WVEA Letter to Members

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February 2016

Dear Colleague,

Over the weekend, WVEA-PAC endorsed Jim Justice for Governor. I wanted to send you this brief note to explain the endorsement process for the primary election and to tell you why Jim Justice stood out to the members of the PAC committee.

First let me remind you that no dues dollars go toward political action. Only money that is designated for PAC may be used for political action purposes. As per the WVEA-PAC bylaws, before a candidate can be considered for endorsement they must complete and return the WVEA-PAC questionnaire.

Three of the gubernatorial candidates (Kessler, Goodwin and Justice) sought our endorsement. Each of them completed questionnaires and were interviewed by the WVEA-PAC Steering Committee. The 12-member PAC Steering Committee is comprised of WVEA-PAC members elected from across the state. Each of the interviews lasted approximately 1 ½ hours.

While each of the candidates made some very good points and care deeply about our state, it was clear to the committee members that Justice had a clear vision and direction for our state. He understands that we cannot continue to do less with more and that politics needs to be removed from education.

Justice stated that we must address salaries and retirement and educators cannot continue to bear the burden of more PEIA benefit cuts, all of which are tied to attracting highly qualified teachers to West Virginia.

Justice also stated during the interview and on the questionnaire that:

  • He is opposed to Charter Schools.

  • There is too much emphasis on testing and teaching to the test.

  • The school calendar must be flexible and minutes should count toward the instructional year.

  • Education standards for our students should be left up to educators to develop not be developed and dictated by politicians.

  • He will appoint individuals with an education background to the State Board.

  • He will repeal Right to Work and reinstate the prevailing wage.

  • He believes in the Democratic Party principles and supports working men and women.

Additionally, Justice will be a formidable candidate in the fall and will be able to withstand the onslaught of out-of-state money and advertisements coming into our state on behalf of the Republican candidate. 

After the interviews, the members of the PAC Steering Committee discussed each of the candidates and overwhelmingly chose to recommend Jim Justice’s name to the full WVEA-PAC.

WVEA-PAC is comprised of each of the local association PAC chairs. Upon hearing the rationale behind the endorsement and an exchange of Q & A from PAC chairs, WVEA-PAC chose to endorse Jim Justice for Governor.

Our endorsement process is very democratic. PAC Steering Committee members may have come into the interviews personally favoring other candidates. However, as the process unfolded and each of the candidates expressed their views and responded to questions; it became clear to all that Jim Justice stood out from the others.

The problems that we currently have with the Legislature is a direct result of the citizens of our state voting against their own self-interest based on out-of-state interests running campaigns designed to scare people and voting for friends and promises over ideology. We cannot let that happen again in this election.

We must work to garner a primary victory for Jim Justice in May and then commit ourselves to securing a victory in the general election in November. We will be communicating to you various activities the Justice campaign will be having in your area and advising you of ways you can help in the campaign.

At the bottom of this page you will find a copy of the press release that we have sent out to the media regarding our gubernatorial endorsement.

Dale Lee
WVEA President

WVEA-PAC endorses Justice for Governor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The WVEA Political Action Committee has endorsed Jim Justice for Governor of West Virginia in the May primary.

“Jim Justice expressed a vision for our state and an assurance that West Virginia’s education professionals would help shape public education for the future,” WVEA-PAC Chairman Dale Lee said.

Justice, a businessman, said he understands the need to get the politics out of the classroom, and he trusts our teachers. He promises to surround himself with experts, including West Virginia teachers, to advise him on standardized testing, the school calendar, K-12 standards and other key policy matters.

During an interview with the WVEA-PAC Steering Committee, Justice recognized that West Virginia needs revenue growth and we can’t cut our way to prosperity.

Justice expressed innovative ideas about how we can best utilize our energy-producing resources like coal and natural gas, but he also recognized the need to diversify our state’s economy. Education must be the centerpiece of our economic approach, he said.

Justice said we must address salaries and retirement to make them competitive with our surrounding states. Additionally, educators cannot continue to bear the burden of more PEIA benefit cuts. These are all tied to attracting highly qualified teachers to West Virginia.

We also believe Justice would be a formidable opponent in the 2016 general election.

WVEA-PAC’s Steering Committee interviewed all three gubernatorial candidates who completed a WVEA-PAC questionnaire. To receive an interview, candidates must complete a questionnaire. They were: Justice, Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, and former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.

“Each of these candidates made strong points and they care deeply about the future of our state,” Lee said. “They clearly have the interest of West Virginia’s working families at heart.”

West Virginia is at a crossroads after two disastrous legislative sessions that will hurt working families, drive down wages, benefits and pensions and make the state a less attractive place to raise a family.

This election is very important for West Virginia’s future. We cannot afford to let the Koch brothers, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and similar right-wing interests buy the 2016 election and continue this horrible direction for our state.

WVEA-PAC is the independent, political arm of the WVEA, the state’s largest education employee organization. WVEA represents over 13,000 teachers, service professionals, college students preparing to become teachers and retirees.

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