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Gubernatorial biographies shared

By Staff | May 11, 2011

Clark Barnes, a Republican, is theDirector of Barnes & Associates, Inc., a hearing health care firm with offices in Kingwood,Fairmont,Elkins,Buckhannon,Rainelle andSummersville. He also serves as President of General Lee Properties, Inc., a construction and development company.

The son of a Baptist minister, Barnes spent his grade school years in the North View section of Clarksburg, the grandson of Erna and Cora (Clark) Barnes. Later his family moved toWest Milford and on toPaden City, in theOhio Valley, where he graduated from High School.Following military service, Clark attended and graduated fromDavis & Elkins College, West Virginia University andPensacola Christian College.

Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, currently serves as acting Governor of West Virginia.

During his adult life, he worked as a school teacher, businessman and entrepreneur in addition to his duties as an elected official.

He was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1974 and served until 1978. In 1980, Tomblin was elected to the West Virginia Senate and has served as a Senator for Logan County since.

Tomblin served as the WV Senate Finance Chair from 1987 until 1995, when he was appointed WV Senate President.

Rick Thompson is a Democrat from Wayne County, W.Va.

When Rick says, “West Virginia owes me nothing. I owe this state everything,” there is no doubt he means it.There is also little doubt that few men who have shared a similar past would feel the same way.

In 1952, six months before his second son would be born, Richard Thompson died in a coalmine accident near Fort Gay.He left his unborn son his name, the only photo of himself and his wife, which was in his wallet, and a lifelong respect for the men who mine coal.The newspaper report said that Rick Thompson was “about 27 years old,” and speculated that a piece of slate fell from the roof and knocked his carbide lamp into a can of blasting powder, causing an explosion.The story did not mention that his older brother was with him when he died. Mining is always a family business.

Like many West Virginians of the past, and unfortunately of the present as well, Rick and his older brother Steve grew up without plumbing.Rick wore the same blue jeans everyday. But he had a granddad, Fred Thompson, who taught him how to hunt squirrel and rabbit and to be honest and to always tell the truth and to always do what you said you would do. Fred Thompson worked in a nursery for minimum wage.

Rick could also count on a bus driver who wouldn’t leave his stop until the boy was on the bus. A woman in the lunchroom who would get him an extra milk to take home, and the cooks who did the same with left over food. The teachers were good to him too, like Mrs. Faye Thompson (no relation) who taught him English.

Although Rick’s uncle became the mayor of Fort Gay, it never occurred to him to run for office himself. It happened almost by accident with a friendly conversation at lunch, but after weekends spent with family and friends walking neighborhoods and knocking on doors, the people of his community sent Rick Thompson to the House of Delegates in 1980.

A year later, he gave up his seat to serve as an assistant prosecuting attorney, to coach little league, and to eventually go back to his legal practice and to marry Miss. Beth Chambers. For the next 22 years, Beth ran the law office, served in her church and her community and raised a family that encourages each other’s strengths and shares each other’s interest from music to hunting to politics. (Yes, Beth hunts too.) When Rick Thompson says, “I couldn’t do it without her,” he means it.

In 2000, Rick Thompson returned to the House of Delegates, winning election to the 17th District, representing Wayne County. One of his first initiatives was to push for a Clean Water Act, to protect West Virginia streams before the federal government stepped in and shut down the state’s coalmines. Seven years later, he was elected Speaker of the House, largely by a band of “back-row” representatives who felt it was time for a more open process with equal participation and fairness in funding.

Rather than circling himself with loyal friends, Speaker Thompson looked at each representative’s talents to decide committee chairmanships. He changed the rules to open debate, and he ended the process by which bills could be bundled together and voted on in block, rather than receiving proper scrutiny.

Today, Rick Thompson is running for Governor. He doesn’t need a job, and he would rather spend his Saturday mornings bow-hunting than giving speeches. (When he does give a speech, he’s often asked to follow it with his guitar and a song.) Those who work in the Capital know that Rick Thompson lacks the ego and the desire for power, too often present in politics today. His vision for the office is one of responsibility and service. More than anyone else, Speaker Thompson has dealt with the diverse and often-competing agendas brought to Charleston from across the state and has proven that he can find a balance and build consensus.

Arne Moltis is a homeowner and business owner from Kanawha County. He is the devoted father of five, who says he will be just as devoted to the State of West Virginia.

A proud Democrat, Moltis is the self-proclaimed “voice of te average man.” He is also a History teacher, although he is not currently teaching.

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Natalie Tennant grew up on a farm near Fairview in Marion County, the youngestof seven children.

Both her parents are educators.She learned the value of a good education and the importance of putting in a hard day’s work baling hay alongside her brothers and sister.

