For years I have been trying to instill a love of country and sense of service in students, stressing two bedrock principles our founding fathers believed were crucial for a successful republic – civic virtue (a willingness to put aside our own individual interests for the common good) and civic engagement (being actively involved in our democracy). After teaching about those cherished ideals, I have decided it is time to practice what I preach. That is why I am running to be your representative for the 9th District in the West Virginia State Senate.
Being involved in the legislature is something I have been interested in, but put off, for many years. The chance to represent and serve the people of my home county (Wyoming) and the county I have called home since I began teaching (Raleigh) has long been a dream of mine. The fact that a portion of my mom and daddy’s home county of McDowell is included in that district is icing on the cake.
It is a daunting and exhilarating undertaking to put yourself on the public stage and ask people to trust you with their faith, confidence, and vote. For nearly 30 years I have been fortunate enough to have countless parents and families trust me with their most valuable possession – their children. I have always felt teaching to be more than a career; it has been my calling. The trust I have had to coach and teach so many students of so many different backgrounds, talents, personalities, and dreams has given so much meaning and joy to my life. While being far from perfect, I have always strived to teach, motivate, encourage, and empower the kids in my classes and on my teams. I believe it is both an honor and a duty to try to set a positive example and help empower kids to have the skills and character to lead successful lives and to be of service to others.
I am so fortunate to have had two wonderful parents who brought me up to love God and country and to understand service to others and the golden rule. The Boy Scouts taught me to serve God and country, then others, and finally self. Attending a tiny little school called Herndon High taught me about community, and striving to overcome limitations others artificially place on you. I was lucky enough to teach and coach at Sophia Jr. High (and Indy Middle) which had that same sense of community and school spirit. Teaching and coaching at Park Jr. High introduced me to people of various backgrounds and helped teach me about the strength of having pride in one’s self and striving for excellence. Teaching and coaching at Woodrow Wilson High School has given me the pleasure of knowing people from every different background, and a chance to provide so many opportunities for students and to witness excellence in academics, athletics, and the arts. Teaching on the high school level at WWHS has allowed me to see so many of tomorrow’s best leaders at the cusp of their ascent. Going to church in Mullens since I was 5 years old has given me a firm foundation on which to try to live my life – a certainty in the value of prayer, a sense of forgiveness, acceptance, and faith, a value system based on the life of Jesus Christ and God’s Word, and the witness of so many faithful believers who have helped guide me on my spiritual journey and discipleship.
All of these experiences have helped shape me into the person I am. I believe all of these people and places also have two things in common that I have been taught my entire life. These characteristics are encouragement and service. These are two qualities I attempt to live out in my life (although imperfectly many times.)
Our state and its people are in dire need of encouragement today. We need leaders who believe in West Virginia and believe in us. We need leaders who know that those fortunate enough to serve in public office are just that – the public’s servants. We need leaders who believe in civic virtue – who are willing to put the public good ahead of self-interest or party. Our state, communities, schools, and churches need EACH of us to be willing to become involved. Our country needs us to remember what our founding fathers believed – that the most important office in government is the office of citizen. If we want Raleigh, Wyoming Counties, and McDowell Counties and our great state to be what it can, and what it’s people deserve, then the citizens – WE THE PEOPLE – need to stand up and stand strong. We need government bigger than egos and bigger than parties or interest groups. We need leaders who seek COMMON GROUND and practice COMMON SENSE.
In the coming months, I hope I will get to know many new people from our counties and that you will get to know me. I hope I can earn your trust and respect. If I am given the privilege to serve you and be your voice in Charleston, I pledge to represent the people of Wyoming, and Raleigh Counties (and the “The Great State of McDowell,” as my mom and daddy called it) to the best of my ability. I promise to serve with integrity, to listen to, and stand up for, the people.
Our journey begins. I can’t wait to see where it leads us. God bless you all!