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Slater challenges Faircloth for 3rd time in W.Va.'s 53rd

May 04, 2000|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Tom Slater has faced state Delegate Larry Faircloth in the Republican primary twice and has lost twice.

"I swore I'd never do it again," Slater said.

But Slater, retired after 28 years with the CIA, is back.

And Faircloth, who is in his 10th term as the representative for the 53rd District, is again seeking re-election.

Faircloth, who has his own real estate company, said if the right candidate came along, he would stop running, but it hasn't happened yet. "Look at who has the experience," he said.

The winner of the May 9 primary will face Democrat Don Kawalek.

Slater said he has ideas for change, some popular, some not. For example, if it were up to him, all elected officials, from the President down, would have to send their children to public schools. "I guarantee you would see an improvement in the public schools," he said.

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He recalled seeing Jimmy Carter's daughter Amy play at recess at her public school in Washington, D.C., under the watchful eyes of Secret Service agents.

Slater said what convinced him to again run for office was Faircloth's involvement in the aftermath of a 1997 drunken driving charge against the son of Faircloth's friends. James D. Minghini Jr., the driver, later sued the police for excessive force and the case was settled out of court.

Slater said Faircloth should not criticize West Virginia State Police because their job is tough and their pay is low. And he characterized Faircloth's proposal for a citizen review board as "a joke."

"They don't work," he said of the boards. "They give you a nice fuzzy feeling."

Faircloth said Berkeley County sheriff's deputies and Martinsburg City Police are already subject to review boards, and state police should have the same.

Faircloth said the campaign should instead focus on more important issues, such as education, jobs, roads and quality of life.

According to Slater, when it comes to school funding, "it doesn't matter who represents this area," because growing districts will always get money.

Faircloth said that is not true. As a delegate, he said, he helped secure School Building Authority funding for Musselman High School, for instance.

He said he has had similar success in securing money for Berkeley County road projects and in creating jobs by helping reform workers' compensation.

Slater has chosen to look at Faircloth's stance in other areas. He said a Web site tracking conservative issues has given Faircloth low marks.

For example, Faircloth voted to allow Jefferson County residents to decide, by referendum, whether to allow slot machines at Charles Town Races. Slater said it shows Faircloth is sympathetic toward gambling, which Slater opposes.

Faircloth said he did not take a stance, but simply allowed citizens to choose on their own.

Slater said West Virginia residents face one of the highest tax burdens, and the legislature should look at ways to lighten the load.

Faircloth said he has already succeeded, by helping pass a $20 million statewide break on personal property taxes.

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