An editorial from The Times West Virginian
FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Jim Justice’s passion for success and his love of and commitment to West Virginia started receiving extensive attention across the state in 2009.
At that time, The Greenbrier resort in White Sulfur Springs was facing bankruptcy. Justice, recognized as West Virginia’s wealthiest individual, purchased The Greenbrier. Justice gave it a $250 million facelift and turned it into a 10,000-acre complex.
Major events, including the PGA Tour, came to The Greenbrier. The NFL’s New Orleans Saints hold training camp there.
That’s the demonstrated can-do ability we want to see in West Virginia’s next governor, and we’re confident Justice, a Democrat who is facing a strong opponent in Republican Senate President Bill Cole, will be successful if elected Tuesday.
Justice’s business interests include agriculture, timber and milling operations across the South. He is the president and CEO of 102 different companies.
At the same time, he remains heavily involved in the community. When horrible flooding hit the southern part of West Virginia in June, for example, he opened The Greenbrier to people who were left homeless.
Justice noted in the race for governor that “I don’t need the money. I don’t need the prestige. I don’t need the status.”
“Why am I running?” Justice said. “I’m not running for another office. It doesn’t really matter to me if you’re a Republican, if you’re a Democrat or an independent. All that matter to me is West Virginia, and I just want goodness for West Virginia. That is the only reason in the world I am running.”
Coal has obviously had its problems but has a future in West Virginia, Justice believes.
“Don’t give up on coal,” he said. “I know this business. It’s a lot of what I’ve done. I really believe that you’re going to see an upswing in severance taxes in this state from the coal side that are very dramatic. Metallurgical (coal) prices have in excess tripled in value.”
He also sees great opportunities in areas such as natural gas, timber and tourism.
Education must be a priority, he argues, to help with economic diversification and with growth in opportunities for West Virginia’s people.
“Perception becomes reality,” Justice said. “Education could be an image changer for us, if we improved it greatly. It could in essence drive revenue to us.”
“I think you’ll see dramatic growth and dramatic increases in revenue and no tax increases,” he said. “There will be some things that are totally wasteful and totally repetitive that we need to get rid of. I’ll cleanse it top to bottom.”
Justice believes the state has to provide help and offer a way back for nonviolent opioid abusers, but “we ought to lay the hammer on” people who brings drugs into West Virginia.
Justice and Cole, in fact, have similar views on many issues, and are both strong, capable candidates.
Justice’s decades of proven success with the focus on West Virginia and its people bring a positive attitude that simply can’t be overlooked.
“I don’t want a thing for me, except I want us to quit being 50th in everything,” he concluded. “I can really help.”
Justice has earned our endorsement in his race for governor.