After graduating from North Marion High School and leading the Huskies as their Student Body President, Tennant went to West Virginia University, where she studied broadcasting, and broke barriers becoming the first woman to officially serve as the WVU Mountaineer. In 1991, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism, and in 2002 she obtained a master’s degree in corporate and organizational communication also from WVU. For the next decade Tennant anchored the news in Clarksburg and Charleston, bringing attention to stories that affected the people of West Virginia.

In 2008, Tennant successfully ran for Secretary of State. After a competitive primary, she decisively won the general election and was sworn in as the 29th West Virginia Secretary of State.

During her tenure as Secretary of State, Tennant has dedicated herself to making government accountable and never wasting taxpayer dollars. She cut outdated programs, eliminated excessive spending in her office, and made government more accessible to West Virginians.

As a small business owner herself, Tennant knows the importance of ensuring that business in West Virginia thrives. The largest division Tennant oversees as Secretary of State is business and licensing and she has made efficiency, access, and cutting red tape for small businesses hallmarks of her tenure as Secretary. The work she does there is vital to the economy of West Virginia and literally keeps businesses running. In 2010, as the result of Tennant’s commitment to making the Secretary of State’s Office more business friendly, the number of online filings nearly doubled to more than 16,000.

Tennant has also successfully fought for initiatives to make the voting process more streamlined, secure, and accessible. In just two years as Secretary of State, Tennant helped West Virginia become a worldwide leader in safe and secure online voting for overseas and deployed military, ensuring that our men and women in uniform can cast their ballot when performing their duty for their country.

Tennant and her husband live in Charleston with their daughter, Delaney

Betty Ireland served as West Virginia’s 28th Secretary of State from 2005-2009, the first woman ever to be elected to the state’s executive branch of government.

A Charleston native, Ireland is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, where she serves on the Alumni Association’s Board of Governors. Ireland taught for several years in the West Virginia public school system, and then entered the private sector as a small business owner and executive in the pension business.

Ireland has served on the City of Charleston Board of Zoning Appeals, and was an At-Large representative on the Charleston City Council. She became the state’s first Certified Pension Consultant, and served as Executive Director for the West Virginia Consolidated Public Retirement Board.

Prior to her election as Secretary of State in 2004, Ireland was President & CEO of Jackson Kelly Solutions, LLC. The recipient of two presidential appointments, she served 4 years on the Executive Board of the National Association of Secretaries of State.

Ireland was named one of America’s ‘Top 25 Doers, Dreamers & Drivers’ by Government Technology Magazine in recognition of outstanding initiatives through the use of technology that make government more accessible to the people. She was also selected as a member of the Council of Pacesetters, by the Stennis Center for Public Service, and was honored at its annual Southern Women in Public Service conference.

Ireland is a founding member of the Vandalia Rotary Club of Charleston, a member of the Inaugural Class of graduates of the West Virginia Diversity Leadership Academy, and named 2008 Hero of the Year by the Charleston Public Safety Council for initiating the Address Confidentiality Program for victims of domestic violence. She also serves as a Director to the West Virginia Colleges and Independent Universities Board, and was named a 2009 Honoree of the West Virginia Education Alliance, as a role model for those who were educated in the West Virginia public school system. After leaving public office in January 2009, she joined Parkersburg-based Professional Services of America, Inc., as Senior Vice-President. In May 2010 she joined the Mid-Atlantic Technical, Research & Innovation Center (MATRIC) as Vice-President, Business Relationships.

At its 2009 annual meeting, Ireland was elected to the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, where she serves as an advocate for businesses across the State of West Virginia.

She is married to Sam Haddad, a Whitesville native, and they are the parents of four children, and have four grandchildren.

Republican guberernatorial candidate Mark Sorsaia, native of Hurricane, W.Va. in Putnam County, currently services at the counties prosecuting attnorney.

He is a 1981 graudate of West Virginia University (B.A., Political Science/Public Adminstration) and a 1984 graduate of Ohio Northern Law School.

EDUCATION: WVU (81) BA, Political Science/Public Administration. Ohio Northern Law School (84),

Sorsais has been a public servant for 25 years as a licensed attorney, serving as an assistant prosecuting attorney, city attorney, and now as an elected prosecuting attorney.

He has extensive legal experience in the private sector as an attorney. While in private practice represented clients in the coal industry, as well as in the banking, and construction fields.

Sorsaia is the Vice-President of the National District Attorneys Association, and seves on the Board of Regents National College of District Attorneys .

He has been married 20 years. His wife, Cynthia, is a local teacher and graduate of Marshall University. The couples has two children, Emma (18) and Henry (14).

Larry Faircloth served 24 years in the West Virginia legislature from Berkeley County until 2005.

