Candidates for 13th and 14th districts assail stalled road project
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Republican candidates for the state's 13th and 14th House of Delegate districts are frustrated by the stalled U.S. 35 expansion project, and they want to reform the state's education system.
Republican candidates Brian "Scotty" Scott and Scott Cadle, who are running in the 13th House District, and Jim Butler, who is running in the 14th District, met with members of the Daily Mail's editorial board on Thursday.
Democrats Brady Paxton and Helen Martin, both incumbents in the two-seat 13th District, and Jimmie Wood Jr., candidate for the single 14th District seat, were invited to the meeting but did attend.
The 13th District covers eastern Putnam County and Mason County as well as a section of western Jackson County. The newly created 14th District, drawn up in 2010, is made up of the rest of Putnam and Mason counties.
Butler, 46, of Gallipolis Ferry, Mason County, said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's proposal to put tollbooths on U.S. 35 was a "moneymaking scheme," that would have had the Parkways Authority using revenue from the tollbooths to build roads elsewhere in the state.
Butler said putting tolls on the road would have hurt economic development in the area.
He also said the state could have come up with the funds needed to compete the 14.6-mile stretch of road in Mason and Putnam counties without tolls.
"When they finally killed the road project and said we're not going to put a toll on it but we're not going to complete it, it was about two weeks later the Legislature voted to give $100 million to casinos to buy new slot machines," he said.
Cadle, 58, of Letart, said he would like to abolish the Parkways Authority and transfer its duties to the Division of Highways.
"The highways department can handle that. Get rid of a bunch of people," he said.
Cadle, an owner/operator truck driver, said toll roads are "double taxation" because drivers already pay taxes on fuel. He said anytime he's traveling east, he takes U.S. 60 instead of Interstate 64/77 to avoid the tollbooths.
"I never go down a toll road unless I have to," he said.
Scott, a substitute social studies teacher in Mason County schools, said he would like to remove regulations that "prevent teachers from teaching." He said students are required to take so many standardized "benchmark" tests that teachers barely have time to cover the required material.
"Before you get the last material taught, you're throwing something else at them," he said.
Scott, 30, of Hometown, said measuring student achievement is important but the current system is getting in the way of education. Teachers often give students answers to the benchmark tests to keep scores high, he said.
"I've seen it," he said. "There's so much we fail to teach."
Scott said at one high school where he worked, 60 percent of students could read at only a fourth-grade level. He said he would like to decentralize the education system and give more power to local school boards and parents.
He said the school system is focused more on mediocrity than on high achievement.
Butler, who has children in the third and sixth grades, agreed that the schools' expectations for children aren't high enough. But he does not want to lay all the blame on teachers because parents do not always support their children.
"How do you legislate parents doing the right thing?"