What would Ben do differently?
Put public safety above politics. Ben Salango wouldn't fire the state’s chief health officer in the middle of a pandemic, leaving West Virginia exposed. Unlike Justice, he would work with local communities on a coordinated response. Ben would always follow the science and never put poll numbers ahead of public health.
Take the Crisis Seriously on Day One. Jim Justice was encouraging people to eat at Bob Evans and refused to call for a statewide mask mandate long after we all knew this virus was a serious threat to West Virginia. Jim Justice is only showing up to work three days a week. This is a global pandemic that demands a full-time governor.
Federal Relief Money. Ben Salango called for Jim Justice to spend the $1.25 billion in federal CARES Act money immediately to help save small businesses, keep people working, provide HERO pay for first responders, and prepare our schools for the fall. Instead, Jim Justice has sat on the federal relief dollars and used it as a political slush fund. That money should have been spent quickly and strategically to help the people of West Virginia.
A Salango Administration Would Have Been Prepared. As governor, Ben Salango would have had a PPE stockpile for our frontline first responders. He would have prepared our state to deal with this crisis by coming up with a statewide testing plan and adding more staff to Workforce West Virginia to speed up unemployment claims. While Salango was calling for the state lab to be open 24/7 to process more tests, at the same time Governor Justice had no clue as to whether he had power to order the state lab to stay open.
Local Control. For Jim Justice this pandemic is all about getting votes to help his campaign. Early on in this pandemic, when local leaders had more control, West Virginia had the lowest rates of infection in the nation. Ben would empower local leaders to make local decisions about school re-entry and sports participation. Justice took total control and politicized the state’s COVID-19 Response.
Listen to the Experts. Jim Justice fired West Virginia’s chief medical officer in the middle of this pandemic. He’s made six changes to his color-coded system and ignored concerns from the Harvard Global Model. Justice didn’t listen to experts when it was time to put in place a mask order. Jim Justice is more interested in politics than he is with fighting
Increase Transparency. Jim Justice has manipulated the COVID-19 data for political purposes. If Ben Salango were governor, there would be greater transparency and accurate reporting so that we could better fight the spread of the coronavirus. Jim Justice refused to call in the legislature for a special session and decided he knows what’s best for local communities.
Expand Broadband. Ben Salango would have started using CARES Act funds to expand broadband access across West Virginia, which would have helped students and small businesses. Under the failed leadership of Jim Justice, West Virginia has seen the biggest drop in the nation in internet speed during COVID-19. As usual, Jim Justice was late to the game.
Support Small Businesses. While Jim Justice sat on the CARES Act money, Ben Salango would have pushed money out to save small businesses immediately. Salango would have created a small business emergency fund and implemented a micro-loan program (similar to the UKAN program) to help existing businesses reopen their doors. Salango has called for putting in place incentives for new telework jobs to move to West Virginia and for providing business coaches, free of charge, to any West Virginia businesses that need help navigating available resources.
Public Service, Not Self-Service. Justice is holding weddings and major fundraisers at The Greenbrier with thousands of out-of-state guests. Jim Justice has done everything he can to help pad his businesses' bottom lines. He’s not looking out for West Virginia; he’s only looking out for himself.
Safe Return to School. Parents, students, and educators need predictability, consistency, and structure. Jim Justice has failed to provide any of that. Justice had since March to prepare West Virginia schools for a safe reopening and he wasted all summer playing politics. You can read Ben’s full plan for safe schools here. Salango wanted to make sure every school had the resources to keep teachers, service personnel, and students safe.
HERO Pay. As County Commissioner, Ben Salango provided HERO pay for frontline workers. Jim Justice promised he would do the same but most of West Virginia’s first responders haven’t seen a dime. Ben Salango will be a governor who keeps his word.