By July 11, 2017 Read More →

Veteran announces bid for Alex Mooney’s congressional seat

By JAKE ZUCKERMAN

Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An Army veteran and former nonprofit director announced his plan Monday to challenge Republican Alex Mooney for his seat in West Virginia’s second congressional district.

Aaron Scheinberg

Aaron Scheinberg said he plans to run as a Democrat in the 2018 election. He previously worked as the Northeast executive director of The Mission Continues, an organization designed to help veterans readjust and find purpose in their communities at home.

Having served for five years on active duty with the U.S. Army himself, discharged as a captain, Scheinberg said he wants to re-emphasize the service aspect of public service.

“West Virginia obviously is facing a lot of issues that require real leaders, real servant-leaders,” he said. “Unfortunately for us, Alex Mooney is not that person. He is not a servant-leader, he doesn’t understand West Virginia values. He doesn’t listen to us. It’s evident in his choice in the American Health Care Act, he said on record that this is something that’s good for West Virginia. Obviously it isn’t, and we deserve better, and I feel like it’s my sense of duty to do something about it, and that’s why I’m running for Congress.”

In response to the comments about Mooney, Ted Dacey, a spokesman for the congressman, said in a provided statement that Mooney is proud of his tenure in Congress.

“I am proud of my conservative voting record,” Mooney said in the statement. “I will continue to stand with President Donald Trump to repeal Obamacare, defend the Second Amendment and revive our coal industry. I am confident West Virginia voters support my positions on the issues and I look forward to continuing to represent them.”

A New Jersey native, after his time in Iraq, Scheinberg lived abroad for a few years doing work in developing countries, before working in the private sector in the U.S. He worked out of New York while directing The Mission Continues’ Northeast sector, which includes West Virginia, until he moved to Hedgesville, Berkeley County, earlier this year.

Though he has no political experience of his own, Scheinberg said his work history with the Army, his efforts abroad and his nonprofit work have given him a solid background in public service, leadership and civics.

In a sentiment likely to be shared by Democrats throughout the election cycle, Scheinberg said he plans to emphasize affordable access to health care as a policy point on the campaign trail, along with rebuilding the state’s aging infrastructure, bringing jobs back to the state, reinvigorating the workforce by keeping young people from leaving and finding ways to improve local schools.

To solve these issues, Scheinberg said he’s approaching the campaign trail as a service tour. He said most of his events will be community-focused listening sessions or hands-on service projects.

“You’ve got to go out there and listen,” he said. “You have to be able to unite the community to solve tough challenges. More specifically, I’m going to be working to find out how can we have some more community-based solutions to opioid crisis? How can we work with teachers to advance education here? What can we do to bring in more resources to build our infrastructure? How can we develop an economy that is not just playing catch-up? That we’re not just running after the next big thing, but we’re trying to bring in people from the outside to solve our problems, but how do we invest in the human capital we have here and the young people who want to stay here? What are the forward thinking technologies we can invest in?”

Along with economic and health issues, Scheinberg said national security and maintaining a strong military presence will be other key focus points.

Citing his combat experience, Scheinberg said he knows how to work with people. He said he led teams that built bridges, roads, water canals, water purification units and schools while stationed south of Baghdad, in the thick of the war.

To him, there’s nothing productive to come from talking about where someone falls on the political spectrum; what matters is how that person can effect change in his or her communities.

“I think people are tired of partisans,” he said. “People are tired of people like Alex Mooney who don’t deliver, who don’t listen to them, who aren’t real public servants, who aren’t bringing us together, who aren’t coming up with community-based solutions. By the time the election comes on they’re going to be ready to fire Alex Mooney and they’re going to be ready for a fresh, new generation of leadership.”

Along with graduating from the U.S. Military Academy, Scheinberg has a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University and an MBA from Columbia University in New York. He currently lives in his grandparents’ family home in Hedgesville, with his wife and daughter.

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