CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia has come a long way since I was first elected to the West Virginia Legislature in 2002. This body has continuously produced a balanced budget, lowered taxes on businesses and individuals, passed appropriate laws and rules regarding education and health care, and we've helped West Virginia adapt to 21st century technology. Perhaps most importantly, we've done this while paying down billions in debt and lowering taxes.
When I made the decision not to run for re-election to the state Senate, I did so carefully. I knew that a new person would step into this seat and be faced with decisions that affect the lives of almost two million people for generations to come. This position is serious business, and that is why I am endorsing Josh Martin's candidacy.
It is extremely important to support a candidate that understands the needs of lower and middle income West Virginians, while knowing that we cannot survive without the success of small businesses. Josh gets this. And, if you know him, you know he will fight for what he believes is the right thing to do.
I had hoped that this campaign would be one of ideas. But instead of a discussion of the major issues of the coming years (jobs, health care, roads, education, and crime), the narrative of the last few weeks has unfortunately been dominated by media analysis of unrelated nebulous personal events from more than a decade ago.
Josh's father Dale served in the House of Delegates until his untimely passing last year. Josh learned early on to put others before self. He is a father, husband and community leader. His level of educational attainment will assist him greatly in the West Virginia Senate.
In addition to his personal and professional background, Josh simply understands the issues. He gets the fact that the state and its municipalities must work together in dealing with police and firefighter pensions. He knows that those without health insurance run the risk of financial ruin if they should experience an unexpected medical emergency. He understands the need for fiscal responsibility in state government so that unnecessary interest payments do not eat away at valuable services that taxpayers expect. And he believes deeply that being in the state Senate is more than just keeping an eye on the idle throttle -- it's about fighting for big ideas that move a state forward.
I have had the pleasure of serving with a number of capable and astute individuals in the legislature that have worked hard to keep our unemployment rate below the national average, to keep workers' compensation premiums low, and to avoid laying off teachers and state employees. Josh Martin is that type of dedicated individual and he knows these critical issues well. I'm confident he will make decisions that will make Kanawha County citizens proud.
In some ways, I believe we've come to a crossroads when it comes to elections. We sometimes seem to be looking at candidates only to see if they agree with our philosophical views on only one or two issues. I would respectfully suggest that when it comes to the West Virginia Senate, our focus should be much larger. We need to elect candidates that are knowledgeable about what is facing West Virginia, grasp the value of hard work, and place the needs of our citizens above their personal ambition or political ideology. I will cast my vote for Josh Martin in this November's election, and I ask that you do the same.
Foster, a Charleston physician, is an outgoing state senator from Kanawha County.