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Sneathen will challenge Trump in 51st District race

May 09, 2002|BY DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - State House Minority Leader Charles Trump will face political newcomer George L. Sneathen in Tuesday's Republican primary race for the 51st District House of Delegates seat.

No Democrat filed to run for the seat.

In the last several weeks, the Mountain Party has selected a candidate to run against the winner of the Republican primary in the Nov. 5 general election, Trump said.

Although the filing period is over, there are ways parties can fill ballots after the deadline has passed, Trump said.

Delegates serve two-year terms and earn $15,000.

The 51st District serves Morgan County, but through recent redistricting, now stretches to the western edge of Hampshire County, where Sneathen lives.

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n Trump, an attorney, is completing his fifth term as delegate. He said he is running for re-election because the state has strong potential for success.

West Virginia is blessed with natural beauty, vast natural resources and hard-working, decent people, Trump said.

"There is really no reason why the state should be 50th in per-capita income," said Trump, 41, of 171 S. Washington St. in Berkeley Springs.

To turn that around, Trump said he wants to lead efforts to reform the state's tax system that said he feels is antiquated "and in many respects punitive" to businesses.

Trump said he wants reform in the workers' compensation program.

He said he also wants to reform the civil justice system to control the number of frivolous lawsuits. Excessive frivolous lawsuits and high jury awards drive up insurance premiums, which affect anyone who spends money, Trump said.

In the last two years, Trump has introduced a bill that would set up a screening panel to weed out frivolous lawsuits.

n Sneathen said he is running because he thinks it's time for the 51st District delegate to get back in contact with the people.

When making decisions in the Legislature, too many elected officials take matters into their own hands rather than getting input from constituents, Sneathen said.

"We're supposed to be representatives of the people. How do you do that without contacting the people?" Sneathen said.

Sneathen said he can't remember an elected official ever contacting him to get his input on issues.

He said he would educate his constituents on the issues then set up a communications network where he would regularly keep in touch with about 500 constituents in the district to gauge their opinions on issues.

Economic growth has been sluggish in the district, and Sneathen said he wants to see state tax reform and new tax breaks to lure businesses to the area.

Sneathen, 43, lives in Delray, W.Va., which is southwest of Capon Bridge, W.Va. He trains correctional officers at the West Correctional Training Academy at Allegany College in Cumberland, Md.

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