By CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney believes voters across the Mountain State are ready for change — both in Washington and Charleston.
Maloney, a Morgantown businessman, is challenging Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for the second time in two years in West Virginia’s gubernatorial race. Both candidates recently met with members of the Daily Telegraph’s editorial board.
A resident of Morgantown, Maloney has an extensive background in the energy extraction field, and helped to play a role in the successful 2010 extraction of the 33 trapped miners in a hard rock mine in Chile. He is campaigning on a five-point blueprint for a brighter future, which includes creating jobs; controlling government spending; cleaning up state government; strengthening the state’s educational system; and making West Virginia a healthier place to live.
“It’s all about jobs and making it easier for people and businesses,” Maloney said. “It’s basic things. People get it. This year is a different animal with Obama at the head of the ticket. I know who I’m voting for as president. We just have so many great people who have been held back for so long.”
Maloney brought a miner’s hat into the editorial board session that included bumper stickers not only for his candidacy, but also Republican Mitt Romney for president.
Maloney was asked about job creation, prison overcrowding, support for coal, fighting Washington in Charleston, highway infrastructure, and other topics.
“I think the first thing to do is figure out a way to get less prisoners,” Maloney said in reference to the prison overcrowding question. “We’ve got to create an economy where people will have opportunities first off. So you are not prone to go back. Most of the overcrowding problems are the same guys and gals going back. You’ve got to break that cycle. I don’t want to let violent offenders go. They need to be in prison. But it seems like a lot of our youth that are in drug-related problems, we need to nip that in the bud right away. Tackling the drug problem is a big problem. But the last thing we want to do is build another prison. That’s a last resort in my book.”
Maloney was then asked what he would do as governor of West Virginia to fight the so-called war on coal.
“This was telling of our attitude at the Republican convention,” Maloney said. “We need to be energy independent in our country. We need to elect Mitt Romney first. I don’t even want to think of Barack Obama being re-elected.”
Maloney said the federal Environmental Protection Agency has 13 new industry crippling regulations coming in 2013. He said the EPA also is planning to crack down on cows.
“It’s unbelievable — green house gases from cows,” Maloney said as he displayed a booklet detailing upcoming EPA regulations for 2013. “It’s not just what you hear with this war on coal. It’s a war on common sense. This is unbelievable what is coming down the pipe from the EPA. We’ve got to do what makes sense for the environment. Nobody wants dirty water or dirty air. But it’s like the human element has been left out of the equation. We’ve got to take our country back. We are going to become a third-world country because we are trying to be do-gooders for the world.”
If elected as governor, Maloney said he will take on the federal government, and eliminate House Bill 103, which he refers to as the state’s own version of cap and trade. The legislation in question requires for 25 percent of power generated in West Virginia to come from alternate sources in 2015.
Maloney also was asked how he could help to create new economic development and growth in southern West Virginia.
“You’ve got an industrial park in Bluefield, Va., that is thriving and you’ve got one here that has weeds in it,” Maloney said. “It’s our courts. Our bureaucracy. Our cronyism. I think we need to start with tort reform. Those companies are here but there is so much room for growth if you take on our tort reform. If you look at our cracker (plant), which was our number one priority — we lost that to Pennsylvania. What was it (that caused the company to select Pennsylvania over West Virginia)? Tort reform? Our tax code? I know that’s not an easy thing. But we need to fundamentally fix the way we tax. The inventory tax is very aggressive. We need to fix that. It’s an easy fix.”
Maloney was then asked about the state’s highway and infrastructure needs, and where he would rank the King Coal Highway and Coalfields Expressway in terms of importance.
“Infrastructure funding is a huge thing,” Maloney said. “I know there is a Blue Ribbon Commission. A gas tax is not going to be sustainable for sustaining infrastructure needs. They are concerned, and everyone should be concerned about how you will fund infrastructure needs in the future. The first thing is we’ve got to prioritize our road projects. It seems like you build a little piece here and there. I realize there are a lot of requirements from the federal level. We need to promote natural gas. We need to promote propane. We need to promote all of the assets we have in West Virginia. And we can use that revenue stream for infrastructure.”
Maloney said he would rank the King Coal Highway “right up there in the top two or three” in terms of project priorities in a Maloney administration.
Maloney was then asked how to address the state’s drug problem, and whether he would support a state-funded alcohol and drug detox center for McDowell County.
“It’s generational,” Maloney said of the state’s rampant prescription drug abuse problem. “It just goes back to promoting family. Here in West Virginia we just need to get to the kids at an earlier age and educate them. Diversify the economy. Show kids at an early age that there is life out there beyond their narrow little world they receive. Keep kids active. There is just not enough things for them. Parks are something that are good and extra school activities are good.”
If McDowell County is selected as the site of a detox center, Maloney said he would support it.
“You’ve just got to promote your state better,” Maloney said. “There are manufacturers all across the world that want to come back to West Virginia. We just need to stop this overreach and all of these crazy regulations that keep coming down the pipe.”
– Contact Charles Owens at email@example.com