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Unger running for Senate

January 29, 1998|By DON AINES

Unger running for Senate

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Rhodes Scholar will be hitting the campaign trail in an effort to unseat Sen. Harry Dugan this fall.

John Unger of Martinsburg filed Tuesday to run in the May 12 Democratic primary for the 16th District seat. The 29-year-old economic development and trade consultant becomes the third candidate for the seat, along with Dugan, R-Berkeley, and former Berkeley County Commissioner Howard Strauss, another Republican.

"I want to give something back to the community for the opportunities it has given me in my life," said Unger, who is a member and first president of the West Virginia International Trade Development Council.

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Unger stressed the importance of economic development of the Eastern Panhandle in an interview Wednesday, including upgrading W.Va. 9 and creating Exit 14 for Martinsburg off Interstate 81. He also favors a W.Va. 9 bypass and a U.S. 522 bypass for Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

"We need to revitalize the main streets of our towns, support local small and medium-sized businesses and agribusiness," Unger said. Building the region's tourism industry is also on his list of priorities.

Unger favors phasing out the food sales tax, which he said was imposed several years ago to get the state out of debt.

He said that growing the tax base is the way to avoid increasing taxes.

The candidate also criticized the funding formula for school systems. He noted that counties are funded based on student population increases from the previous year and said funding decisions by the state should be made after the start of the school year.

"We need to give our youth activities after school that are more than athletics and sports," Unger said. He said more activities must be made available by schools and communities between 3 and 8 p.m., when most juvenile crime occurs.

While favoring economic development, Unger said preserving the Eastern Panhandle's environment is important to attracting both quality jobs and tourism. Already the wealthiest part of the state, Unger said, "The Eastern Panhandle is the economic development engine that will drive the rest of the state in the 21st century."

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