"I can't even read the top letter on the eye chart without correction," he said.
Hardy went to work for the United Mine Workers of America, working out of the District 17 office on Kanawha Boulevard and specializing in black lung cases, labor law and advocating for coal miners. About the same time, he took and passed the test to become a CPA.
Hardy spent 12 years working for the Jackson Kelly law firm, then five working for Spilman, Thomas & Battle. He joined his current firm in February 2008.
Hardy was elected to Charleston City Council in 1994 and became chairman of council's powerful finance committee. His CPA license helped him oversee a city budget that has now grown to $90 million, twice the amount of money available to county government.
Among Hardy's first actions as finance chairman was reforming and making more accountable the city's purchasing system. He also persuading City Council to talk owners of Watt Powell Park into removing tobacco advertising from the ballpark, arguing that it sent a bad message to children.
Hardy was appointed to the Kanawha County Commission in 2001, after Commissioner Duke Bloom was elected as a Kanawha Circuit judge. Hardy has been elected to the post twice since.
Hardy has been criticized for representing Massey Energy in court. The company has been in the news recently for a fatal explosion that killed 29 miners at Massey's Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal.
Hardy counters the criticism by saying he has never had a complaint filed against him with the State Bar. Best Lawyers of America recognized Hardy this year for his experience in energy law.
"Everybody is entitled to due process, and everybody has the right to representation," Hardy said. "I've been on both sides [of the coal industry]. You'll find I have an impeccable record with the State Bar, and I have the respect of all the parties I deal with."
Hardy was also criticized for not taking a public stand on table gaming when voters were asked to approve expanded gambling at Tri-State racetrack in 2007. Some people thought he was ducking the issue to avoid offending voters.
Hardy said he voted to put table gaming on the ballot, and voted in favor of table gaming when he went to the polls. But he said he didn't want to tell other people how they should vote.
"It's like a pro-life, pro-choice vote," he said. "It's a very personal decision. I'm not going to tell a churchgoer who has very strong feelings about gambling how to vote."
Hardy believes public safety, infrastructure and economic development are the most important things for Kanawha County. He believes his track record shows that he's done a good job with all three.
"It's easy just to throw out abstract ideas," he said. Hardy, who sits on the Charleston Area Alliance, said he and other county officials have a plan for the county's growth and economic health.
"It's a targeted plan," he said.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.