Clements, Longwell Vying in W.Va. Senate Race
West Virginia Senator Charles Clements, an incumbent Republican, and Denny Longwell, a Democrat, are battling for the second district seat at the West Virginia State Senate.
Clements is a 1961 graduate of Scott High School in Madison, W.Va. and a 1966 graduate of West Virginia University. He served two years on active duty with the U.S. Army and an additional seven years in the Army Reserve. He was the owner of Clements Oil Company from 1970 until 2004. He worked at H&R Block from 2004 until his appointment to the state Senate in 2017.
Clements served in the House of Delegates from 2005-2008. He is serving as the executive director of the WV2 and Interstate 68 Authority and was appointed to the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways. Gov. Jim Justice appointed Clements to fill the Senate seat vacated when Kent Leonhardt was elected to become state commissioner of agriculture.
Clements was married to Eugenia Morris on March 1, 1968. They have two children and four grandchildren.
Denny Longwell is a military veteran. He worked for 14 years in construction as a member of Ironworkers Local 549 (Wheeling). He worked 16 years at Conalco (Hannibal) in the Maintenance Department. He worked for 18 years for the Steelworkers Union.
Longwell is married to Wetzel County native, Susie Huggins (Longwell). Longwell has one daughter, one step-daughter, one step-son and three grandchildren.
Longwell retired June 1, 2014. He is an amateur radio operator. He is a member of the Moose Lodge, New Martinsville. Longwell is a registered Democrat and was honored by the State Democratic Party in November 2017, being awarded the Chairwoman’s Award for 2017.
The Wetzel Chronicle mailed each candidate three simple questions. Here is how they responded:
Wetzel Chronicle: We are sure being a political figure can bring a fair share of criticism. What is a common misconception folks have about you and/or your platform?
Charles Clements: One of the biggest problems I face is the criticism by people who do not understand what must be done to pass legislation in Charleston. Often times the “behind the scenes” activity on legislation is more important than what takes place on the floor of the House or Senate. Committee work is very important, yet it does not receive the coverage that action on the floor receives. I try to relate to people that I have nothing to gain personally from serving, except to see WV move away from its unsuccessful past economic history.
Denny Longwell: People are skeptical about politicians. A lot of that cynicism is legitimate due to the past record of many politicians. Citizens have lost confidence in our State and National government. Citizens aren’t being represented. Our citizens lump all Legislators into one pile; a pile of people who are neither worthy of trust nor confidence. I am not just another politician. We deserve Legislators that are public servants. Our citizens deserve a public servant that genuinely wants to put citizens first. For those that have the misconception that all politicians are not worthy of respect and confidence, they deserve to experience a public servant that will allay that misconception. Working for the issues that are important to our citizens will restore the confidence of our citizens.
WC: What motivated you to seek this office?
CC: I have always been fascinated by the legislative process; I was fortunate enough to have won a “Golden Horseshoe” when in the 8th grade. I remember attending legislative sessions and hoping that someday I would be part of the process. I will refer to the next question as my main motivation to seek election to the Senate. For many years, we have let government just” grind along” without questioning why. One party control for over 80 years has allowed the state to fall behind in many areas. I want to see a change whereby the government serves the people and not the other way around.
DL: Citizens, currently, do not have a voice in our Legislature. This State needs to hear the voices of our citizens. Our Legislators need to carry-out representation of their constituencies. Currently, and in a general sense, our citizens are being neglected and ignored in favor of big money, big oil, big gas, big pharma, big energy and so on. But citizens need to take a step of trust by getting out to vote and vote for the candidate who will represent their issues. A Legislator is only as good as their constituents make them. Voters need to hold politicians accountable. I won’t hide from anyone. I’ve been to many county courthouses in this campaign. They tell me they rarely see any of the elected Legislators from our State Senate. I will visit with the County Commissions and other elected county representatives as much as possible. We don’t have to agree on every issue, but we must work together to make our Senate District as good as it can be for our citizens.
WC: Give your vision for West Virginia for the next five years. As a Senator, how would you like to help pave the pathway for that vision?
CC: We have been blessed with an abundance of natural gas in our state. For years coal was king and supported the state by providing jobs and revenue for the state. While I support coal, we must, unfortunately, realize that we can no longer depend on coal as the major economic driver in the state. The demand for coal is not as high as it once was, and we have experienced falling prices.
While the natural gas development has brought much wealth to our mineral owners, it has created headaches for many of our citizens. We are trying to get our problems under control. The biggest opportunity, however comes from the development of the products derived from the natural gas. I quit saying if they announce the cracker plant in Dillies Bottom to when they make the announcement. Once that announcement is made this valley and West Virginia will see economic development as we have never seen before.
Shale Crescent USA has the figures to show the advantages of locating in our area versus the Gulf Coast. With the development of these industries, we will see permanent, good paying jobs come to our area. We need to get ready; for too many years, West Virginia has been reactionary, not pro-active. Let’s improve our infrastructure, improve our schools and provide a drug-free workforce. I will work to achieve these goals for a better West Virginia.
DL: The next five years needs to see significant enhancement to our educational standing. Placing 44th out of 50 states in education is not acceptable to me. We have great teachers and school service personnel; we must give them our full support.
In addition to education enhancement, we must work to provide jobs for our citizens. It is a proven fact that when a State has quality educational opportunities, new businesses come to that State, bringing new jobs for our citizens.
Third, we need to address healthcare. No senior citizen nor any child should be without healthcare in West Virginia. Many other issues need addressed but these are the top three that are important to the majority of our citizens according to polls and surveys.
I can, and will, help pave that pathway by being a voice for every citizen. By being my own person, listening to the needs of my constituency, proving to them that I am a worthy representative will restore the credibility and integrity that is missing, and that will make West Virginia a stronger, more appealing State wherein our citizens enjoy that common pride of knowing we are all in this together and are moving forward with everyone’s best interest at the core of our actions. “Montani Semper Liberi” does not hold true presently. The good citizens (Mountaineers) are being held hostage by the tenacious grip of big money, big pharma, big energy and fickle, inconstant politicians. People will know that I care.