PARKERSBURG - The economy, education and energy are topics Republican gubernatorial candidate Betty Ireland wants to work on to move the state forward.
The former secretary of state was in Parkersburg Tuesday in her campaign for governor.
Ireland has been traveling around the state talking to residents about energy, property rights and education.
People have been talking to her about the development of the Marcellus Shale deposit of natural gas under eastern states, including West Virginia, and how that will impact their property.
''I think the interesting thing about the shale is we are in the beginning of this process and we can get the regulations right,'' Ireland said. ''We don't want to overregulate so we don't push commerce away, because it could be a financial boon to West Virginia. We also have to make sure the landowners are taken care of and the environment is taken care of.''
Jobs and the economy continue to be a concern for many people.
Photo by Brett Dunlap
Republican gubernatorial candidate Betty Ireland visits Parkersburg on her campaign trail.
''We still have an almost 10 percent unemployment figure,'' Ireland said.
Ireland is in favor of creating an appellate court for the state between the county circuit courts and the state Supreme Court of Appeals.
''Right now, no one has an automatic right of appeal,'' Ireland said. ''If you lose in a lower court, the only venue you have is to go to the Supreme Court and they don't hear all of the cases.''
This has made businesses decide against coming to the state, Ireland said.
Another problem business leaders have discussed is getting an educated, motivated and drug free workforce, she said.
The state has high school graduates who can't read properly or do basic math, Ireland said. ''I think we need to demand more from our students,'' she said.
She said she wants to cut some of the over-administration of the state's school districts, develop a way to evaluate teacher performance to reward those who are doing a good job, explore the possibility of year-round school and wants more technology integrated into the schools.
Technology can provide avenues for the state's schools to be able to allow classes to hear a lecture from anywhere in the country or see an experiment being conducted over the Internet, she said.
''Technology has to work better for us,'' she said. ''Our students here need to compete in the global economy.''
The next governor will have a 14-month term.
''That is hard on everyone, but that is the price of democracy,'' Ireland said. ''It is not cheap or easy.''
Ireland said she is looking at it as a chance to be bold and make tough decisions, because re-election options are limited.
''It is a wonderful opportunity to start making a real difference in the state,'' she said.
Changes in the national health care reform act are expected to contribute to a $200 million deficit for the state next year as Medicaid costs increase tremendously, she said.
Ireland said her background as a teacher, the former secretary of state and her background in business and finance make her qualified to be governor.
Eight Republicans and six Democrats will be vying to fill the remainder of the unexpired term of former Gov. Joe Manchin. A special primary election will be held May 14 with the special general election set for Oct. 4.
In addition to Ireland, other Republicans vying for the position are state Sen. Clark Barnes, Putnam County Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia, former Berkeley County Delegate Larry Faircloth, Jackson County Delegate Mitch Carmichael and Monongalia County residents Cliff Ellis, Ralph William Clark and mine-drilling consultant Bill Maloney.
In addition to acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the Democratic candidates are acting state Senate President Jeffrey Kessler, House Speaker Rick Thompson, Kanawha County resident Arne Moltis, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and state Treasurer John Perdue, according to the state's elections web site.