Incumbent Gov. Justice, Commissioner Salango square off in W.Va. debate
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Incumbent Gov. Jim Justice and Democratic challenger Ben Salango talked COVID-19 response, jobs, and about their personal businesses and about who they will vote for in the upcoming presidential election.
The two squared off Tuesday night in the state’s only gubernatorial debate before the election.
Governor Justice is a personal friend and supporter of President Donald Trump.
Salango, a Kanawha County commissioner who said he will vote for former Vice President Democrat Joe Biden, did praise some of the president’s accomplishments, including 12 weeks of family leave.
Salango supported a similar measure in Kanawha County. Salango, who has often criticized Justice’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said he would not order another shutdown in the wake of the pandemic.
He added that he would have put a mask mandate in place earlier than the Justice administration did.
Salango has been critical of the COVID-19 metric map that designates when students should be in school. He also says that the administration should have utilized CARES Act funds faster.
Justice defended the use of the money and said the state has received accolades for its use of the funding. The money, according to the incumbent, has been spent and/or earmarked to help small businesses, repairing medical access roads, broadband instillation /improvement, funding for counties and cities, and for hospitals, among other things.
Just last week, the Justice administration announced a Virgin Hyperloop Certification Center construction could begin in Tucker County by the middle of 2021. It is expected to create 150 to 200 full-time Virgin Hyperloop jobs. Additionally, jobs will be created through the construction process.
Salango said if the Hyperloop project comes to fruition, that Justice and the other people who worked to help make it happen deserve credit.
Justice says Salango is too inexperienced and too young for the job. Salango thanked the governor for calling him young, adding he is 47.
Justice is 68 years old.
Salango says the governor’s personal business dealings have created a distraction for the state of West Virginia and from the work of a governor.
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