Two candidates are on the ballot in 2012 seeking to represent the 1st District in the West Virginia Senate.
Incumbent state Sen. Jack Yost, D-Brooke, faces a challenge from former delegate Patrick McGeehan, R-Hancock.
Following this year's redistricting, the new 1st Senatorial District will include Hancock, Brooke, and Ohio counties as well as a portion of the rural regions of Marshall County.
- Yost, 67, of Wellsburg was first elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2000. He served as a delegate through 2008, when he was elected to the Senate.
In the Senate, he serves as chairman of the Labor Committee and vice chairman of the Military Committee. He also is a member of the Energy, Industry and Mining Committee, the Government Organization Committee, and the Finance Committee.
Yost is retired from Weirton Steel. He and wife Kris have three children and three grandchildren.
"The way I would describe West Virginia's financial standing is stable but moving forward," Yost said. "... I believe West Virginia is well positioned for further growth."
He noted legislation passed last year related to the natural gas boom is a "good start."
"The environmental impact of the increased production is an ongoing concern, though the current regulations seem to be meeting the challenge," he commented. "I do believe that we will need to address more of the surface owners' concerns as we move ahead.
"The most important aspect of the legislation is the certainty that it has given the industry. The industry has a sense of the 'rules of the road.'"
Yost said in the 1st Senate District, community renewal and revitalization are essential to attracting business.
"As I speak with constituents throughout the panhandle, the No. 1 comment I hear is, 'I want my children and grandchildren to be able to work and live here in West Virginia,'" he commented. "As a parent and grandparent, I share this sentiment. I, too, want my children and grandchildren to stay here. But I don't just want them to stay - I want them to succeed here. ... I not only want to create an environment in which businesses relocate to West Virginia, but I also want to create a community of which we can be proud.
"One of the ways we can do this is through brownfield reclamation. I have been a proponent and continue to advocate for this form of renewal."
- McGeehan, 33, of Chester served in the House from 2006-08. He is currently the chairman of the Hancock County Republican Party and an employee of Frontier Communications.
McGeehan is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and has served tours in Afghanistan and the Middle East. He has one daughter.
"Our state has some very positive things going for it now," McGeehan said. "But we also have some very detrimental policies in place holding us back. It's not uncommon to see West Virginia ranked 50th or near 50th year to year in business activity. Our children are leaving, and our population is in decline. Yet our state government has doubled its own size in less than 10 years.
"On top of this, almost 40 percent of our state budget derives its funding from federal subsidies. When most politicians talk about the soundness of our state government's finances, they typically are not accounting for the trillion dollar deficits that Washington is running - much of which is going to prop up different state budgets, including our own. Now, Washington is running on fumes, and it has resorted to the "printing-press" to finance continued deficit spending. We must account for the future and the increased likelihood that these subsidies from the Fed will come to an end."
McGeehan believes increased business activity in the natural gas industry can be a very good thing for residents in the Northern Panhandle.
"We should maintain caution, however, as many different regulations are being pushed in Charleston by lobbyists who do not represent the best interests of our residents," he said. "One such regulation being promoted is called 'forced pooling.'
"Forced pooling effectively removes the right of contract from private property holders, providing special privileges for large, established gas drillers. The law would allow tracts of land to be developed, without the consent of individuals holding the rights to such property. ... It also leads to a general lowering of lease prices for land owners in our area, as you can be 'forced' into a price, so long as a majority of land owners around you agree. Protecting private property and voluntary contract is the best means of moving forward."
McGeehan believes the Northern Panhandle can position itself well for the next generation, but must do so responsibly.
"We need to realize that our budget is unsustainable, and our current trajectory is placing us on unstable ground for the future," he said.