Civic Activity

Candidate Training Academy Encourages More Citizens to Run for West Virginia’s Positions of Power

Brian Wilson, newly elected City of Wheeling Councilman and graduate of the West Virginia Candidate Training Academy. Photo by Steve Novotney/Weelunk.

Brian Wilson, newly elected City of Wheeling Councilman and graduate of the West Virginia Candidate Training Academy. Photo by Steve Novotney/Weelunk.

Of the 108 participants in the 2015 West Virginia Candidate Training Academy, 35 ran for elected office, and 11 were successful in their campaigns.

In early 2015, the Our Children, Our Future campaign set itself a firm goal: train 35 West Virginians to run for elected office.

A year later they had trained 108 people in four cities across the state through their West Virginia Candidate Training Academy.

Of the 108 people trained in 2015:

  • 35 of them ran for elected office in 2016.
  • 11 candidates were successful in their bids for elected office.
  • 21 of the 35 were successful in the primary campaigns and contested the general election.

The Candidate Training Academy was designed to make the political process more accessible to everyday West Virginians.

Its goal is compel those who wouldn’t typically run for office to explore the option, and to provide them with the practical, nuts and bolts information that one needs to run a successful campaign.

The workshops were stringently nonpartisan; no political party, ideology, or platform was promoted. Participants focused solely on learning how to run a full-scale campaign for public office, or to work on one in another capacity.

Candidate Training Academy “graduates” ran for, or supported campaigns for, a wide variety of elected offices, including city councils, state senate and house of delegates, judicial appointments and county commissions.

 

Candidate Training Academy a response to imbalance in elected office.

Women comprise 51 percent of the state’s population, yet they account for a mere 12.6 percent of the 2017 West Virginia State Legislature. This imbalance actually worsened from 2014, when women accounted for 15 percent of the legislature.

This year, 14 women were elected to the House of Delegates, which equates to 14 percent of the 100 member chamber. Three women were elected to the West Virginia Senate and now account for 8.8 percent of the 34 member upper chamber.

Women comprise 51 percent of the state’s population, yet they account for a mere 12.6 percent of the 2017 West Virginia State Legislature.

People aged 18 to 34 account for approximately 20 percent of West Virginia’s total population but comprise less than 12 percent of the 2017 legislature. In the November 8 General Election, 16 lawmakers under 34 were elected, which more than doubled representation of this age group in the West Virginia Statehouse. In 2014, lawmakers under 34 accounted for less than 5 percent of the legislature.

In 2014, less than 3 percent of the legislature was comprised of people of color; however, people of color account for 6 percent of West Virginia’s population.

More than half – 52 percent – of West Virginia’s population is comprised of low-income workers, yet this population accounted for less than 5 percent of the 2014 Legislature.

Who To Talk To: 

Our Children Our Future
Email: Executive Director Steven Smith at stephen@ourfuturewv.org

 

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