HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. — Editor's note: This is another in a series of Eastern Panhandle candidate previews that The Herald-Mail will be running over the next several months. The announcements also will be posted on our website, www.herald-mail.com, through the West Virginia primary on May 8. To submit announcements, email them and a color photo (preferably a jpeg) to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Any questions, call 301-791-7281.
W. Matthew Harris, a Harpers Ferry area businessman, political novice and newly minted Republican, has announced his candidacy for Jefferson County's newly redistricted 67th Delegate District.
Harris, 40, of Symphony Drive, a Democrat since he first voted at 18, said he changed his party affiliation because "I can't agree with either side, but my thinking leans more toward the Republicans. My new philosophy is get your government off my freedom."
Harris owns Construction Management Industries L.L.C., which he runs from his home.
He said he firmly believes that "the power of the vote from the people needs to be heard on the House floor. I believe that when I take my oath as a delegate it should be to the state of West Virginia, not just the Eastern Panhandle."
The filing deadline for all state and local offices runs through Jan. 28. The West Virginia Primary is May 8.
Harris said he's "not confident with the current incumbent. I believe West Virginians deserve better representation."
Democrat John Doyle of Shepherdstown, W.Va., who is not seeking re-election, has represented the district for 20 consecutive years. The 57th District will become the 67th after redistricting, which also changed its boundaries.
Harris said his goals, if elected, include elimination of personal property taxes, fighting the effort to tax online purchases and go after the $100 million that the three West Virginia casinos receive from the state to upgrade their facilities.
"I do not believe in increasing taxes as we are already taxed beyond belief during this hard time. Our people need a break to start rebuilding their lives," he said.
Harris said any shortfall from tax cuts will be made up from the estimated $1.6 trillion in annual tax revenues that will be realized from Marcellus Shale gas drilling in the north western part of the state.
He is a U.S. Army veteran.