Stick to the issues, not the political theatrics

Thinking of ways to attract new residents has been a major talking point in our state in recent years.

Most of the time, the topic is surrounded by discussion of economic incentives and job creation with the hope of attracting new jobs to West Virginia, and thus, people willing to move here for those jobs.

Early in this year’s legislative session, Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, introduced a resolution inviting the citizens of Frederick County, Virginia, to consider voting to join the Mountain State. It’s an idea that has its roots in the American Civil War, when we seceded from Virginia.

We can all be pretty certain the vote will never take place, but it’s still a nice history lesson for us all. West Virginia becoming a state was not cut and dry. There were years of debates and court cases before we were fully recognized.

This past week, however, Gov. Jim Justice took what should have just been a symbolic gesture a step further, holding a press conference in Martinsburg with the Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. Meeting with journalists at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College, turning it into a political issue.

There has been a major battle in Virginia over gun rights. Rallies have been held, legislation has been proposed in the Virginia General Assembly and several counties have declared themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries.

Justice essentially told Virginia’s citizens, if they were tired of the decisions by the commonwealth’s Democratic Party leaders, who were elected by the people, the people could come here instead, seceding from Virginia and becoming Mountaineers.

It’s cheap, political theatrics at a time when we need to be focusing on serious business.

Then again, cheap theatrics seems to be one of the things our governor has been good at during his term. We all remember the tray of bovine excrement served up on top of a copy of the state’s budget, after all.

It’s not just the governor, either.

Del. Gary Howell (no relation of which I know), R-Mineral, introduced his own invitation resolution in the House of Delegates, saying he has heard some other counties are considering the opportunity.

Woody Thrasher, one of Justice’s Republican primary opponents in this year’s election, also has lent his backing to the idea.

Look, having some fun is OK at the appropriate time. Even introducing a symbolic piece of legislation can be a nice gesture, but there is a lot of work to be done in Charleston and we don’t need distractions. There are still questions about the state’s budget, concerns over the tax structure and more than can have a real impact on the future of West Virginia.

Let’s focus on ideas that can last and have a permanent effect instead of using political motivation. Create jobs, make West Virginia an attractive place for companies to locate and for people to visit and live.

Politics and laws can change every few years. We need to make something that will continue for the future.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)