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Endorsement: Leonhardt right for Ag commissioner

An editorial from The Journal of Martinsburg:

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. — Kent Leonhardt’s work as a state senator has benefited many West Virginians. He has played an important role in reforming government during the past two years.

Now he is running for state commissioner of agriculture, a position for which many voters may not be aware of his qualifications and stances on the issues. Some may wonder what the people who really know about agriculture think of Leonhardt.

They like him, so much that the West Virginia Farm Bureau, with more than 23,000 members, has endorsed Leonhardt for agriculture commissioner.

In contrast, many in the Farm Bureau are unhappy with the current commissioner, Walt Helmick. In September, the bureau called for an investigation of state Department of Agriculture practices. Some of the agency’s projects “put them in direct competition with West Virginia agriculture producers,” the bureau explained.

Leonhardt wants to work with farmers to help them achieve more success, to get more home-grown food to Mountain State residents, and to increase the role agriculture plays in our economy.

His credentials are impressive. He served for 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, retiring in 1996 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. While in the service, he received important decorations including the Legion of Merit and the Combat Action Ribbon.

Leonhardt’s college education, culminating in a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management, included intensive training in various areas of agriculture.

He is a hands-on farmer who, with his wife, bought and restored a farm that had been abandoned for more than 40 years in western Monongalia County.

Voters face some challenging decisions in the Nov. 8 election. But for West Virginia commissioner of agriculture, the choice is clear. This Journal joins the Farm Bureau in endorsing Leonhardt and recommending voters cast their ballots for him.

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