovery services, like transportation, low-interest small business loans, and drug courts.
5. There have been several attempts to reduce taxes on business in the state, including one failed in this past legislative session. Is it wise to keep pursuing tax breaks for business at the possible expense of residential taxpayers? Do you think the state’s tax structure needs an overhaul?
For several years now the WV Legislature has reduced or attempted to reduce several taxes on businesses. These efforts have not shown the promised job or revenue increases. At this time our Governor should convene a Futures Summit to bring together industry leaders to help set a course for where we need to be in 5, 10 and 20 years.
6. Do you think the educational reform bill passed in 2019 is working/will be effective?
No. I believe that charter schools will take desperately needed funding away from our public schools. To cope with the issues related to substance abuse in our community we need more social workers and counselors in schools so that teachers can have the opportunity to teach.
7. How would you describe efforts so far to add more support staff in the state’s schools to help children in troubled homes?
Good effort, but we still need more counselors and social workers. Teachers need time to teach. They can’t teach while they are also acting as therapists.
8. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?
We need more options for skills training and better advertising for the opportunities that are available. Pet grooming and kennel care, solar installation and maintenance are examples of the types of trainings needed. Then we need low-income loans and training on how to start your business.
9. 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?
We always need treatment beds, but, just as critically, we need post-recovery, community-based services, such as job training and placement, transportation services, safe housing, help with obtaining record expungements. We need more drug courts, which haven proven to be cheap and effective, and Family Treatment Courts. They are newer but showing a lot of promise.
10. How would you improve the state’s access to broadband internet?
This must be a partnership between private enterprise, state government and local governments, with the state and cities chipping in enough money to get the job done. We need local, secure, attractive WiFi-enabled spots that could serve as temporary work sites for employees whose companies permit this. We can give tax-incentives to those private enterprises who participate.
NEW GENERAL ELECTION QUESTIONS
11. How would you prioritize using the funds provided to WV by the CARES Act and other COVID-19 relief funds?
Greater access to PPE for First Responders and teachers, subsidize Internet access for low-income students, more classroom aides to assist teachers in answering questions from on-line students.
12. What changes in current election laws would you favor to make voting safer and more accessible?
No one should need a reason to vote by Absentee Ballot. Absentee Ballots should be available for anyone who wishes to vote that way. Drop boxes should be available in each county for people who don’t want to return their ballot by mail.
13. Lack of broadband access limits employment and educational opportunities in many parts of West Virginia. What should be done to make broadband available statewide?
See my answer to Question 10.
14. Given COVID-19, how do you propose we protect our students, teachers and school service personnel while at the same time providing equal access to a quality education across the state?
Subsidize Internet for low-income families if it’s available and use WV Public Broadcasting to teach standard lessons for others.
15. What experience, training or education do you have that would make you an effective state legislator?
When I worked for BCSE and DHHR I was designated as a legislative liaison, meaning that I presented to legislative committees, met with legislators, and provided information to them. I am an attorney, trained to read and understand laws.