BUCKHANNON — His name isn’t on the ballot, but S. Marshall Wilson came to tell The Record Delta and folks of Upshur County why he should be your write-in choice for Governor. Wilson is currently serving in the West Virginia House of Delegates from District 60, which covers part of Berkeley County. Elected as a Republican in 2016 and re-elected in 2018, Wilson has since changed his party affiliation to Independent. If elected as Governor of West Virginia, Wilson explained, “My job would be to restructure the Executive Branch to function according to the Constitution, to uphold and defend your individual natural rights, and to accomplish its assigned tasks.”
While in Buckhannon, Wilson’s friend Mike Shaw set up a meet and greet at the park on Thursday evening. Wilson said he has a network of approximately 4,200 friends across the state who are eager to facilitate his community visits and help him campaign.
Wilson and Shaw stopped by The Record Delta to explain why his name should be on the ballot and why they believe he should be the next Governor of West Virginia. The interview began with the loaded question, “How would you have handled the pandemic differently?” Wilson explained his extensive background in Emergency Operations Planning, which he gained during more than 20 years of service in and to the United States military. Wilson said he was one of three officers responsible for re-writing Louisiana’s All Hazards Operations Plan (AHOP) based on lessons learned following the response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He was later hired by Maryland’s National Guard to write their AHOP. Wilson described his background to let people know, “I know what I am talking about; I’ve done this before.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, Governor Justice declared a State of Preparedness, which Wilson agreed with; however, Wilson said he would not have moved forward with a State of Emergency. He explained that an emergency for the state is eminent or on-going, with massive destruction of human life or private property, or massive destruction of key critical infrastructure; therefore, when there is an emergency for the state, a state of emergency should be declared. “There is no destruction of key critical infrastructure, there is no massive loss of human life… there have been people who have become ill and some who have died, and that is an issue that we need to deal with, but it is not an emergency by the definition we use according to emergency operations. There hasn’t been a destruction of private property – well there has, but that wasn’t because of COVID, that was from the Government’s response to COVID,” Wilson asserted. He surmised, “The actual emergency is imposed on the people by the Government.”
With that being said, Wilson explained he would have had an AHOP in place and acted accordingly. An “All Hazards” plan is just that – it is to cover all historically speaking hazards, such as chemical spills, natural disasters, etc. Wilson said the state still does not currently have an All Hazards Operations Plan to his knowledge. Within this plan alone, Wilson said he would have had drastically different plans to combat the pandemic. He also explained how he would’ve coordinated with other states and governments for collaboration and assistance.
When it comes to what he would not have done, Wilson stated, “The governor has no authority over private entities,” which includes churches, private schools, businesses and individuals. Wilson explained he would not have shut down or told private entities what to do, including requirements to wear masks.
When it comes to natural gas and coal in West Virginia, Wilson is a strong proponent. He expressed, “The age of fossil fuels is far from over.” Wilson asserted that West Virginia’s economy is dependent upon its natural resources and will be for a long time; however, he also believes we should be exploring other sources of energy such as wind, hydroelectric, nuclear power plants, etc. “We should be fracking, but we should do it responsibly and people should be held accountable, do the right thing.” According to Wilson, West Virginia has a bad habit of allowing people to extract our resources and take them elsewhere. “What we need to do is, convince these industries to move their downstream processing into West Virginia. For example, when people extract our petroleum, they need to use that gas to make electricity, that then powers the plants to make plastics, then powers the plant to make products out of the plastics.”
According to Wilson, Justice put the state into debt $3 billion for his “Roads to Prosperity” project. “Where are those roads?” he questioned. “It’s not just a matter of patching a few potholes…it’s not just a matter of resurfacing two miles through Nitro. We need to re-engineer a lot of these roads in these small communities.” Wilson has a plan to prioritize the repair of the state’s roads, starting with the roads that need fixed for safety purposes, then making roads more drivable, such as those with huge ruts and potholes. Aside from that, preventative maintenance also needs to be planned out and projected, including cost and scheduling, he explained. In Wilson’s opinion, all of this information should be available on the Department of Highway’s website, letting people know when and where road repair and maintenance will be completed.
When Wilson returned from Iraq, he married his wife, Julie and moved to Martinsburg, West Virginia. Shortly after moving here, Wilson said he visited Charleston to see what was going on. He expressed, “Some people I cared a great deal about died so that we could engage in this process – so we could run our own lives, run our own government.” Wilson explained he was very disappointed and bothered by his first visit to Charleston, where he sat in a committee hearing and heard people that he had previously respected, and even admired, making jokes out of the things his friends had died for. After returning home, Wilson and his wife had a conversation regarding what took place in Charleston and she encouraged him to run for office. His response to his wife was, “I’m not the political type…I don’t like politics, I don’t like politicians; I think they basically need to uphold the Constitution and otherwise leave us alone.” And she responded, “That is why I want you to be my Delegate.” Three days after their conversation, he said their district’s Delegate announced that he would be running for State Treasurer. Fueled by people who assumed he had no chance in winning, Wilson buckled down and began campaigning – hard! He went door to door with business cards, a tank of gas, and stated, “I’m Marshall Wilson. I’m a dad, a husband, a combat veteran, a former missionary, I love the Constitution and I’d like you to consider hiring me as your Delegate.” And they did – not once, but twice.
Wilson explained his first experience as Delegate consisted of Governor Justice’s first act of ordering them to get a $450 million tax increase from the people of West Virginia. Wilson said he asked Justice, “How does taking $450 million out of a broken economy strengthen the economy? How do I go home and explain to the people who sent me here with the one message to not raise their taxes, and tell them that I agreed to take more of their taxes on orders from a Governor that still owes the state $4.4 million in taxes?” He continued, “That’s who your Governor is. That’s who the Republican party chose as their candidate, and that’s why I am here.”
Wilson said he is supportive of the further legalization of marijuana. He stated that he was one of the few people who voted in favor of passing the medical marijuana bill and also voted to lessen restrictions and double licenses. “I don’t think there should be licenses or restrictions though. I think people should just be able to run their own business, but since the amendment was going to pass, I talked him into making it half as oppressive.” Wilson conferred with his wife who practices as a nurse anesthetist for the Navy, about her professional opinion regarding the medicinal properties of marijuana prior to supporting it. Regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana and its economic impact for the state, Wilson explained, “For the people of West Virginia, for the society, for the people who work hard and build businesses here, it’s great.”
Aside from being a retired combat veteran and current delegate, Wilson said he would be a fulltime Governor with no outside interests. Absent from home for a month now, Wilson said he has been traveling the state, campaigning hard in order to provide a better future for his kids and the people of West Virginia.
Wilson is a retired US Army Infantry Officer with 20 years of military service. He also taught systematic theology as a missionary to jungle pastors in the Peruvian Amazon for 2 years. He and his wife, Julie Barr, are the parents of nine kids, including two adopted from Peru. Originally from Louisiana, Wilson moved to his wife’s hometown – Martinsburg, West Virginia. As Wilson stated on his website, marshallforwv.com, “It has become evident to me that West Virginians need and deserve a Governor who has laid his life on the line to uphold and defend the individual Natural Rights of others and will continue to do so to his last breath. I meet that criterion and I have an extensive background in organizational leadership and operational planning, which has compelled me to volunteer for this mission to become Governor of West Virginia and establish constitutional governance which upholds the individual Natural Rights of each citizen.”