An alumnus of Shepherd College, he is a real estate broker and developer. He was endorsed by West Virginians for Life and the National Rifle Association throughout his 12 terms in the House of Delegates.

He and his wife Laura, a Martinsburg attorney, have five children.

John Perdue, the state’s 24th Treasurer, has 35 years of experience serving the people of West Virginia. He was elected Treasurer in 1996 after serving eight years as a senior aide to Governor Gaston Caperton.

Under his leadership, the State Treasurer’s Office established the highly successful SMART529 College Savings Program, became a national leader by returning more than $100 million in Unclaimed Property and returned financial integrity back to the Treasurer’s office, helping the state achieve an AA1 bond rating.

Perdue’s efforts to modernize the State Treasurer’s office has reduced the number of printed checks the state issues from five million annually to just one million a year.

The Treasurer is a strong supporter of financial education in the classroom. He is teaming up with the Department of Education to integrate practical financial uses into pre-existing curriculum.

Perdue graduated from Scott High School in Boone County and is a 1972 graduate of West Virginia University. He is a past president of the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST). He is chairman of the WVU College of Agriculture and Forestry Visiting Committee and serves on the West Virginia Board of Trustees of the Leukemia Society of America.

John and his wife Robin are the proud parents of two daughters, Emily and Jessica. They currently reside in Kanawha County.

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Cliff Ellis grew up in Mingo County in the heart of coal country. Cliff learned the value of hard work and perseverance from a young age and his love of the outdoors in the scenic hills of West Virginia. As a young man, Cliff entered into the Army Air Force where he received mechanical training and participated on the boxing team while serving the country. Cliff is a veteran of both WWII and the Korean War.

After his military service, Cliff quickly returned home to West Virginia where he married and raised his family, supporting them on his wages from the coal mines. During his career, Cliff worked throughout mines in West Virginia and had the opportunity to serve on Mine Rescue Teams, as a State Mine Inspector, a Federal Mine Inspector, and a Mine Safety and Health Specialist.

Eager to remain active in the business and public sectors, Cliff received his Masters in Public Administration from American University and his electricians license. He has used this knowledge to obtain several patents in the electrical safety field and operates a small business in professional, scientific, and technical services. Cliff has created the Emergency Alert System that signals a specific need to officials in the event of a widespread emergency, mine safety indicators to ensure that mine inspections are examined properly, and an electrician’s formulae tool.

Cliff married his wife Shirley in Monongalia County where they currently reside. In retirement, Cliff has continued to seek a broad range of experiences through higher education and a variety of endeavors with businesses and the community. In 2004, Cliff was elected Mayor of Westover and was introduced to public service. An active member of the community, he is a member of the VFW, American Legion, NRCC, AARP, NRA, Heritage Foundation, Masonic Lodge, SHRINERS, The American Security Council, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and Judicial Watch.

Mitch Carmichael is the Jackson County representative to the West Virginia legislature. He was first elected in the year 2000 and has been re-elected for five consecutive terms. His talent, vision, and enthusiasm were quickly recognized by his colleagues in the legislature to the extent that he was appointed to the powerful committees on Rules, Finance, and Economic Development. Mr. Carmichael serves in a leadership position as Chairman of the Minority Caucus. His voting record has garnered awards from a variety of organizations. Mr. Carmichael is recognized statewide for his free-market, pro-growth economic policies.

Mitch was raised in the town of Ripleyby loving parents in a middle-class home with his two sisters and brother. He attended public schools in Ripley. His father, Bill Carmichael, was a Navy Veteran, dedicated steel-worker at Kaiser Aluminum Plant, and distinguished West Virginian Public Servant. Mr. Carmichael is a 1978 graduate of Ripley High School and a 1983 honors graduate from Marshall University with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Economics. Upon graduation, Mr. Carmichael was recruited to one of the world’s largest information technology companies. His strong work ethic and exceptional performance eventually garnered Mitch the honor of managing the entire southeast quadrant of the United States in the highly technical field of digital image processing. His accomplishments earned him many industry awards including Top Overall Performer in the financial marketplace.

Mitch’s success and experience led him to his current executive position as General Manager for Frontier Communications in West Virginia. His responsibilities include the delivery and expansion of all Internet/Voice & Data Lines/Video services for a considerable portion of West Virginia. This private sector business experience when coupled with Mitch’s extensive knowledge of state government will enable Mr. Carmichael to immediately become an effective leader for the change that West Virginia so desperately needs.

Mitch resides in Ripley. He is active in many community and charitable organizations including Epworth United Methodist Church, Jackson General Hospital Board, Hospital Foundation Board, Rotary Club, and Main Street-Ripley.

Ralph William Clark is aProfessor and Chair of the Philosophy Department and Coordinator of the Humanities Program at West Virginia University, where he has taught for nearly 40 years.

