Are you working class? A woman? A person of color? Under the age of 34?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, your state and local elected officials do not proportionately represent you.
Women, who account for 51 percent of West Virginia’s total population, comprise a mere 13.4 percent of the 2017 West Virginia State Legislature.
West Virginians ages 18 to 34 comprise 20 percent of the Mountain State’s population. Prior to the 2016 election, this demographic held less than 5 percent of seats in the statehouse. Today, 18 to 34 year olds hold 16 seats in the state legislative body, or almost 12 percent, a significant increase but still not adequately representative.
In 2014, less than 3 percent of the legislature was comprised of people of color; however, people of color account for 6 percent of West Virginia’s population.
And more than half – 52 percent – of West Virginia’s population is comprised of low-income workers, yet this population accounted for less than 5 percent of the 2014 Legislature.
At the same time as older white males dominate elected in office in West Virginia, many of the seats they occupy are uncontested in elections. Data gathered by StateofOurCommunities.org, a research project of The Hub, shows that 29 percent of city council seats in West Virginia’s 10 largest cities were won in uncontested races in the latest cycle of local elections between 2014 and 2016.
With the recognition that running for office can be intimidating for many people, a group of savvy West Virginians got together and created the West Virginia Candidate Training Academy a few years ago with a mission of training people to get more engaged in the political process, running local campaigns, and vying for elected office.
The Candidate Training Academy aims to compel those who wouldn’t traditionally run for elected office to explore the option. Their trainings covers real, practical information that people need to run a successful campaign. Over the course of eight hours, participants will learn how to craft stump speeches, the costs associated with running a campaign, communication methods, fundraising strategies, and more.
You don’t have to be a seasoned politico to run for office and win in West Virginia.
Of the 108 folks that took part in the Candidate Training Academy in 2015, 35 ran for elected office in 2016, and 11 were successful in their bids for elected office.
The Candidate Training Academy is strictly nonpartisan; no political party, ideology, or platform will be promoted. The 2017 Academy will make its debut this Saturday in Morgantown with a candidate training by and for women! Interested? Register here!
Register for Morgantown April 29 (By and For Women)
Register for Charleston May 16 (All are Welcome)
Register for Beckley June 10 (By and For Women)
Register for Southern WV July 15 (All are Welcome)
Register for Martinsburg August 5 (All are Welcome)