Q&A with Jarryd Powell from WV District 50
CREDIT/WV Can't Wait

Jarryd Powell is running in WV District 50, and the interview was conducted on 1/21/2020. He can by found at @jerrydpowell on Twitter, and his website is jarrydpowell.com. The primary in his district is May 12th, 2020. If you want to directly support his campaign, click here for his ActBlue page.

The district you’re running is most of Marion County including Fairmont, what are some issues that are facing your district?

The issues which are relevant to the people sometimes don’t correlate well to the governing bodies in Charleston. While we have some amazing members in my district who are representing us well, the government as a whole is not speaking on behalf of the people of West Virginia, so the issues of the working families of our great state are facing are not the same issues the Government is working to address. Like the issues regarding to public education, and building an economy that is lasting and not destructive to our environment which will allow for our kids to stay in our state and find work. We need to develop our infrastructure and repair our roads, and we need to generally work to get the voices of the people enfranchised.

What are your thoughts on WV’s Narcotics Unit being used to bust people who are trying to buy opioids in the state as proposed by Jim Justice?

Definitely an interesting proposal, I have to do more research to figure out if that’s the correct way to do it. I think that what we’re all too often doing is blaming those who are struggling and that are currently in pain for the problems that our state is facing, instead of Big Pharma which is dumping these pills into our state and got a generation of West Virginians addicted and then destroyed their lives, so what this executive order is to me would be doing is putting a band-aid over a gunshot wound. rather than pursuing and actually trying to find ways to litigate against the big corporations which have harmed the people of our state, we’re doing our best to cause further pain to the people that are already hurting.

You’re a part of West Virginia Can’t Wait movement, lead by Stephen Smith, which is a pledge to swear off corporate PAC money. Why is this important to you?

It’s important to me because I feel like whenever a candidate takes corporate cash, there can be a perception that their views are being influenced by the money. It becomes more of a concern of fundraising rather than actually legislating and working towards the goals the people of the district want to pressure. So my concern of swearing off corporate PACs regards that I want to be the voice of the people, not a voice for the wealthy and elite. I don’t think the size of your pocketbook should determine the impact that you can have and making a difference in your state. This is one of the reasons why I’m glad that I’m a part of the pledge, and support the plan. I also think that there needs to be a $100 cap for election donations per individual and then work to actually publicly fund elections so that way those people who are disenfranchised because they have been unable to buy politicians since they don’t have money as a working family. People need their voices heard in their representation.

West Virginia still allows workplace discrimination based on sexuality. Would you support a bill that makes illegal like the Fairness act?

Absolutely; I am in favor of the fairness act. If I’m elected, I would do anything to ensure that West Virginians are not discriminated against by factors which they cannot change.

Do you support Medicare for All?

[Referring to Medicare for all at a national level] Well, I’m not so sure about it, I would have to do more research. I do believe that medicare for all may not be the correct option. That’s not saying that I’m not trying to advocate for the big Pharmaceutical companies. I believe what they have done is destroyed the systems entirely. There needs to be a public option, and moreover we need to actually come together as a state and find ways to go after those who are jacking these prices to critical levels. Just the other day [Interview conducted 1/21/2020], I had the honor of attending a press with kids where the youngest was 13, and the other was 15 who shared their stories about rationing insulin, which is a life-saving medication that they need. Whenever we allow that to happen in our state there is something fundamentally wrong. So while I’m not sure of the correct ways to go about doing it, I believe the very first step that we could take in addressing the drug prices which are out of control and then making it so insurance and co-pays are more in line and if that involves a government option, or medicare for all so be it, but I’d like to get some more input from the people about what would be the best options to ensure that they don’t have to money whenever they’re facing death.

You go to West Virginia University, what will you do to make college more affordable for West Virginians and people in your district?

What I believe we need to do is increase the level of scholarship funding. When it was first created that was nearly a full ride for individuals who meet those requirements, and what I believe we need to do inflation that has been increasing over time. We also need to work to ensure that we give more scholarships are in line with what it used to be like whenever the fund was originally created. Moreover, I’d look for ways to make the actual cost of tuition go down, whether that be through increased funding through the state to the actual Universities themselves or addressing other issues that come along with that.

West Virginia became the 29th State to legalize medical marijuana use in 2017. Would you support a bill to expand this to recreational use, making West Virginia the 12th state to legalize recreational marijuana for all adults? Also, would you consider pardoning everyone who was convicted of nonviolent drug crimes relating to marijuana?

Yes to all of the above. Legalization is fundamental to addressing multiple issues. What we’ll do on the first hand is by turning to marijuana, we will help fight the opioid crisis. Moreover, the tax revenues generated by it will help us face the deficit that our state seems to be facing on the horizon. Additionally, the continued punishment for people that have committed no crimes by smoking a plant, a natural plant in the privacy of their own homes or even if you want to go with the distribution of marijuana, no one was hurt by their actions and to continue to punish them for it is absolutely asinine and ridiculous so I would call for an immediate pardoning of all those that have been convicted on marijuana-related drug crimes.

You are 18 years old and do you think this will help or hinder you in the election and what are some issues affecting your generation?

Being 18, it definitely presents an interesting dynamic, regardless of how it impacts me in the election, it’s definitely having a positive impact on the other youth of the state. Even though I don’t believe I deserve the honor, I’ve been told by so many fellow young people in our state that I’m an inspiration to them. Despite the stresses of running a campaign and trying to become the next representative of my district, I have found that the most rewarding thing is to inspire someone else to follow their passions and to advocate and fight for what they believe in, and to speak their truth to power, because in my humble opinion at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what happens for me personally in the election, I’ve done some good for the state by influencing other young people to pursue their passions and to hopefully see that West Virginia can truly become their home among the hills. 

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