WELLSBURG - Small business growth and earning a livable wage are important to moving West Virginia and the nation forward, explains West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.
Tennant, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by the retiring Jay Rockefeller, made a stop at Jackie's Florist in Wellsburg Friday, meeting with residents and discussing some of her own hopes for job growth if she is elected to the office in November.
"It's not about a minimum wage," she said. "It's about a livable wage."
Tennant called herself fortunate to have been able to work her way through college, earning a minimum wage while working at a flower shop in Morgantown, but she worries many of today's workers don't have such an opportunity.
Those who are able to have a full-time, minimum wage job earn only about $15,000 a year, she said. She added women make up two-thirds of the minimum wage workers in West Virginia.
"I know what it's like to work a minimum wage job," Tennant said. "I know what it's like to run a small business."
Tennant is facing Republican Shelley Moore Capito, currently representing the Second District of West Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Capito, she noted, voted eight times against increasing the federal minimum wage, and twice to provide bonuses to Wall Street officials.
Tennant believes raising the federal minimum wage needs to be phased in to make certain it is beneficial for both the employees and the employers, maximizing worker pay and job creation.
"I intend to be in the forefront as a U.S. senator," Tennant said. "We need someone to be a champion for working class West Virginians."
Tennant said small businesses make up 96 percent of West Virginia's economy, and, as Secretary of State, she has worked to streamline services to assist businesses.
Jackie's Florist owner Della Serevicz thanked Tennant for visiting the store on Commerce Street. As a sole proprietor, Serevicz said she often works at her shop seven days a week, and relies on family and friends to assist her.
"She represents small business, she represents West Virginia and she represents the working people," Serevicz said.