CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Michael Ari Pushkin is one of a very few candidates who could rock the house at one of his own campaign fundraisers.
In fact, you're likely to hear him do just that.
"I plan on playing at all of them," Pushkin said.
Pushkin, who has helmed popular West Virginia bands from the Joint Chiefs to 600 LBS of Sin!, recently filed pre-candidacy papers to run for the W.Va. House of Delegates in the 37th District. Its current holder, Meshea Poore, has announced she will vie for the Congressional seat now held by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who herself has eyes on Sen. Jay Rockefeller's Senate seat upon his retirement.
Pushkin feels he is well suited to represent the 37th District, which covers Charleston's downtown, East End and West Side.
"I feel I know the district very well. I work with the people every day in the district. I've lived in this district a long time, my family has lived in this district a lot longer than that."
When not playing music, Pushkin drives a cab at night as he has done so for a decade. "It's a perfect job for a musician. We're independent contractors and get to make our own hours."
He has gotten to know the concerns of his customers, he said. "Most of the people we pick up live in the West Side or the East End or North Charleston -- that's this district. They use us to get to work, to get to the store. Those are the people I work with every day."
He realizes his is an unusual resume for public office.
"First of all, I'm obviously not a conventional candidate. And I don't see this as a career move or stepping stone to something else. I'm not looking to pad my resume. I just want to be the type of representative that is accessible to the people who put him there. And in any decision on any issue to have the best interests of the people in the district at heart.
"Obviously, we need jobs around here," he added. "Some of the best ways to create jobs is to promote small locally owned businesses. Create a better environment for small locally owned businesses to flourish, giving tax breaks. At least making it easier for them to get started.
"People like at the Bluegrass Kitchen over on the East End or the Five Corners Café are doing a good job of pulling people locally. The money stays here. They live in the neighborhood that they own their business in."