By Rachel Molenda
Eastern Panhandle voters will take to the polls on Nov. 6 in order to choose their next U.S. Senator. Democratic incumbent, Joe Manchin, said he feels he is the man for the job.
Manchin cited his experience as governor of West Virginia as one of his top qualifications to hold his current senate seat. He compared the financial situation of the state when he entered office with the current financial state of the country, saying both needed to address spending and work toward a reasonable budget.
"(West Virginia) had surpluses every year. We just lived within our means, and we ended up with, three straight years in a row, ... credit rating increases," he said of the state under his administration.
Growing up in a small town called Farmington, Manchin said he was always a business-minded person. His grandfather owned a grocery store in which Manchin worked as a young person.
"I was always held accountable and responsible for what I did," he said.
Manchin said it is his goal to bring that spirit as well as his experience as governor to his position as a senator.
"I'm trying to bring that same type of experience and share it (in Washington)," he said.
Manchin cited meaningful spending on sectors such as education and research and development as a few of his top priorities.
"You can spend government dollars or you can invest it," he said.
The senator voiced concern that students, especially in West Virginia, are not getting the skills they need from their schooling.
"There's got to be a better way to make sure that we're competing at a higher level and obtaining better results," Manchin said.
Manchin also mentioned a fairer tax system that would more evenly distribute those costs.
"(We should) close loopholes in offsets and credits so everyone can be sure they're paying their share," he said. "You can do that in a fair and balanced way."
"I support businesses, but I (also) support working people."
Manchin said looking into other sources of energy such as natural gas would be beneficial to West Virginia, citing the Marcellus Shale project as one example.
The senator said building a more efficient energy plan without hurting large industries such as coal is a topic that he finds to be important to West Virginia. Citing statistics that, globally, billions of tons of coal are burned each year, Manchin said the United States' one billion is a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to environmental concerns.
"If you believe that if you stop burning coal in America to clean up the environment, then you believe the world is flat," Manchin said.
He, instead, suggested working to develop cleaner, more efficient technologies for the processing of coal. Manchin added that the U.S., specifically West Virginia, could find an economic advantage to doing so.
"If we can find the technologies that (countries like China are) able to utilize and sell it to them, then we'll be better all around," he said.
While Manchin acknowledged the negative impact that sourcing resources such as coal and natural gas can have, he said he believes there is a responsible way to tap into them.
"I have never met a human being in WV that wants to drink dirty water or smell and breathe dirty air," he said. "But (West Virginians) want jobs too, and we have it within our power to do it all."