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53rd District candidates focus campaigns on Panhandle's growth

October 20, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

INWOOD, W.Va. - Both of the candidates seeking the 53rd District House of Delegates seat in the West Virginia Legislature listed among their priorities a need to control growth-related problems, including traffic congestion at the intersections of U.S. 11 and W.Va. 51 in Inwood.

Jerry Burton, a Democrat, and Vic Roberts, a Republican, are running. The general election is Nov. 2.

The 53rd District covers southern Berkeley County, including the communities of Inwood, Pikeside, Glengary and Gerrardstown.

The seat was held by long-term Republican Del. Larry Faircloth, who quit to run an unsuccessful campaign for governor.

Delegates serve two-year terms and are paid $15,000 a year.

Jerry Burton

Burton said growth-related issues continue to be of concern.

"The biggest issue is growth, trying to control and manage growth," said Burton, 55, of Inwood.

He plans to pursue a prior state plan to build a W.Va. 51 bypass to try to control heavy traffic at the intersections of W.Va. 11 and W.Va. 51.


"From 2:30 (p.m.) to 6 (p.m.) you don't even want to come to Inwood," he said.

He also supports locality pay for state employees, including State Police troopers, teachers and highway workers.

With growth comes an increase in crime, including the influx of more drugs in the area because of Interstate 81. Burton supports adding more plainclothes officers to the State Police ranks.

He also supports revising the school-aid funding formula. Counties receive state money based on the number of new students who enrolled in the prior year, which hinders growing counties, including Berkeley, he said.

Statewide, Burton favors tort reform to try to reduce the number of people who cannot obtain insurance or who face dramatically increasing premiums. Burton said when his daughter bought a townhouse, she was only able to obtain homeowners' insurance because her parents had been longtime State Farm Insurance policyholders.

Burton moved to Berkeley County in 1971 and retired in June as a math teacher from Musselman Middle School.

He served in the Army Reserves for 21 years and is a Desert Storm veteran, having served in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War.

Vic Roberts

Roberts said he is running to try to ensure state resources are directed to growth counties, including Berkeley, for issues like locality pay and growth-related problems.

"The growth is going to cause most of the problems," said Roberts, 66, of Inwood.

The forecast for growth and road usage is "phenomenal," he said.

Roberts agreed with his opponent that something needs to be done about the traffic at the U.S. 11 and W.Va. 51 intersections. He also wants something to be done about standing water that forms in the same area whenever heavy rain falls.

Water backs up onto the road and Roberts said he once saw a car become stuck in the water and float into a ditch.

Like his opponent, Roberts favors locality pay.

He said he favors taking a common-sense approach to the state's problems.

Roberts retired in 1996 as president of Blue Ridge Bank and formerly served as the executive director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce.

He also previously owned a tobacco and tea shop downtown.

A lifelong Berkeley County resident, Roberts previously worked in the administrations of Govs. Cecil Underwood and Arch Moore.

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