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Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango, a candidate for governor in the Democratic primary of the 2020 West Virginia gubernatorial election, poses for a photo in downtown Logan during his visit to Logan County on Dec. 30, 2019.

LOGAN — Ben Salango, a Democratic candidate for West Virginia governor in the 2020 election, visited Logan County on Monday, Dec. 30, to meet with potential voters ahead of the upcoming primary.

Accompanied by West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue (D), Salango visited various parts of the county, meeting with voters and getting a feel for the area’s needs. Salango, who grew up in Raleigh County, currently serves on the Kanawha County Commission, which he joined in 2017 and was elected to fully in 2018.

Salango says the primary focus of his campaign is on economic development, which includes diversifying the state’s dominant economy and expanding tourism. He touted the turnaround of a golf course in Kanawha County he says went from losing $100,000 per year to being a premier sports complex that now brings in more than $50 million per year.

“A lot of the things I’ve done in Kanawha County to bring new jobs in and to really bring an economic boost to that area, I can do statewide,” Salango said. “I’m really interested in tourism. I think that we can really add to the Hatfield-McCoy Trail and really expand on it and have a big boost in the economy.”

Salango has received endorsements from labor unions and former West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton (D). He describes himself as a moderate Democrat who sees good and bad ideas from both sides of the political aisle.

“People are looking for a Democrat that can take on Jim Justice — somebody that’s not too far left, someone who’s more in the middle — a commonsense Democrat,” Salango said. “I’m a moderate. I’m in the middle. I think there are good ideas — I don’t care if it’s a Democrat idea, a Republican idea, all I care is it’s a good idea. That’s the way I’ve been my entire life, that’s the way I’ve been on the county commission. That’s why we’ve had progress in Kanawha County.”

Salango said he plans to visit Logan County more in the coming months.

“I’m just an hour away, so I’m going to be down here quite a bit and get out as much as possible and shake hands, meet people, let them know what I stand for, spread the message and get as much support as I can,” Salango said.

Salango lives in Charleston and has practiced law for 21 years. He attended the West Virginia University College of Law. He is a former investor in HD Media, which owns the Charleston Gazette-Mail, The Herald-Dispatch, the Logan Banner and other newspapers, but has since sold his shares.

Salango announced his candidacy in October and joins Jody Murphy, Cecil Silva, Stephen Smith, Ron Stollings and Edwin Ray Vanover in the currently declared list of Democratic gubernatorial candidates. The primary election is Tuesday, May 12.

Dylan Vidovich is a news reporter for HD Media. Contact him by phone at 304-896-5196.