Two seek state Senate seat
Voters in West Virginia’s 1st Senatorial District, which includes Hancock, Brooke and Ohio counties and part of Marshall County, will be asked to choose from one of two candidates: Republican challenger Ryan Weld of Wellsburg or Democratic incumbent Jack Yost of Wellsburg.
Weld represents the state’s 2nd Delegate District in the state House of Delegates.
A graduate of Fairmont State University and the Duquesne University School of Law, he is an assistant Brooke County prosecutor and captain in the Air Force Reserves. He worked for several years in the U.S. intelligence community, serving as executive officer to the director of Congressional affairs for the Defense Intelligence Agency and staff intelligence officer for a joint Army/Air Force team in Afghanistan.
Weld said as a state delegate, he co-sponsored bills addressed at the drug problem. He said one imposing stricter penalties for out-of-state drug dealers passed in the House but stalled in the Senate. He said if elected, he would re-introduce it and other bills.
Weld said the drug problem deters new businesses from coming to the state and diminishes its available work force.
He said the state will lose its ability to grow economically “if we don’t act quickly and boldly to combat the problem now.”
A 1998 graduate of Brooke High School, Weld said he has seen many of his classmates leave the state.
“There isn’t a single piece of legislation that will automatically bring those people back, but we can do things that eventually add up to a West Virginia that is different from the one they had to leave for better opportunities.”
Weld said the involvement of younger adults in the state’s leadership “could be the beginning of bringing our ‘lost generation’ back home to the Mountain State.”
Weld said he learned from his military experience to be decisive and prepared to support his decisions with facts.
He added he also learned “to keep moving forward when things aren’t happening the way you wanted them to. Often times I’ve been handling a problem for a constituent and been told by a bureaucrat in Charleston that there is nothing they can do to help them. I’ll never take that as an answer, and will keep working the issue until I get results.”
A retired Weirton Steel employee with 39 years of service, Yost has served in the state Senate since 2008 and served in the state House of Delegates from 2002-06. He has served on Wellsburg Council, the city’s water-sewer board and the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission and as president of the New Ohio River Bridge Task Force.
He is on the boards of directors for HealthWays Inc., the Brooke County Committee on Aging, A Child’s Place Court-Appointed Special Advocates and Crittenton Services Inc.
He served in the Army Reserves for six years and was named company soldier of the year in 1966 and is past vice commander of the Wellsburg American Legion.
Yost said if re-elected he “would fight to ensure higher education receives more funding so it can spin off jobs in the Northern Panhandle.” He said the state’s universities can be used for research supporting the development of high-tech industries in the state, as has been done successfully in other states.
Yost said he’d work for repairs and improvements to highways and other infrastructure.
“The American Council of Engineers gave our state a ‘D’ for infrastructure investments. We need to have a real plan to repair crumbling highways and work to finish long overdue projects like Route 2. There are literally a billion dollars’ worth of shovel ready projects waiting to be started. By investing in infrastructure, we create good jobs with wages that will be invested back into the local economy.”
Yost said he would “restore fiscal sanity to the state. In the late 1980s this state stood on the brink of financial collapse. Thanks to strong governors and wise stewardship by the Legislature, we paid off our debts, cut taxes and saved millions to improve our bond rating.”
He said the Republican-led Legislature has undone those efforts and he will work with others to restore the state’s bond rating while protecting its Rainy Day Fund, “which is a significant determining factor in our credit rating” and that had been eyed by legislators to address the state’s deficit.