By C.V. Moore
Three incumbents trounced a third party candidate in the race for House of Delegates seats in the 32nd District on Tuesday.
Margaret Staggers, John Pino and David Perry will head back to the statehouse in 2012, defeating Mountain Party candidate Tighe Bullock, who garnered 2,564 votes with all 39 precincts reporting.
Staggers lead the pack slightly with 8,451 votes.
“I want to thank everyone for their confidence in me, and I hope I can continue to serve them the way they’ve come to expect and make the 32nd District the most exciting and important district in the state,” she says. “Thanks a million.”
Perry and Pino followed with 8,166 and 7,959 votes, respectively.
“I’m certainly grateful for the people who took the time to go and vote,” says Pino. “I’m pleased they’ve chosen me ... and I promise them that when I cast my vote in Charleston it will be with those people back home foremost in my mind, to the remotest part of my district.
Pino says the Legislature as a whole needs to “keep West Virginia on an even keel.”
“We have problems to solve in the area of substance abuse and drop-outs ... We have to keep in mind the largest growing segment of our population, our senior citizens, and do what we can to keep their retirement secure and comfortable.”
“I think one of the main issues in the next legislative session will be education, in particular in light of the state audit that has taken place,” said Perry, who spent the evening at the Courthouse keeping track of election returns. “I look forward to serving the people of the 32nd district again.”
With a population of 57,586, the 32nd district covers all of Fayette County; the Bradley/Prosperity/Stanaford area of Raleigh County; three precincts in the western corner of Nicholas County, including Dixie and Belva; and two precincts in the southern tip of Clay County.
Of the three incumbents, Pino has spent the most time at the statehouse, first serving from 1984-1986, followed by terms from 1992-2006 and 2010 to present. Perry was first elected to District 29 (now district 32) in 2000. Staggers was elected in 2006.
Staggers, Pino and Perry each received a relatively even share of votes during the Democratic primary this May. Totals were 3,721, 3,507, and 3,653, respectively.
Pino narrowly edged out Oak Hill businessman Tom Louisos by 146 votes in the primary.
For her campaign, Staggers borrows the talents of family and friends to produce YouTube commercials for her candidacy each election. In one of the light-hearted skits, Staggers gets arrested for doing a great job at the statehouse.
Her grandson always plays a part, usually chiming in with “A vote for Margaret Staggers is good for the heart.” At the end of each video, her family sings a jingle, “Staggers is the best for you!”
The videos have become a tradition, with other Fayette County politicos making cameos. Circuit Clerk Danny Wright, for example, dons a wig and black robe in one skit to play a judge.
Staggers is an emergency physician and paramedic who lives in Fayetteville. She is the daughter of the late former Congressman Harley Staggers and Mary Staggers. She served as the past president of the West Virginia Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians; past chairman and member of the National Faculty, West Virginia Chapter, of the American Heart Association; and a fellow at the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Staggers is chair of the House Committee on Roads and Transportation, and serves as a member of the committees on Government Organization, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs/Homeland Security, and House Select Committee on Redistricting. She sits on Gov. Early Ray Tomblin’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways.
John Pino of Oak Hill was born in 1931 in Mount Hope, the son of Santa and Pietro Pino. He has eight children. First elected to the House in 1984, he has served a total of 18 years in the House.
Pino is treasurer of the Fayette Chapter of the American Red Cross; vice president of the Fayette AARP; and a member of the Knights of Columbus. He is former chair of the Oak Hill Zoning Appeals Board and serves on the Board of Directors of the Putnam Aging Program and the Plateau Business Development Corporation.
Currently, Pino is vice chair of the House Committee on Economic Development and Small Business. He is a member of committees on the Judiciary, Natural Resources and Senior Citizen Issues.
Dave Perry, born in 1952 in Oak Hill, is the son of the Rev. Cecil H. Perry and Virginia B. Perry and a resident of Oak Hill. He was educated at Beckley College and Marshall University and has two children. He is a veteran educator with 34 years of experience. He was a principal for 32 years, 19 of which were spent at Collins Middle School.
Perry is chairman of the Fayette County Democratic Executive Committee and a member of the Fayette County Zoning Commission, Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, Fayette County Sheriff’s Advisory Council, Fayette County Principal’s Association, Oak Hill Recreational Committee, and the steering committee of West Virginia Tech.
At the Capitol, Perry is chair of the House Committee on Insurance and a member of the Education and Health and Human Resources committees.
Tighe Bullock, Mountain Party candidate for House 32, says he decided to run for the seat out of protest of the two-party system rather than a desire to end mountaintop removal.
“I really feel like a lot of people are disenfranchised by just having two options,” he says.
Bullock won nearly 10 percent of the vote.
“I don’t really consider myself a Mountain Party adherent ... I think heavy regulations for the (coal) industry are a necessary thing, but I don’t believe in completely getting rid of coal.
“I think we should focus more on Marcellus shale and figure out an ecologically and economically sustainable way to take advantage of our state’s resources.”
Bullock, 24, splits his time between Charleston and Thurmond, where his family has a home and where he serves on city council. He is a 2011 graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in business management and accounting.
Promotion of tourism and pursuit of smaller government are important issues for the candidate.
Bullock did not campaign in Fayette County. He says his participation in the race was more about learning than an expectation of victory.
“I learned some about campaign finance and how the political system runs,” he says. “I think I’m going to actively pursue it next time around, now that I’ve got some experience.”
— E-mail: email@example.com