Meet the candidates for W.Va. House of Delegates 12th District

WTAP News @ 5 - Meet the candidates for W.Va. House of Delegates 12th District
Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 4:59 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - With the election being a few days away, we are continuing to highlight the candidates for each race.

And the 12th district for the West Virginia House of Delegates could mean a lot of change in the area.

The seat is currently held by republican Vernon Criss.

Criss has served this position since 2016 and says he has been in and out of politics for the last 35 years.

Criss is a business owner and a fourth-generation resident in Parkersburg. The house delegate says that his experience and committees he is a part of is the reason why he is most qualified.

“My experience being able to sit down with outside people of the state to ensure that they’ve got a consistent and quality legislative program to bring new businesses into the area I think is the number one factor,” says Criss.

Criss is a part of the finance, health and banking committees and is the vice chair for the finance and banking committees.

Criss says his main focus if he wins will be inflation and new business opportunities in the area.

Criss’s democratic opponent is Jonathan Defibaugh Jr.

Defibaugh says he is a 23-year old lifetime Parkersburg resident and is currently finishing up his last semester at West Virginia University at Parkersburg and works part-time.

He says he has always had an interest in politics and believes that change needs to be made in politics for who is serving the public by age, but background as well.

He wants to look at ways to keep more young people in West Virginia.

“We should have a larger push for younger people to be participating in politics and voting. And have their interests represented,” says Defibaugh. “But there’s really not a lot of opportunity here especially financially and economically. If you don’t work at public debt or the couple of businesses downtown or you get a decent factory job, there’s really nothing here besides retail or fast food. So, a lot of people get their education here, they get it cheap and then they leave. So, maybe having some larger businesses investing in smaller businesses offering grants for people to stay, I think all of that would be good. Just getting young people a reason to actually settle down here instead of it being kind of a cheap last resort for a lot of people.”

Defibaugh says his three main focuses if he wins will be labor, health and bipartisanship in government.

And there is a third-party candidate in this race as well.

The previous two will be joined by libertarian, Stephen Smith.

Smith says he is a “Parkersburg lifer” and has spent most of his life as an accountant and financial manager for a variety of businesses in the area. He was also a professor in accounting at West Virginia University at Parkersburg and is now retired.

Smith says he wants to bring a new perspective to how government is run in the 12th district.

“Government is not like a business. People say, ‘run like a business.’ Well, I understand that it means be prudent with how you spend money and I think that’s important, but the motivation is different. We’re not trying to make a profit in government, we’re trying to provide services,” says Smith. “I believe services are an important part of what government does. So, I feel like I’ve got a management type background with dealing with people, organizations, teams and I can be effective in this job.”

Smith says that he has a significant interest in the future of West Virginia and if he wins, he wants to look for new job opportunities for the area. Especially for younger people.