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Jim Justice stops by three W.Va. cities to discuss race

Journal photo by Ron Agnir Greenbrier Resort owner Jim Justice has entered the race for the 2016 West Virginia govenor seat. He visited Martinsburg on Tuesday for a brief meet and greet media tour stop.
Journal photo by Ron Agnir
Greenbrier Resort owner Jim Justice has entered the race for the 2016 West Virginia govenor seat. He visited Martinsburg on Tuesday for a brief meet and greet media tour stop.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — When asked why he would want to enter the political arena and run for governor, West Virginia native Jim Justice said the answer was an easy one – his love for the state.

After filing his pre-candidacy paperwork Tuesday, Justice traveled to Martinsburg as part of his three-city media tour, which also included Clarksburg and Wheeling, to discuss his candidacy and platform.

Seeking the Democratic nomination, Justice, a coal executive, stated it was his love of West Virginia’s people and culture that prompted him to run for governor, an idea he had been contemplating for about six years. If elected governor, he said his platform includes changing the reputation of the state, creating a high educational standard and promoting job and business growth.

“I’m good at having a vision to be able to go out in the world and sell West Virginia. In West Virginia, we’ve got enough things against us. You’ve got to be able to step up and pound the round peg into the square hole and make it happen,” he said.

Justice said it is necessary for the state to improve its reputation and education standards in order to attract new residents and businesses as well as create jobs enabling residents to remain in the state rather than move away for work.

Justice did not discuss his specific plans for how to accomplish his vision for the state’s changes, stating it was something he was still refining.

While he did not have a specific idea for how the Eastern Panhandle would promote his vision for the state, Justice said the tri-county area presented the same opportunities and struggles found throughout the state that he wished to improve upon.

“There’s a lot I’ve still got to learn about the Eastern Panhandle and different sections of the state. I see the opportunities as limitless. (The Eastern Panhandle) is within striking distance of huge populations, but really and truly are you growing at a level to where you should be? I don’t think so. Are the people of the Eastern Panhandle content that you’re doing as good as you can do? I doubt it,” he said.

“I think there’s opportunity after opportunity waiting for (the Eastern Panhandle) if people would just open your eyes,” he said.

Although he has never held a political office before, Justice said that point is actually one of his strongest suits, as he said he does not have a hidden agenda and is willing to work with all political parties to accomplish his goals.

To date, the only other Democratic candidate to file pre-candidacy papers is State Senate Minority Leader Jeffrey V. Kessler.

Justice has owned the Greenbrier Resort since buying it from bankruptcy in 2009. Forbes estimates Justice’s net worth at $1.69 billion, with the main source of his wealth as coal. He oversees numerous companies and organizations, including Justice Family Farms in West Virginia and four other states.

Justice currently lives in Lewisburg with his wife, Cathy, of 39 years.

– Staff writer Samantha Cronk can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 132, or twitter.com/scronkJN.

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