A Champion legislator for the people of West Virginia is vacating his seat in just a few months, but State Senate Minor Leader Jeff Kessler is leaving behind a truly memorable legacy.
In 1997 Jeff Kessler was sworn into the West Virginia Senate and has worked to take care of the people of the Mountain State and their families, but after a long ride Kessler will hang up his hat come January and he said, “It’s been one heck of a journey.”
19-years spent working to develop legislation to help the people of the Mountain State and in less four months he’ll be onto other ventures. His time in office has turned some pretty significant agreements with everlasting impacts here and beyond, “It started with the Tax Increment Financing model that’s been so successful now in the state. It started in Wheeling with the Downtown Wheeling project and we sort of morphed into the Cabela’s,” Kessler said.
So successful that other cities across West Virginia have adopted the plan to bring economic growth to their areas. Cities like Morgantown and Charleston. Locally the TIF has created more than 3,200 jobs at the Highlands and has brought in millions of dollars worth of investments to the once vacant field atop two-mile hill, “Had we just taken one percent of our coal severance tax in 1975 and put it in the bank, we’d have $8 billion today.”
That’s one thing Kessler would like to have seen play out differently. That’s why as we continue to move in the direction of natural oil and gas, he hopes the legislature can get out of the red in West Virginia and save money from that severance tax.
He’s worked as a prosecuting attorney and municipal judge, before being elected to the Senate, but what’s next for this man that’s been so dedicated to his state and his people, “I’ve spent the last 19-years, I tell folks, taking care of the world’s kids and the state’s kids and I’ve got five of my own and my youngest three are 11, 8, and 2-year-old sons,” Kessler concluded.
Another program Senator Kessler has been instrumental in starting is the drug court program in West Virginia. He said he recognizes the importance in finding people the help and tools they need to ditch their addiction and become more productive citizens.