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W.Va. Sen. Ojeda tackles issues facing the Mountain State


The Logan Banner

MADISON, W.Va. — State Sen. Richard Ojeda, D-Logan, addressed constituent issues during a campaign stop Saturday in Boone County. The event took place at the Hacienda in Madison, where Ojeda heard concerns and questions from constituents in the area.

Sen. Richard Ojeda, D-Logan, answers questions from constituents during a campaign stop Saturday at the Hacienda in Madison.
(Photo by Nancy Peyton)
Ojeda is currently in the running for the Third Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., who is running for the U.S. Senate in the 2018 election. Ojeda announced his candidacy in May and has since been making stops at various locations and doing weekly Q&A videos on Facebook.

“I go on social media about every seven to 10 days, and I do live videos,” Ojeda said. “I do these live videos so you all can ask me anything you want. I am the type of person that believes a politician should be accessible to everyone and should be accountable. If I cast a vote, and you don’t agree with it, you can go on social media to ask about the vote, and I will be upfront and honest with you.”

Ojeda just finished his first legislative session as a state senator. He made waves during session, most notably for being the lead sponsor on the medical marijuana bill that was eventually passed this session.

“I’m going to try to decriminalize marijuana,” Ojeda said. “It doesn’t mean that I’m for smoking marijuana on the streets out here, but I believe that if we decriminalize marijuana maybe we can get the records of people who are considered felons after being caught at 19 years old with two marijuana cigarettes cleaned so they can be productive members of society and care for their families.”

Ojeda also sponsored a bill requiring correctional officers to be paid overtime, legislation to create incentives for hiring correctional officers and a bill to create jobs for displaced miners and returning veterans. Ojeda sponsored a total of seven bills during the 2017 session, with the “Creating WV Medical Cannabis Act” the only one signed into law, according to the West Virginia Legislature website.

Ojeda is a retired military officer, serving in the United States Army for 24 years. He taught in the JROTC program at Chapmanville Regional High School for four years before resigning earlier this summer.

This is not Ojeda’s first run for the third district seat. He ran for the seat in 2014, losing to incumbent Nick Rahall in the primary. Rahall went on to lose the general election to Jenkins.

“I never really wanted to get into politics,” Ojeda said. “When I came home I was sickened at what I saw. I grew up in Logan County. I loved this place and I moved my family back here. I will tell you, there were a lot of things when I came back here that absolutely saddened me.”

So far, three Democrats and three Republicans have filed for candidacy in the race following Jenkins’ announcement that he will challenge Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in the 2018 election.

Facing Ojeda in the Democratic primary is Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, whom Ojeda has dubbed an “out of sight, out of mind” politician. Tri-State Transit Authority CEO Paul Davis, of Huntington, is also seeking the seat.

On the GOP ticket, Del. Carol Miller, of Huntington, Del. Rupie Phillips, of Logan, and Rick Snuffer, of Raleigh will all face off.

Ojeda said despite the wide range of competition for the seat, he feels confident about his campaign thus far.

“I feel good about the momentum,” Ojeda said. “In terms of the videos I’ve been doing, they’ve got a lot of shares. It’s going phenomenal.”

Ojeda has about 25 events planned so far between now and the end of September all across the third district.

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