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Newcomers vie for seat in 54th

October 24, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Both candidates running for the 54th District House of Delegates seat name economic development as one of their top priorities.

Democrat Dale Buck, 50, of Hedgesville, W.Va., and Republican Walter Duke, 55, of Martinsburg, are seeking the seat held by Del. Vicki Douglas. Douglas decided not to seek re-election.

The 54th District covers all of Martinsburg and areas west to Hedgesville.

Buck received an undergraduate and law degree from West Virginia University and has been a resident and lawyer here for 14 years.

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While at WVU, Buck worked in the Legislature for the Joint Committee on Government and Finance. He served 12 years on the Hedgesville Town Council.

Duke received a bachelor's degree from Shepherd College and a master's degree from WVU. A teacher at Hedgesville High School, Duke has lived in the Panhandle his entire life.

Buck said his main concern is increasing the economic development climate not only here but in other parts of the state. Buck previously lived in central West Virginia and understands the challenges other parts of the state face, he said.

"Economic development is the primary thing that has pulled me into this race," he said.

Duke mentioned economic development first when asked to speak about his platform issues.

He said that to bring good-paying jobs here, state resources need to be directed to this growth area. Tourism could be increased, and more local control could be diverted from Charleston to Berkeley County, Duke said.

To achieve that, Duke said a portion of the 6 percent sales tax could go to county officials and state money could have fewer "strings attached."

Both candidates want to phase out the 6 percent sales tax on food, but increase the per-pack tax on cigarettes.

Buck said other issues, like the medical malpractice problem, are connected to development. Without adequate medical facilities and doctors, companies will not relocate here. Also, the state's workers compensation program needs reform, he said.

Both candidates said they favor regional pay differentials for teachers and others who receive significantly less than those in neighboring states.

Voters will head to the polls Nov. 5.

Delegates receive $15,000 a year.

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