BUCKHANNON — Charleston native Cathy Kunkel, energy policy expert and public advocate, will be running as the Democratic candidate for West Virginia’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House, if she secures the nomination. Kunkel visited the CREATE Buckhannon meeting last Thursday. Currently, she is the only Democrat in the running for the 2020 election. Kunkel will challenge Republican Congressman Alex Mooney in the November 2020 general election.
For the last nine years, Kunkel has worked on energy policy and testified on behalf of the public service commission for consumer groups, in favor of preserving net metering for residential solar. Kunkel got involved when American Water Systems was contaminated in Charleston in 2014 by the Freedom Industries spills. More recently Kunkel became an advocate for Rise Up West Virginia.
Kunkel is interested in steering away from the extracted economic model and figuring out what that looks like, along with showing more support for smaller business development. Kunkel also mentioned the need for rural broadband and federal monies to make that happen, safe drinking water, and better infrastructure throughout the state. Kunkel was interested in Buckhannon and the growth shown throughout the county. “If you want a measurable outcome over the last ten years the downtown property prices have increased 200-300%,” stated City Councilor and CREATE member CJ Rylands.
“Fundamentally, it is working together,” furthered Rylands. “In the last few years, the new and different businesses here downtown, we had over 15 on Main Street and now the Innovation Center on the corner,” added Melody Stemple, CREATE Member. Stemple indicated that the county has a small business development authority and business coach that helps bring businesses to the area. Rylands addressed that the model for CREATE is that the community should be welcoming, and that people’s ideas are valued, it is not impulses guiding their behavior.
Kunkel reported that she met with some people from The Opportunity House while visiting, and much of the federal funding for addiction treatment and prevention is short-term. Kunkel wants to address long-term solution. Kathy McMurray added, “We now have a whole cohort—an entire generation, rather—that has been affected from birth through their entire childhood, in some cases of living, in those circumstances, having been exposed, and now child care centers and schools are going to be very hard hit,” McMurray continued. “It is going to be a real obstacle to learning and environment that is conducive; we are just at the tip of the iceberg.”
The lines are going to have to be redrawn for the districts, and depending on the Census and the population model, the state has the potential to lose funding and political representation. WV currently has three congressional representatives but is at risk of going down to only two representatives for the US House of Delegates. Kunkel stated, “Frustration is why I got into this race; I didn’t see the current representative serving the district well and the overwhelming number of problems facing our state.” CREATE Buckhannon thanks Cathy Kunkel for visiting and sharing information on her platform.