Jefferson County businessman Ruland running for W.Va. Senate seat

January 30, 2012

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Republican James Ruland, a local businessman and decorated Vietnam War veteran, is challenging state Sen. Herb Snyder, a three-term incumbent Democrat, for his 16th District seat in the West Virginia State Senate.

Ruland, of Shannondale, W.Va., announced his candidacy Saturday in front of courthouses in Berkeley and Jefferson counties.

He said in a news release announcing his candidacy that he is running because of the “direction the country is headed: fiscal recklessness, expanding and intrusive government, and an increasing tendency to disregard both the moral basis and constitutional framework upon which this great nation was built.”

Ruland and Snyder are former Jefferson County Commission members. Snyder served from 1991 to 1996, Ruland from 1996 to 2002.

Ruland said: “Regrettably, West Virginia exhibits all these same disturbing problems. Debts mount and more are proposed. Our state population has been declining for decades, yet the size of state government grows ever larger.”

He promises to “improve the business climate, cut wasteful bureaucracy and eliminate needless regulations that hold back job growth,” he said in the release.

Until last year when he sold it, Ruland owned RAI, a 35-employee professional services company that provided information technology support to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and other federal agencies.

He is the managing partner of RAI Properties, a commercial real estate company that manages the Jefferson Business Park.

Ruland is a U.S. Navy veteran with 22 years of service, including 11 years of sea duty. He said he enlisted as a seaman recruit and retired with the rank of commander. During the Vietnam War, he commanded a “Swift” patrol boat. He was awarded  two Bronze Stars and the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V.”

He is a member of the Capital Campaign Committee of Hospice of the Panhandle and a founding member of Keep Jefferson Beautiful. Ruland holds a master’s degree from Pace University’s Lubin School of business.

He and his wife, Josephine, have five children and five grandchildren. 

The newly configured and heavily Democratic 16th Senatorial District includes all of Jefferson County. It crosses the Berkeley County line and takes in all of the city of Martinsburg.

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 will be posted on through the West Virginia primary on May 8. To submit announcements, email them and a color photo (preferably a jpeg) to or Any questions? Call 301-791-7281.

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