The candidates running for the West Virginia District 1 senate seat are worried about the heroin epidemic. District 1 encompasses nearly all of the Northern Panhandle. Democrat incumbent Jack Yost has been in the position for two terms now. Republican challenger Ryan Weld is the current West Virginia State delegate for district two.
Both Senator Yost and Delegate Weld are Brooke County natives and see the impact heroin is having on the all of the northern panhandle’s economy and vise versa.
“I believe jobs are a very important part of the problem that we have year,” said Yost “When folks are unemployed then they get involved in issues and scenarios that they normally wouldn’t do, so money plays an important in family life.”
“A lot of it goes back to the drug problem because when this area had a lot of jobs — when we had mills, we had mines– which aren’t going to make the comeback that we would like to see them make, the sad reality of what the federal government has done is going to prohibit that from happening, we didn’t have a massive heroin problem,” Weld said.
Yost worked at Weirton Steel for nearly 40 years. Weld is a prosecuting attorney in Brooke County. Weld says if he were elected, his top priority would be to get a tougher criminal conspiracy bill signed into law.
“That will give law enforcement the tools to be able to go across the river and get the guys, but also, greatly increases the penalties, something that’s going to make them think twice about doing business here,” Weld said.
“Law enforcement and the legislature must work together a little more closely that we are now to improve this scenario that’s going on,” Yost said.
The state budget is also an important issue that both candidates say needs to be addressed. Yost says a long-term solution with spending cuts and revenue increases without tapping into the state’s rainy day fund is needed. Weld says what will help is attracting more young, working professionals to the area and keeping those already here, here. He says with 49 percent of people supporting the 51 percent not working in the state, we cannot sustain a budget.
Both candidates had this to say when asked why they deserve your vote on November 8th:
“I’ve brought a lot of infrastructure products to the norther panhandle,” Yost said. “We have sewage in some of our rural communities that we were not entitled to. We have water in some of our communities that have helped out tremendously. We’ve had some road improvements in the northern panhandle. We’re looking at a new bridge in southern Brooke County that will be a tremendous asset to the folk in Brooke County for employment and entertainment and other avenues.”
“I think the important thing to know is that I’m going to bring something new to the table. As I’ve said, we have no prosecuting experience in the state senate and my experience lends itself to combating what is our state’s greatest issue right now, and that’s the drug problem. For me, another thing is that, it’s always been important to be– I’ve only been in the legislature two years– and it’s always been the utmost importance to me that my constituents know that if you have to get a hold of me, give me a call, shoot me an email, find me on Facebook,” Weld said.