Two seek GOP nod in 57th District race

May 03, 2010|By RICHARD F. BELISLE
  • Donny Jones

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - It will take two primary elections on May 11 and the Nov. 2 general election before 57th District voters know who will represent them in the West Virginia House of Delegates for the next two years.

Delegates earn $20,000 a year.

Two Democrats, longtime incumbent John Doyle and political newcomer Lori Rea, and two Republicans, Elliot Simon of Harpers Ferry and Shepherd University freshman Donny Jones, will face off in their respective party primaries.

Geographically, the 57th District, according to Del. Doyle, generally runs north of W.Va. 9 from the Virginia line on Blue Ridge Mountain to Jefferson County's border with Berkeley County.

When the 57th District was created following the 2000 census, it had a population of 17,200. Today, Doyle said, it has 21,500 residents.

The Republican candidates are profiled today. The Democratic candidates will be profiled later this week.

Elliot Simon

Elliot Simon, 55, of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., a retired executive, is one of two Republicans hoping to advance to the general election.


"I'm running for delegate because I am extremely concerned about the future of Jefferson County and the State of West Virginia. Unfortunately, West Virginia ranks near or at the bottom of nearly every important economic category. That needs to change."

A native of New York, Simon, in campaign statements, said Jefferson County needs to create a climate that encourages small businesses - the job-creation engine for the county, state and nation.

He favors lower taxes. Jefferson County, Simon said, has a tax burden that is 25 percent higher than the national average. He also believes that state government is too centralized, that more local control is needed "over decisions that affect our daily lives."

A Jefferson County resident for eight years, Simon is treasurer of the Blue Ridge Acres Civic Association and the Jefferson County Organization of Home Owners Associations.

He worked for 30 years in ground transportation and corporate travel industries, and has consulted for Fortune 500 companies.

His campaign Web site is

Donny Jones

Donny Jones, 19, is making a first run at politics. He sees election to the House of Delegates as a stepping stone to his ultimate goal: running for West Virginia governor in 2020.

Jones grew up in Kenna, W.Va., a small community in Jackson County, the youngest of two sons of a physician. He graduated from Ripley High School in 2009.

He served two terms as president of his local Young Republicans Club and worked on U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's campaign in 2000 when he was 8 years old. He also worked on Dan Green's unsuccessful bid for attorney general in 2008.

He said he wants to run for governor in 2020 so he can beat former Gov. Cecil Underwood's record of being the state's youngest governor when he was elected in 1956 at age 34. Underwood also became West Virginia's oldest governor 40 years later when he won a second term in 1996 at age 74.

"I'll be 29 in the 2020 primary and 30 in the general election that year. You have to be 30 to be elected governor," Jones said. If he wins in 20 years, he'll beat Underwood's record by four years.

Meanwhile, winning a seat in the House of Delegates this year should launch Jones on his way to his ultimate political quest in 10 years.

"I know how the legislature works," said Jones, a political science major at Shepherd University.

His major campaign issues are bringing a NASCAR track to West Virginia, something he said that can be done for as little as $3 million, and removing the sales tax from local farmers markets to help growers.

He said his campaign is just getting under way, although as of April 23, he had not yet ordered his campaign signs or literature. He said he's planning a door-to-door campaign.

Jones' Web site is

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