With less than one month until the Nov. 3 general election, the four candidates in the running for District 24 of the West Virginia House of Delegates are making their pitch to voters why they should represent the district.
District 24, which covers most of Logan County and parts of Boone and Wyoming counties, is currently represented by incumbent Democrats Tim Tomblin and Ralph Rodighiero, both of Logan. Tomblin, first elected in 2018, is running for re-election, and Rodighero’s seat is up for grabs as he is running to represent District 7 in the West Virginia State Senate.
Along with Tomblin, one other Democratic candidate, Susan Shelton Perry of Logan, and two Republican candidates, Jordan Bridges of Logan and Margitta Mazzochi of Chapmanville, are vying for the two open seats.
Tim Tomblin (D)
Tim Tomblin is the son of Jackie S. Tomblin and the late Tom “Rose” Tomblin, a prominent and active figure in Logan County. Tomblin holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and management and is self-employed in the restaurant and real estate business, notably with local franchise Dairy Delight, which operates two locations — one at Mount Gay and one in Chapmanville.
Tomblin also serves as president of Christmas in the Park, the seasonal lights display at Chief Logan State Park, and as a board member of the Hatfield-McCoy Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In his primary election interview with The Logan Banner, Tomblin championed his support of pro-life and pro-Second Amendment issues while fighting outside interests and their attacks on teachers, personnel and retirees. Tomblin also supports eliminating the state income tax on social security, a tax credit for volunteer firefighters, legislation to aid in the state’s drug epidemic and having a study done for economic development in the southern coalfields.
If re-elected, Tombin’s top three legislative goals are infrastructure, fair tax structure and affordable housing to attract new business investments. He also places a heavy emphasis on education, saying the state needs to continue to strive for competitive teacher and state employee pay.
“We need to continue to support our educational system,” Tomblin said. “Our teachers need to be able to teach our children and have more involvement from our parents.”
On infrastructure, Tomblin specifically emphasizes the need for better roads, clean water, sewage and internet access.
“We need to improve our roads and other infrastructure, such as clean water and sewer throughout West Virginia,” Tomblin said. “Our state needs to partner with private companies expand and update our internet services to all of West Virginia.”
Tomblin has received endorsements from the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, United Mine Workers of America, WV Pro-Life, the West Virginia Sheriff Association and the West Virginia AFL-CIO.
Susan Shelton Perry (D)
A retired attorney, Susan Shelton Perry is a lifelong resident of Logan who lives with her husband, Roger, who is also an attorney and former circuit judge. She is a graduate of Marshall University and the West Virginia University College of Law.
Her legal work history includes Perry and Perry Attorneys at Law, Appalachian Research and Defense, family law master, assistant general counsel for the West Virginia Bureau for Child Support Enforcement, commissioner for the West Virginia BCSE, deputy secretary for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and part-time family court judge.
When asked why she decided to run for House District 24, Perry said the area deserves a representative that can work on issues full-time and be available to constituents when they need help. She emphasized her extensive resume as an added qualifying factor.
“Because I am now retired after over 25 years in state government, I can put that knowledge and experience to work for the people in our district,” Perry said.
Perry says one of the biggest issues facing the district is access to reliable and affordable internet service and, if elected, she says she would explore a possible option of classifying broadband as a public utility like water and electricity.
“Affordable and easily accessible broadband service is essential if our area is to thrive,” Perry said. “It’s necessary for students and teachers, but it can also be helpful to small businesses. Why can’t we sell our goods across the country or even around the world?”
If elected, Perry says she would propose hiring social workers to work for the school system to help alleviate some of the load on the WVDHHR. She also proposes reinstating the state’s prevailing wage requirement, which was repealed by the Republican-led Legislature in May 2016.
Perry says revitalizing southern West Virginia first requires making it a place that people want to visit.
“We have to beef up our broadband, fix our roads and clean up litter and dilapidated buildings,” Perry said. “Then we need to survey folks who visit here (like trail riders, etc.) to see what they enjoyed, what they felt was missing, and what types of activities would cause them to stay longer.”
Win, lose or draw, Perry urges constituents in the area to make sure they do just one thing this November — vote.