He was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, and lived as a child on Plum Island, Mass.

He received myB.A., Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Denver and myPh.D. from the University of Colorado.

Ralph has three grown children – two sons and one stepson – and one grandchild.He lives in Morgantown with my wife Suzanne, who is a retired music and second grade teacher.

An Ohio Valley native, Jeff Kessler is the first Acting Senate President in the State’s history. As Acting President in the 2011 legislative session he passed legislation to lower the food tax, to improve access to healthcare, to rescue our volunteer fire departments with emergency funding, and to provide incentives to help spark a rebirth in our chemical and manufacturing industries.

Senator Kessler was originally appointed to the West Virginia Senate in 1997 for the Second District, consisting of Marshall, Wetzel, Tyler, Doddridge, Ritchie, Calhoun, and parts of Marion, Monongahela and Ohio Counties. He was re-elected to that office in 1998, 2000, 2004 and 2008. During the 2003 session, he was appointed as Chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. He also served as Vice-Chairman of the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee and Senate Select Committee on Economic Development.

Senator Kessler played a pivotal role in passing legislation to improve West Virginia. He sponsored the Economic Development Grant Committee and tax increment financing legislation that led to the Cabelas project in Wheeling, Power Alley Park in Charleston, Pullman Square in Huntington, new schools in the Eastern Panhandle, Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute in Morgantown, and other job creating projects.

Senator Kessler authored legislation creating the family court system and domestic relations reform, including shared parenting. He helped draft West Virginia’s medical malpractice law and 2003 Worker’s Compensation reform legislation. He also served as the Senate Chair of the Legislature’s Special Investigative Committee on Mine Safety surrounding the Sago Mine disaster.

Senator Kessler is a founding partner in the law firm of Berry, Kessler, Crutchfield, Taylor & Gordon in Moundsville, where he represents both individuals and businesses in civil matters. Prior to that, he spent more than 16 years as an Assistant Prosecutor in Marshall County. No matter the venue, he has truly established a winning record that is recognized in legal circles throughout the State of West Virginia.

Senator Kessler currently serves on the Board of Directors of Ohio Valley Regional Economic Development Corporation. He formerly served on boards of the United Way, BB&T Bank and the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the West Virginia Law Institute and the WVU College of Law Visiting Committee.

A Bishop Donahue High School alumnus, Jeff graduated with highest honors from West Liberty State College in 1977 with two Bachelor of Art degrees in Economics and Political Science. He went on to receive his J.D. from West Virginia University College of Law in May of 1981.

Jeff resides in Glen Dale with his wife Gretchen, and their children, 21 year old, Jacob; Lauren, age 18; five year old, Jackson; and Hastings, who is two years old. He and his family are members of St. Jude Church.

Bill Maloney is an experienced and dedicated West Virginia business and community leader. He is a conservative who is willing to lead by example, stand by his principles and values, and put the needs of West Virginians first.

Bill’s leadership experience in the business world and in service to his community runs deep. No stranger to hard work, he worked his way up from rig hand to project engineer to founder and executive of leading global drilling companies.

Bill was a co-founder and executive at North American Drillers, North American Pump and Supply Co., and Shaft Drillers International (SDI). He grew SDI from a two-person business in 1984 to become the world-leader in large-diameter shaft drilling for mining and other industries. Bill sold his share of the business in 2006. Currently, he is the principal of Cow Run Energy LLC and Drill Leader LLC.

An active investor in numerous start-up companies and community organizations, Bill is committed to helping others succeed. He doesn’t just invest in ideas or business plans, he invests in people. Bill believes people make all the difference.

An active member of the West Virginia Angel Network, Bill provides needed financial support and guidance to entrepreneurial efforts to diversify West Virginia’s economy in such areas as engineering and construction, specialized manufacturing, banking, media, organic foods, software, and natural resource development. He is also a past president of the Greater Morgantown Community Trust.

Bill is the founder of the Mine Rescue Drilling Fund, which was established to provide critical assistance for mine rescues in the United States and abroad. He started the fund following his efforts in the successful rescue of 33 trapped miners in Chile last year. Convinced their expertise could aid in the rescue of the miners, Bill and his drilling colleagues took action and were the driving force behind rescue “Plan B,” which helped to free the miners.

Bill is an active member of the Society of Mining Engineers, the West Virginia Coal Mining Institute, the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, and the National Groundwater Association. He is a past chairman of the West Virginia chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors.

Bill, 52, has been married to Sharon Maloney for 29 years. They have two daughters. The Maloneys reside in Monongalia County and attend Chestnut Ridge Church. Bill is a graduate of Lehigh University with a degree in industrial engineering.