Last updated: January 12. 2014 5:31AM - 2318 Views

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I have recently been informed that Logan and Mingo Counties have over 45,000 registered voters. One would think that with that many voters, we would get far more respect from elected officials at the state level.

With that many voters, I would expect those in power would spend far more time down here catering to our needs than in other areas catering to others. With over 45,000 voters, you would think that our severe need for Job Opportunities, Drug Rehabilitation, Child Poverty, Homelessness and other serious issues would be automatically addressed and corrected. Recently, we had a Child Poverty Forum held in Southern West Virginia Technical Community College that highlighted the fact that 25.8 percent of children in West Virginia live in poverty and 11.7 percent live in extreme poverty. I would be willing to wager the largest number of those living in poverty are from the 3rd Congressional District of West Virginia… unacceptable!

You would think that with over 45,000 voters, elected officials would create and bring in opportunities that would provide new High School and College graduates with jobs. You would think there would be countermeasures in place to assist laid off coal miners with the ability to seek new employment to allow them to continue taking care of their families while the current regime in Washington unfairly targets coal. Our High School graduates and laid off miners can build cars! They can work in factories. Statistics show that 1 out of every 5 students will not graduate (For McDowell County it is one out of three according to the 2010 census)! When they do, there will be very little waiting for them. The Coal Industry is not easy to land a job with right now. Uncle Sam has tightened up entrance regulations and has already started a drawdown to cut force totals. Fast Food is an option but many of those jobs are currently occupied by the elderly in this area because their American Dream was shattered when their children become hopelessly addicted to drugs and they become the sole provider for their grand children. The only thing that seems to always be available in terms of occupation in areas like Logan and Mingo (And I am sure McDowell, Lincoln, Boone, Wyoming and Wayne counties are similar) are Strip Bars, Prostitution and Dealing Drugs.

Sadly, I realize why we don’t get the respect that we deserve in our area from those who only show up during election time to try and convince us they care. Regardless of the fact that we have over 45,000 registered voters across Logan and Mingo… in any given election only around 6,000-10,000 voters will even got off of he couch and actually go and have their voices heard. That has to stop!

Ladies and Gentlemen….with over 45,000 registered voters actually voting, we can change the face of elections! But wait! What those of you who decide to stay on the couch don’t realize is, if everyone actually got off of the couch and voted, our voice would be far too loud for them to ignore. When 45,000 people vote against a person who has not followed through with his obligations, he finds himself on the unemployment line. If every single registered voter from Logan and Mingo Counties (and other counties that can relate to the words I write) actually went out and voted, it would shake the very foundation that these lifetime politicians have built their careers on. Any career politician can easily come up with a decent amount of votes by just the connections they have made and jobs they have created for their closest friends throughout their career. I speak about politics with people every single day and at any given time, the majority of them will say that they are not happy with those currently in office (that is locally and nationally). Imagine if the disgruntled citizens exercised their rights and actually voted against those they are not happy with.

If every single registered voter made it a point to go out and vote, we really could shake up every election… However, for that to happen we need qualified people to run for office. I am not saying that every politician is bad. I am saying that to keep politicians honest and hard working, they need to have an incentive to do so. If they knew that every election there would be qualified people out there running against them they would focus on making sure that they always did positive things that their constituents want. I personally think that every person running for office should have their education level, political connections, criminal records and voting records (if they are in a position to cast votes for Bills/Laws) annotated in local newspapers. Some elected officials walk around and act like they hold doctorates but in actuality, have a high school diploma.

Now there is nothing wrong with a high school diploma but if I am going to try and select the best person for the job, a person that actually holds a Doctorate, Masters and Bachelor’s Degree in lets say Criminal Justice or Law would be someone that I would automatically place on a higher level for the position of Magistrate or Judge. If a person was running for a comptroller position I would think that a degree in finance would be something that would carry weight.

Political connections need to be highlighted because I want to know who these people rub shoulders with. I will want to know in the future what dealings politicians have had with people such as the former judge in Mingo County and his cronies. In a perfect world it would be nice to know what positions of responsibility across the county are filled by relatives of each politician. In some counties, if you did a genealogy chart, you may find that a large percentage of every desk in a courthouse if filled by family members or close friends which is nothing more than nepotism. Every county job needs to be filled with qualified applicants and blood lines should not have heavy weighted criteria during the selection process.

Criminal records are important because I want to know who has been arrested for drinking and driving, beating their spouse or snagged in illegal gambling or prostitution rings etc. Lastly, I want to know voting records. Lobbyists have a way to convince politicians to vote “For” cancer! I want to know if people can be purchased by corporations. These are the people that we do not want in office.

We have many people across Southern West Virginia that really should be stepping up and running against all levels of politics. For the past year, I have been 99 percent positive I was going to throw my hat in the ring at a run for Congress and recently I asked all of those who are friends with me on facebook to reply with their thoughts. Nearly every comment was positive with only three people against (All three telling me that I don’t have the money to beat Congressman Rahall). If money is what it is all about then we definitely need a change in the system. If I have to buy votes or grease the wheels to get into a position then I am absolutely no better than those officials in the past who have been prosecuted for corruption.

The LEAD Community Organization was never established for political gain and it will never be used as such. My goal is to remain involved with LEAD and continue to support an outstanding JROTC program that in a few short years will become the model for the entire state of what an amazing JROTC program looks like.

It is after much thought, prayer and communication with my closest family and friends that I have decided to go to Charleston in the beginning of next week and place my name on the ballot to run for Congress! Why not? I am well educated with a Masters Degree, I have served my country during peace and in war in both Iraq and Afghanistan, I am not a millionaire and have a better chance at relating to the common man who puts in a 40 hour work week, and lastly, I have proven to all who know me that when work needs done, I am not scared to get dirty. I believe that I have more than proven to every citizen in Logan County that I will fight for what is needed in our area. If elected, I will just have to fight harder on a bigger scale to ensure that all 18 counties of the 3rd Congressional District of West Virginia are addressed and every citizen is thought of… and not just directly before voting season!

Sappers Clear The Way!

Airborne All The Way!

MAJ (RET) Richard Ojeda II


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