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W.Va. House Of Delegates Race Is Not Just A Popularity Contest

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Editor’s note: This story originally ran in the Wednesday, October 28, print edition of The West Virginia Daily News. The original article incorrectly stated that there were four candidates running to fill three positions. This version has been corrected to state that there are four candidates running for the West Virginia House of Delegates to fill two positions. The WV Daily News apologizes for this error.

Among the many elections that will conclude on Tuesday, November 3, is that of West Virginia’s state Delegates.

In the Greenbrier Valley, there are four candidates running to fill two positions. The four candidates are current Delegates Cindy Lavender-Bowe and Jeff Campbell, as well as challengers Todd Longanacre and Barry Bruce. Most residents are familiar with their names. And if any voter doesn’t know them personally, they more than likely know someone who does. That’s just the way things are in small towns.

But being familiar with the candidates names and having a clear understanding of their particular viewpoints are two very different things. An election is not intended to be a popularity contest, and none of the four candidates are running for a position on the Homecoming Court. A political campaign has one purpose, and one purpose only: to educate the voter. 

Delegate Cindy Lavender-Bowe and Major Todd Longanacre have agreed to help the WV Daily News in our attempt to do just that. 

This is the first of two articles designed with the goal of assisting voters in making the most informed decision possible when choosing how to cast their vote. The first article will provide an overview of the role a Delegate plays in the West Virginia Legislature, as well as some background information on both Del. Lavender-Bowe and Maj. Longanacre.

In the second article, the candidates will provide their answers to several questions specifically applicable to residents and families living within the Greenbrier Valley. Both candidates will be asked the same questions, and will provide their answers to the WV Daily News in written-form so as not to be misconstrued or misrepresented. The candidate’s answers will be published exactly as they are written. 

It is the intention of this publication to provide voters with a deeper understanding of who the candidates are as community leaders, and their respective visions for the betterment of the Greenbrier Valley. As voters, you have the unique opportunity to vote for one over the other, both or neither. The constitution grants the rights to agree or disagree with either candidate as we see fit. But it is the hope that by reading these articles, you will become more familiar with Lavender-Bowe and Longanacre, two candidates, two people who volunteer themselves in service to their communities. 

Cindy Lavender-Bowe

Lavender-Bowe is a lifelong resident of West Virginia. A product of the Kanawha County public school system, Lavender-Bowe went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia Tech, and a master’s degree from Marshall University. After college, Lavender-Bowe began her career as a teacher, while also coaching tennis and baseball. Before being elected to the W.Va. House of Delegates in 2018, Lavender-Bowe served the community in a variety of ways, including as a founding member of the Greenbrier Valley Flood Recovery and Relief Committee, as well as serving on the Greenbrier Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau Marketing Committee.  Lavender-Bowe is also very active in her church in Lewisburg.

Todd Longanacre

Longanacre is a 29-year veteran of the United States Army. After serving 11 years as an enlisted officer, Longanacre received his commission. During his Army career, Longanacre was deployed overseas several times, including tours in Iraq. Longanacre retired from the Army in 2015 with the rank of Major. Longanacre grew up in Ronceverte, and is a graduate of the Seneca Trail Christian Academy. After high school, Longanacre went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology, and a master’s degree in strategic leadership. In 2009, Longanacre’s book, “One Soldier’s Somber Fight: Finding Inspiration in the Darkest of Places,” was published by Tate Publishing. Currently, Longanacre is an educator working in the Monroe County School System. 

In West Virginia, there is what is referred to as a “citizen’s legislature.”

The lawmakers (Delegates) are elected by the community to act as their constituents voice in government. Delegates serve as part-time legislators, and typically have careers in other professions. There are 100 Delegates in the state of West Virginia, each responsible to speak for the consensus within a specific district. Districts are established according to population. Delegates are elected for a two-year term. 

One of the primary functions of a delegate is the proposal of bills. 

The legislature defines bills as, “ideas or ways to address or correct problems in the state.”

Once a legislator (delegate) chooses to sponsor a bill, it is formally drafted and presented for introduction on the floor of the House of Delegates. The bill is then voted on by the legislature. If said bill is passed by a majority vote, it is then adopted into West Virginia Code, effectively becoming law. 

West Virginia’s elected delegates are chosen lawmakers. They cannot provide immediate relief if you have been wrongfully terminated by your employer. But they can help to strengthen the regulations protecting the rights of workers. They cannot directly have the case against you dropped if you’ve been charged with marijuana possession. However, they can work to lessen the restrictions on cannabis use. Delegates are leaders within their community who have sworn a solemn oath to fight inequity in every form, and protect the rights of their constituents as guaranteed by the constitution. It is often a thankless job, and no one doing it can be accused of caring only about their paycheck. The average delegate in W.Va. is paid approximately $20,000 per year. It is a job that requires nothing less than one’s full-throated commitment to the service of their community. 

That’s the job, and Lavender-Bowe and Longanacre are two of the candidates volunteering to do it. In the coming days, the second article will present voters with their detailed answers to questions pertinent to the community.

The last day to cast your vote in West Virginia is Tuesday, November 3.

The West Virginia Daily News is not affiliated with any political party, and does not provide endorsements of any particular candidate. The WVDN takes every reasonable measure to remain unbiased in its reporting, and pride on being driven solely by factual information. However, the WVDN appreciates Del. Lavender Bowe and Maj. Longanacre working with the newspaper to provide this information to voters. While the WV Daily News does not offer any endorsement to either candidate, the newspaper applauds the dedication both candidates have demonstrated to the Greenbrier Valley, and join with them in celebration of our democracy.

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