Wilbourne announces run for W.Va. Senate

January 05, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Saying more needs to be done to give growing counties in the Eastern Panhandle the flexibility to deal with the challenges spurred by population increases, longtime local minister R. Earl Wilbourne has announced his candidacy for one of two West Virginia 16th District Senate seats.

The Republican candidate is running for the seat currently held by Sen. Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson.

Snyder represents Jefferson and Berkeley counties in the state Senate along with Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley.

A primary election will be held May 11, with the general election scheduled for November.

Wilbourne has been senior pastor at the Childs Road Church of God, at the intersection of W.Va. 51 and Childs Road, for about 24 years.

The Legislature has worked to give counties broader authority such as the ability to pass impact fees, but Wilbourne said more needs to be accomplished.


He said local counties need to be given the authority to offer "regional pay" to local state workers such as teachers to help keep them in their jobs. Regional pay involves paying local state workers a higher rate than their colleagues in other parts of the state. The higher pay is intended to help prevent local state workers from crossing into neighboring states for higher salaries.

Wilbourne said he once operated a construction business in the area, which enabled him to see the challenges facing small businesses.

He said the state's business licensing process is cumbersome and the state Workers' Compensation Division needs to be "privatized, repaired or replaced."

Workers' compensation helps workers pay for medical expenses when they are injured on the job. Local employees have complained of slow claims payments, the inability to get assistance from workers in the agency in answering questions and bad regulations in the agency.

"We need to have the tools, finances and flexibility for the unique circumstances facing the people of Berkeley and Jefferson counties," Wilbourne said.

Wilbourne, 49, also said more must be done to protect the rights of unborn children, promote adoption and reduce domestic violence.

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