BUCKHANNON - The keynote speaker at the Upshur County Lincoln Day Dinner Saturday said he is confident the republican party could finally take the majority vote in the House of Delegates with this year's election.
West Virginia House of Delegates Minority Del. Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, said more voters are taking the party seriously.
"It is an exciting time," he said. "I know we say every year is an exciting year for Republicans ... but I don't think it's ever been as true as it is this year."
Armstead said there were about 21 republicans on the House of Delegates when he first became a member. Now, the House of Delegates has 47 Republicans, just a few shy of half of the House of Delegates representatives, he said.
"It's the most that we've ever had since the 1930s when we lost the majority," Armstead said.
Upshur County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Patty Adams said Republicans have been in the minority since after 1932. He said that his fellow republican delegates are prepared to take the majority.
"We are at a historic time in our state," Armstead said. "We have the true potential to be in the majority."
Del. Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur, said that if Republicans take the majority in this year's election, Armstead would become the next speaker for the House of
Armstead said he believes that a republican majority is better for West Virginia. He said that he believes there are common sense solutions that could be enacted upon. He said the state doesn't have a blueprint for moving forward.
"We have had the Democrats doing whatever they want to do, with no real plan, no real vision for where West Virginia needs to be," Armstead said. "We have a vision as Republicans."
He said that a foundation of good and ethical development built on fair elections is the plan.
"We need to make sure the people of West Virginia know what the record is of 80 years under democratic control," Armstead said.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said that he was poised for a terrific year and believes there's an opportunity to transform West Virginia this year.
"We are right at the brink, and this year, we are going to push it over the edge," Morrisey said. "At the Attorney General's office, we're trying to do our best to transform the state of West Virginia."
Morrisey said that if republicans control the House of Delegates, and voters elect Republicans into other offices, 2014 will be a transformational year.
"I'm going to keep fighting for you," Morrisey said, also adding that he wants to ensure that the state reaches its economic potential.
Republican candidates for partisan and non-partisan offices alike also had an opportunity to speak and introduce themselves to the audience.
Upshur County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Steve Foster, a first-time candidate running for the 11th Senatorial District, said that when he came back to West Virginia and got into economic development it was because he "finally found something slower than government."
"Ten years, I've worked for you here in Upshur County," Foster said. "We've had a lot of neat things happen in those 10 years, but in all my dealings with travel and what-not, I decided it was finally time to get off the sidelines and move the ball."
Republican candidate Robert L. Karnes said that he is running for the 11th Senatorial District, "because of the mess our state is in."
"By whatever name you give it, we've essentially lived in a 65-year recession here in West Virginia," Karnes said. "When your job base is constantly shrinking, when your tax base is constantly shrinking ... it doesn't have to be that way."
Upshur County Prosecuting Attorney Jake Reger, running for circuit court judge, said he's worked hard to prosecute drug cases with 160 felony drug convictions within 10 years, has secured grant funding, and has worked with juvenile delinquency, crime and truancy issues.
"My integrity, my hard work, my common sense, would all help me to become a good judge," Reger said, later adding, "(Abraham) Lincoln said it right: A government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from this earth. The justice system, in my opinion, is an important part. If we don't have a good justice system, our democracy would fail. I will work hard for you. I appreciate your support in the past."
Upshur County Commission candidate Lida Kevin Hawkins said he believes he has the resume for the job and would appreciate his support in the election.
"I spent 17 years in the mining industry, mostly in higher management," Hawkins said. "In the mid 90s, (I was in the) construction industry with three or four different companies ... I decided I'd take some of my qualifications and use them for my county."
Upshur County Commission candidate Terry Cutright also spoke to those in attendance.
"The office of commissioner is something I've been wanting to do for a long time and have talked about several times," Cutright said. "During my 28 years as a business owner in Upshur County, I developed an appreciation and respect for the people of Upshur County. Since I've retired, I feel I have the time to carry out the duties necessary as an Upshur County Commissioner."
Buckhannon City Council candidate Robyn Simons said she comes from a family with a long line of Republicans.
"I'm going to tell you today, if you vote for me, you always have a friend in City Hall," Simons said. "So remember that, and then come election vote for me, Robyn Simons."
Upshur County Board of Education candidate Patrick Martin, said he was only 15-years-old when he started his own vending machine company.
He said he sold out last year with over 150 locations. He then started renting out residential homes and now has 19.
"The reason I'm telling you this is because I worked very hard to get where I'm at today," Martin said.
"I promise, if I'm elected to the board of education, I'll work hard for you too."
Upshur County Board of Education candidate Robbie Martin said that, although the BOE is a non-partisan office, he would like to bring to the board his conservative values if elected.
"I'm running for this election to, hopefully, bring conservative to the Upshur County School system that I know we definitely need, I believe," Robbie Martin said. "Maybe stop some wasteful spending, and hopefully we can spend the money to help improve our school system."