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Candidate Training Aims to Bring New Faces, Voices into WV Politics

Training sessions now starting are aimed at opening up West Virginia offices to new kinds of candidates. Credit: Our Children Our Future
Training sessions now starting are aimed at opening up West Virginia offices to new kinds of candidates. Credit: Our Children Our Future
November 12, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Candidate Training Academy is holding sessions around the state.

It's an effort to open the political process to everyone, organizers say.

A nonpartisan coalition is running four workshops for novice or prospective political candidates around the state.

The first one's tonight in Lewisburg.

Natalie Roper, executive director of the young people’s leadership group Generation West Virginia, says her organization wants more people connected and involved in how decisions are made. She says that's important when so many people feel alienated from political life.

"Something that feels out of reach, something that's only for a certain kind of person,” she states. “The primary goal of these candidate trainings is to make it something that people feel is possible for them."

After Lewisburg, the workshops will move to Martinsburg, Charleston and Wheeling over the next month. There's more at the Our Children Our Future website.

The coalition running the candidate trainings includes labor and community organizations, business executives and development groups.

Roper says every workshop will include panels with elected officials, both Democrats and Republicans. And she stresses they won't be there to debate, but to talk about how to run for office.

"None of the candidates will be speaking about their individual issues, but how they got to where they are, and the process,” she explains. “And that is the same for Republicans and Democrats alike."

According to the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, women are half of the state population, but only 15 percent of the state Legislature.

Similarly, it says people of color, young people and working families are badly underrepresented.

Roper says Generation West Virginia wants to give all sorts of people the tools to run for office at any level from school board to Congress.

"Giving West Virginians who want to lead opportunities and the skills they need to be able to take the steps to start running for office," she states.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV