WEIRTON — A current lawmaker and a former lawmaker are facing each other for the seat representing the realigned Second District in the West Virginia House of Delegates.
Republican incumbent Mark Zatezalo and Democrat Ronnie Jones, both from Weirton, are vying for the seat, which will represent the western portions of Weirton, with territory heading south into Brooke County, winding around Follansbee and Wellsburg and on the North side of Washington Pike ends.
Early voting ends on Saturday, with the election on Tuesday.
Zatezalo, who currently holds one of two seats as the First District Representative, has 37 years of experience in the hydrogeological and geotechnical survey of various industrial activities, including the design and supervision of waste management facilities, coal and uranium mining, and environmental impact assessments of industrial facilities .
Zatezalo believes that the legislature plays an important role in the state’s economic development and refers to the bills that have been passed “who bring common sense to economic development”, such as recently announced investment plans for a former titanium facility in Ravenswood, W.Va.
“In the past I have sponsored legislation that would allow several companies that settle in the state to have reasonable dismissal criteria. Legislation that seeks sensible solutions to spur development while recognizing our need to take care of the environment and other social issues can be very effective in reviving vast brownfield sites.” he said.
Zatezalo also points to the need for infrastructure investment and says his first priority will be the proposed industrial road through Frontier Group’s property in Weirton.
“I believe this is the first step in Weirton’s redevelopment that needs to be taken and as far as I know much of the funding for the road has already been secured there is no reason to delay the project any longer.” Dressed said. “I will be pushing for the infrastructure needs that will be brought to my attention by voters as the need arises and it is evident that roads will be a top priority.”
He says he also plans to bet “constant pressure” for the paving of Cove Road in Weirton.
Zatezalo currently serves the Route 2/I-68 Authority, which he said will give him more access to the State Division of Highways.
He said that three major goals, if elected, would include developing the state’s energy resources for the maximum benefit of the state and residents, envisioning a plan to improve the state’s roads, and finding ways to benefit the state’s people through economic development raise.
“The next two years will be a time when the state must compete for the jobs that our energy surplus makes possible,” he said. “There will be intense competition for those opportunities and we all need to be in the game to bring those potential developments home. We can do that, but it will take work.
We also need to look for solutions to ensure we have the workforce to enable us to compete successfully. Given the need for a stable, ready workforce, we must unite to develop strategies that will enable our education system to empower young West Virginians to thrive.”
Jones retired from the Weirton Water Department at the age of 40. He previously served four years in the House of Representatives and eight years as a councilor for Weirton and is currently Chair of the Weirton Area Water Board, serves on the Weirton Park Board and was recently appointed to the Hancock County Health Board.
He said the state can keep West Virginia and the northern Panhandle business-friendly “Keep taxes down, keep improving our infrastructure, and market the Northern Panhandle as the state of West Virginia.”
“The City of Weirton has already begun expanding water and sewage facilities to accommodate more business development,” Jones remarked. “As a legislature, I would encourage other municipalities, PSDs in my district, to explore the possibility of expanding within their systems. I would work with them to help with funding through grants or government support.”
Jones said West Virginia needs to find ways to encourage younger residents to stay while still welcoming new residents.
“I believe economic growth, not just oil and gas, is key,” he said.
He said one of his top priorities, if elected, is to address the condition of Cove Road between Main Street and Harmon Creek Road.
“Repair and maintenance are a matter for the state” said Jones. “It has had to be repaved for at least the last three years. Our local delegate has not made this a priority. If I get elected, I will!”
He also wants to offer teachers better wages and says they need to work to give students the best education with the facilities and tools provided to them and focus on that “Good jobs and wages” to reflect the hard work of West Virginians.
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