Voters in West Virginia's 1st Congressional District will elect their representative to the U.S. House on Nov. 6.
Incumbent Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., is being challenged by Democrat Sue Thorn. Both of the candidates live in Wheeling.
- Thorn, 58, graduated from Wheeling Jesuit University with a degree in organizational leadership development. She most recently was an employee of the West Virginia Education Association.
In the past, she has been associated with the former Ohio Valley Industrial Business Development Corp., and she worked to form the Hopeful City coalition of churches in Wheeling.
During the 2008 election, Thorn was a regional field director for Organizing for America, an arm of the Democratic National Committee and Barack Obama's presidential campaign. She has two daughters and a granddaughter.
"The financial divide between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of America is the greatest it's been since just before the Great Depression," she said. "Over the last 30 years, the income of the wealthiest 1 percent has increased nearly 250 percent, productivity has increased 80 percent, but worker wages have grown less than 10 percent.
"We must rebuild the middle class, because when the middle class is strong everyone does well. To rebuild the middle class, Congress needs to pass a jobs bill that is focused on rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, water and sewer lines and other infrastructure projects. This will create construction jobs and, by requiring American-made products as much as possible, like steel, we would also create manufacturing jobs. Infrastructure projects will also assist cities, counties and states that are burdened with deteriorating infrastructure. We have done extensive nation-building overseas and now we must undertake nation-building here in America."
Thorn noted she didn't decide to run for Congress on her own.
"I was drafted by people throughout the 1st Congressional District who wanted someone who would fight for working people," she said. "In the last year, I've spoken with thousands of people throughout our district about the issues that are impacting their lives. I have been saddened, stunned and often surprised by the stories people have told me. We've stood on their porch, looked each other in the eye, sometimes hugged, shook hands and often laughed. Most people have thanked me for coming to their door to talk with them and some have even thanked me for running.
"This is another major difference between most people running for Congress and me. My funding is not coming from major corporations or wealthy individuals wanting to 'buy' my support in Congress. The vast majority of my funding comes from people throughout our district, and their interests will be my focus in Congress. Voters often ask me whether they should believe I'll fight for them and I always tell them 'follow the money.'"
She does think America has better days coming.
"I believe America's future looks promising, because I believe in the power of Americans to face difficult problems, work together, develop solutions and resolve what once seemed overwhelming," she said. "Our nation's mettle isn't tested during good or prosperous times, but instead in times of crisis. I believe that's when each generation creates their notion of the 'American Dream' and each time that dream is re-created, Americans rise to meet the challenges we face.
"I have faith in our country and its citizens to conquer any obstacle or foe when we realize our destinies are intertwined and we must care for one another and work together for the betterment of all. Americans are not people who back down from problems because they might seem insurmountable or because there are too many to resolve. We rise, as patriots, to get the job done no matter how impossible it may seem. That is what makes America the greatest country in the world."
- McKinley, 65, is completing his first term in the U.S. House. He previously served in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1981-94.
He is owner of McKinley and Associates, an architectural and structural engineering firm in Wheeling.
McKinley and his wife, Mary have four children and six grandchildren.
"With 23 million Americans looking for work, it is clear that growing our economy needs to be our top priority," McKinley said. "We need to build an environment that allows businesses to create jobs. Uncertainty about the future is holding businesses back from growing.
"Congress can help remove that uncertainty by reforming the tax code, reigning in burdensome regulations, and repealing Obamacare, which has raised costs for small businesses. Taking advantage of our domestic energy resources, like coal, oil, and gas, will create jobs and keep energy costs low for businesses and homes. Getting our economy back on track will also help address other vital issues like strengthening Medicare and Social Security and reducing the deficit. The anemic job growth of the last four years is unacceptable. We can do better."
To be effective in Congress it's important to work in a bipartisan fashion, McKinley said.
"Every issue we've worked on, from energy to health care to manufacturing, has had bipartisan support," he said. "There is no such thing as a Republican idea or a Democrat idea - only ideas that are good for our country and our state. Representing a state like West Virginia, which is dependent on natural resources like coal, it's also important to make sure members from other parts of the country understand the local impact of decisions made in Washington.
"We've seen Washington drive off much of the manufacturing from our area, and we can't let the same happen to our coal industry. We need a national energy policy, not an Obama energy policy. Working to find common cause on issues like this is the only way to succeed and protect West Virginia jobs."
He acknowledges America is facing challenges, and that the country's economy is struggling.
"Washington is spending more than it can afford and borrowing against our children's future, and we need to make health care more affordable and accessible," McKinley said. "While these issues may be significant, they can be solved. Our Judeo-Christian values and Constitutional foundation provide an underpinning that has guided us through major tests before, whether it was the Civil War, the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks, or rioting in the streets during the Vietnam War. America survived and grew stronger from these tests.
"There's no reason to believe we have lost our inner strength and can't meet today's challenges. We have good leaders - Republicans and Democrats alike - who have the best for our nation at heart. We have the world's best scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs. We have the best health care in the world. If we rely on facts, not ideology, and common sense, not partisanship, we can restore our economy and maintain our position as the 'shining city on the hill.'"