“To everyone — please vote,” Perry said. “Our brave soldiers fought, bled and died to keep us free. Women were beaten and force-fed while trying to get the right to vote. Honor these sacrifices this year and be a voter.”
Margitta Mazzochi (R)
German immigrant Margitta Mazzocchi has lived in Logan County for more than two decades since moving to the area with her husband, Eugene, a veteran of the United States Air Force. The two have owned and operated businesses in the Chapmanville area since 1999. As of this year, she is office manager and billing officer for Life Solutions Counseling Services, LLC.
Mazzocchi is also a member of the National Rifle Association, the West Virginia Citizen’s Defense League, Kiwanis Club of Logan, a volunteer with Celebrate Recovery, the Word of Life Church of Logan and a teacher for the Recovery Group of Southern West Virginia.
When asked why she decided to take a run for the State House, Mazzocchi said the district needs a leader who represents the people instead of their own interests.
“Our area has been hit hard by economic devastation and the scourge of illegal drugs which have ravaged our communities,” Mazzocchi said. “Young people are either leaving or they have no opportunities if they stay. We cannot let this go on. We can’t continue to elect the same people to represent us in Charleston. We can’t keep supporting those that want to keep our people in poverty and dependent on the government. It’s time we stand up for ourselves and elect leaders who will represent the people rather than just taking care of their own interests.”
If elected, Mazzocchi said she will work to ensure the district has the resources and infrastructure needed to succeed in work, education and recreation. These include affordable and reliable broadband internet access, reforming the state tax code and removing what she calls unnecessary regulations.
“I will work hard to leverage state and federal resources so that every person in our counties have access to affordable, reliable broadband internet,” Mazzocchi said. “I will work to reform the state tax code to attract investments so that every person who wants a job can get a job. I will fight for our children and remove unnecessary regulations bounding our teachers so they are free to teach in ways that best suit the unique circumstances and needs of our children. If elected, I will be a tireless advocate to return the power to the people and remove ineffective government bureaucracy and interference.”
Mazzocchi added that the district needs represented by someone who shares the values of the majority of its constituents.
“The people of District 24 need someone who will stand up for their rights in Charleston,” Mazzocchi said. “We need to be represented by someone that shares all our values. As a true conservative, I am a Christian, I am pro-life, pro-gun and pro-coal. If elected, I will stand up to those in the legislature who are trying to destroy our traditional values and impose their immoral socialist agenda on southern West Virginia.”
Jordan Bridges (R)
Jordan Bridges, 32, is a fourth-generation coal miner who started at age 19, working in both union and non-union mines. Bridges attended Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College for about a year, but said he was able to make more money as a coal miner.
Bridges said he decided to run for House District 24 because of his children. He says Americans’ rights are being taken away, and he wants to make sure the district’s children have all the tools and opportunities available to prosper in southern West Virginia.
Bridges says the biggest issues facing the district are infrastructure and jobs, and just like the other candidates, he says access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet is a priority.
“We have to diversify our economy,” Bridges said. “We have to have more job opportunities. We need to have high-speed internet available to all who want it. We need better roads and access to clean water.”
If elected, Bridges says he will be a delegate that will act to have less government control over businesses. He said he will lower taxes to bring in new industries to southern West Virginia, as well as support pro-life and pro-Second Amendment policies.
“Let’s lower the taxes on businesses that are willing to come to southern West Virginia,” Bridges said. “Let’s create a larger tax base at a lower tax rate that will create long lasting growth in our area.”
In conclusion, Bridges ultimately urges voters to vote for the candidate they most align with.
“I work hard every day to provide for my family, and I will work hard for the people of southern West Virginia,” Bridges said. “The northern part of this state has prospered off the backs of coal country, and it’s past time for us to succeed. Please vote for who you most align with. If you’re pro-life, vote pro-life candidates. If you’re for the Second Amendment, vote for the Second Amendment. If you’re pro-jobs, vote jobs. If you’re for the working class, vote for the working-class citizen who’s willing to work for you.”
The general election is set for Tuesday, Nov. 3, and polling places will be open despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Early voting is offered Oct. 21-31.