40 years old; lifelong resident of Berkeley County; Republican candidate
Community Service Experience — Past President of Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center Board; former member of Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority; current member of Berkeley County Development Authority
Work Experience & Education — Owner of Anthony’s Pizza-Inwood, Tudor’s Biscuit World-Inwood, Goin’ Postal-Martinsburg; Martinsburg High School, Shepherd University
The candidate’s responses below were edited only for clarity & spelling.
What made you decide to run for the state Senate?
I’ve served eight years in the House of Delegates. During those eight years I have developed an in-depth knowledge of the state’s budget and I’ve fought tirelessly to address Eastern Panhandle-specific issues. I feel that I can and should do even more for our state and for our community and I think serving in the WV Senate will allow me to do just that.
What should local residents expect from a state Senator?
I have a record of being accessible and responsive to constituents. When someone calls me, I answer and I immediately go to work on their behalf. Residents can expect me to always work to control state spending and government overreach. It’s important that we have a tax policy that allows our citizens to keep more of their hard-earned wages. I have always fought for tax reductions and will continue to do this as a state senator, particularly with the upcoming property tax discussions. I believe we must work to improve public education while also giving parents and children options to choose the style of learning that best fits their needs. I will continue to push for improvements on both fronts.
What priorities would you advocate for in the legislature?
One of my biggest priorities in the upcoming session will be to find the best possible method to eliminate the car tax for our residents, as well as the business equipment and inventory tax. I also plan to continue to work hard to bring locality pay to our state’s public employees.
Is there specific recent WV legislation (enacted) that you disagree with and would look to modify?
In 2017, the legislature voted to increase the gasoline tax and to raise the registration fees on automobiles – hybrid and electric vehicles saw an even greater increase. I voted against all of these measures and would love to work to modify each of these things in the future.
Is there specific recent WV legislation (not enacted) that you would like to re-introduce?
In the last legislative session, there was a bill to split DHHR (WV Department of Health & Human Resources) into two separate state agencies. Ultimately the bill did not complete the legislative process, but I believe it should. DHHR is currently too big of a government agency, with too many moving parts, to serve our residents efficiently and effectively. I believe breaking this massive government agency into two smaller agencies will ensure we are providing the best possible services to the people who need us the most while also ensuring we are being efficient with the tax dollars that are funding these programs.
The legislature is likely to take up debate on several issues affected by recent court decisions or left unresolved from prior sessions. What thoughts can you share with voters?
I absolutely support tax cuts for West Virginians. The state has done a good job of holding flat line budgets in recent years, allowing for record surpluses. It’s now time to return some of that money to the taxpayers. Eliminating the car tax to ease the burden on our residents, as well as the business equipment and inventory taxes to help our small businesses is of the utmost importance to me. I’ve heard overwhelming support to eliminate the car tax from local citizens, and I plan to work on their behalf to see that this is accomplished. The monetary aspect of removing the tax is important but also, removing the hassle of filing annual forms with the county assessor is important. We have many new WV residents with out-of-state tags. Removing the car tax and filing requirements would help ensure our new residents tag their cars in WV. Currently counties must offer PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreements to attract large business to our region and state. Small businesses don’t receive such benefits. The business equipment and inventory taxes are the last large impediment to business development and growth in WV. It is important that when these taxes are removed we develop a formula based plan to keep counties whole. Under no circumstance would I support a plan that negativity impacts Jefferson and Berkeley counties. I also believe we should have a long-term goal of significantly reducing our state’s income tax.
I am pro-life. I believe we should trust the science of human fetal development and protect and support the life of both the mother and the baby.
The amount of federal money that comes into our school system is not dependent on enrollment numbers, therefore these school choice measures do not impact those funds. Only the state portion of funding is modified by any change in enrollment. Because of this, when a student leaves the traditional public school and goes into a charter school, private school, or homeschool the public schools continue to receive the same level of federal funding to serve fewer students. I believe we should put the needs of our state’s students first and if that means that some students thrive in a different environment, then we should support that. I also believe the access to these funds should always be fair and accessible by all students.
In the recent legislative sessions, I have led the charge for locality pay. Last session we made great progress in these debates. Our teachers, state troopers, correction workers and all state employees deserve locality pay. Other states and the federal government structure their pay with locality bumps and I believe the state of West Virginia should too.
I have fought tirelessly to ensure we are providing financial and support services to our state’s foster children and families. In 2019, I led the charge on a bill that added additional resources for foster care services. I believe the DHHR split I mentioned above would lead to more efficiencies, attention, and effectiveness in the programs that protect our children’s health and welfare.
Jason Barrett – West Virginia Senate District 16
About West Virginia Senate District 16
In the 2022 general election, there are two candidates in Senate District 16:
Hannah Geffert (currently serving as state Senator) is the Democratic Party candidate.
Jason Barrett (currently serving as a state Delegate) is the Republican Party candidate.Staff Contributor