Elections

Policy Specifics Absent in West Virginia Governor's Debate

October 5, 2016

Both major party candidates competing to become West Virginia’s next governor agree that the state’s teachers are underpaid, that roads need to be fixed, that higher education cuts are a problem and that the state’s internet service needs improved.

But as Republican Bill Cole and Democrat Jim Justice faced off in their first gubernatorial debate, both candidates were lacking in specifics when asked how they would fix those problems with a multi-million revenue shortfall expected again this year.

At times, during the hour-long debate Tuesday night at the Walker Theater in the Clay Center in Charleston, both candidates sidestepped or avoided the actual questions that West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s moderator Ashton Marra was asking them.

When questioned about what new revenue streams the gubernatorial candidates would support to raise money for roads in the state, the candidates provided statements related to the subject without ever giving a direct answer, prompting Marra to repeat the question.

Justice then blamed Cole for allegedly calling for counties to have more control over their roads. Cole simply said that he wouldn’t support new money for state roads until the Legislature cut undefined waste.

At another point, Justice — who criticized Cole for voting to raising the state’s tobacco tax early on — declined to name anything in the state government that he would cut.

The lack of policy specifics was one of the themes of the debate, along with the political finger pointing.

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