By Nicole Lemal
Times West Virginian
Regardless of his last name, Joe Manchin IV said he doesn’t feel entitled to anything. Not even the open county commission seat, for which he has considered vying for more than a decade.
Watching his father, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III, working in West Virginia as governor and then moving to Washington, D.C., he always admired him. But he doesn’t want to rely on that reputation. Instead, he wants to forge his own path.
“I am out there trying to earn your trust, to have your support and ultimately have your vote,” the Democrat candidate said. “Regardless of what someone’s last name may be, their perception of you, when you get elected, that all stops right there because it’s now on you. You’re creating your own record from the first minute that you take office, and that’s something I’m really looking forward to.”
A 1996 graduate of Fairmont State, he is originally from the Farmington area and is proud to call Marion County home.
From a young age, he got a taste as to what it was like in his father’s shoes as he assisted his father in his business. Behind the scenes he learned about every aspect of the company, later becoming the president of Energy Systems.
In his position he has learned how to balance a budget and set priorities, which are two key components to establishing a strong foundation for any business or area, he said. Hard-earned tax dollars are something he doesn’t take for granted, as he wants to show the county that he will be responsible in assuring that money is put to good use.
“I think that’s imperative to have someone with a private sector knowledge in a private sector atmosphere because you’re dealing with the county tax dollars,” he said. “You’re responsible for seeing all the residents are given an opportunity and give them the proper resources to lift this area up.”
While looking around the area, he acknowledges that a change is needed somewhere. If elected to the county commission seat, he wants to treat it like a full-time job, making it a priority to be at the office every day.
“I know constituents have concerns every day and I just want to make sure there is a face they can talk to if they have a problem. There’s nothing too small or big. I just want them to know that there is someone there to listen to them and facilitate and try to help.”
Not only does he want to work with the commissioners, the county and the public, but Manchin said a strong working relationship with surrounding counties is essential for growth. Job security is a concern for many local citizens, but in the energy industry, he said there are unlimited possibilities and opportunities.
Ideally, he hopes the energy industry and education sector can work together in bridging the gap in determining where the current workforce is falling short.
“It would alleviate a lot of the problems that come with job security and not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from,” he said.
And he said Marion County has more to offer.
Right now, Marion County is one of the healthiest counties in the state financially, he said. By working together, he envisions an environment where the county residents are happy. Tourism is booming, and ultimately he envisions the county will realize their greatest resources are right in their backyard.
His campaign slogan, “Marion County’s best days are ahead,” reflect his optimism in making it a reality, as he aims to take care of county residents. Who receives the credit is irrelevant as long as the county is where it deserves to be.
“I just want to see our county in its rightful place because we’re sitting in the middle of everything as far as West Virginia has to offer,” he said. “I really want to take care of what we have right now. If we can help them out and give them a positive environment to work, live and play, it’s conducive to showing other people, ‘Hey, Fairmont is a nice place.’”
Email Nicole Lemal at firstname.lastname@example.org.