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Experienced foes square off in W.Va. Senate race

October 15, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - The race for an open seat in the local 16th State Senate district pits two longtime Jefferson County residents who have been active in politics and other issues over the years.

Republican John Yoder and Democrat Greg Lance have cited their public service experience as reasons for voters to select them on Nov. 2 to the Senate seat.

The 16th Senate District represents all but the southwestern part of Berkeley County and all of Jefferson County. Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, also represents the 16th District, but his term is not up this year.


The job, which carries a four-year term, pays $15,000 a year.

Greg Lance

Lance's political experience extends to the 1970s and includes work on a city, county and state level.

When he was 23, Lance was elected mayor of Ranson, W.Va., and led the city from 1978 to 1986.

Lance, a pharmaceutical representative for Wyeth Labs, was a Jefferson County Commissioner from 1986 to 1998 and was president of the West Virginia County Commissioners Association for two years.

Lance, 49, of 774 Breckenridge Way, Shenandoah Junction, also has been a member of the board of directors for the West Virginia Municipal League, an organization which represents the interest of cities across the state.

Because of his political experience, Lance believes he is the best candidate for the 16th Senate position. Further, Lance said he believes he can be effective as a senator because he knows people in leadership positions in the Legislature.

Lance said the 16th Senate race is an important one because officials in Charleston, W.Va., realize that the political power in the state is shifting to the Northern Panhandle and Eastern Panhandle because of population growth in the areas.

"I think I'm in a position to do the Eastern Panhandle a lot of good," Lance said.

Lance, who defeated two-term incumbent Herb Snyder in the primary, said he has emphasized in his campaign the need for the state to become more competitive with other states in job creation.

With the biggest portion of the construction of the new four-lane W.Va. 9 still ahead, now is an excellent time to prepare the Eastern Panhandle for economic growth, Lance said.

While the freeway is being built, Lance said utilities needed by businesses such as high-speed Internet should be installed along the road.

Lance also believes it is important to invest in existing companies in the state. He proposes taking the $50 million from the $150 million the state spends on economic development every year and setting it aside for existing businesses to help them to expand.

John Yoder

Yoder, a Harpers Ferry, W.Va., attorney, represented the same Senate district from 1992 to 1996. Yoder said when he left the Senate, tax increases were nonexistent and the state was operating within its budget.

Now that situation has reversed, and Yoder said he wants to return to Charleston to "clean up cronyism and corruption."

Other problems abound too, said Yoder, 53, of 433 Prospect Ave., Harpers Ferry.

Most people are paying very high car and house insurance rates and other people cannot get home insurance, Yoder said.

Yoder said he has talked to some people who do not have insurance on historic homes in Jefferson County because insurance companies will not insure the homes.

Yoder said when he talks to state lawmakers about the problem, lawmakers tell him they are working on the issue.

The problem is, people who need to have their homes insured cannot wait for two or three years until legislators work out a solution.

"I think it's at a crisis level," Yoder said.

Yoder said he also is concerned about the Eastern Panhandle government agencies having enough funds to operate in the face of growing population.

The Eastern Panhandle generates a lot of revenue for state government, but it gets little funding in return, Yoder said. While the state reaps huge profits for allowing slot machines at Charles Town Races & Slots, "we get all the social problems" and traffic, Yoder said.

The state does not provide enough funding for new school construction locally and it is important to address these issues "so the rest of the state doesn't hold us back," Yoder said.

Besides his state Senate experience, Yoder was a state circuit judge in Kansas from 1976 to 1980, was an assistant to the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and was the director of the asset forfeiture office under the U.S. Department of Justice during the Reagan administration.

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