Candidate challenging Justice for GOP nomination visits Follansbee

FOLLANSBEE — A Republican candidate for governor said, if elected, he will push for administrative cuts to the West Virginia Department of Transportation to support more road crews and a revamp of the state’s tax code.

Charles Sheedy Sr. of Cameron has some knowledge of the WVDOT, having worked his way up from equipment operator to administrator of the Marshall County maintenance garage of the department’s Division of Highways over a nearly 30 year career.

He joined several candidates for local offices in addressing the Brooke County Republican Party on Tuesday at the Follansbee Library’s meeting room.

Sheedy said he doesn’t believe the state needs a secretary of transportation and a commissioner of highways, two positions with salaries of more than $100,000 each.

Tom Smith had served both roles until last year, when Gov. Jim Justice appointed two men to fill them.

Sheedy said cutting that and possibly other administrative positions would allow more laborers to be hired to address many state roads in poor condition.

He said WVDOT’s management practices need to be improved. He said statewide contracts between the department and vendors have been touted as money-saving but they prevent local maintenance garages from acquiring parts and materials in a timely fashion from local businesses.

Sheedy said more communication also is needed to ensure road projects aren’t counterproductive, such as restriping roadways that will be repaved in the near future.

Sheedy said as governor, he would push for the elimination of tax on homes and vehicles, while preserving tax on land, and the establishment of an occupational privilege tax.

The tax would be paid by people who live in other states and work in West Virginia and, he said, benefit from the state’s roads and services.

Sheedy said the tax would apply to the many workers in the natural gas and oil industries who temporarily live in the state but own no taxable property.

Asked if the tax would deter people from working in West Virginia, Sheedy said, “I’ve spoken to union officials who said people will go where the work is. It won’t deter them.”

Sheedy said he also would support elimination of the business inventory tax, currently under consideration by the state Legislature. He said doing so would encourage current and new businesses to expand or open in West Virginia.

“It’s not government’s place to create jobs. It’s government’s place to create a climate where businesses can thrive so people can create the jobs,” he said.

Sheedy said he is an Army veteran, having retired as master sergeant after nearly 30 years, and would apply his military experience to working with others under sometimes stressful circumstances.

“I can work under the gun and under normal conditions,” he said.