Elliott “Spike” Maynard, Republican candidate for the U.S. House in the 3rd District, answered six questions posed to him by members of The Register-Herald editorial board earlier this week.
What opportunities do you see for diversifying the economy of West Virginia?
“We can create jobs in West Virginia in the field of tourism. In West Virginia, we have long missed the boat and not really heavily developed tourism. Our tourism people have done a pretty good job, but we need them to do a spectacular job. We are seeing it come in West Virginia finally, but we’ve missed a couple big bets, like the Hatfield-McCoy feud. The feud happened in southern West Virginia. It’s famous worldwide and we should have a huge tourism project based on the Hatfield-McCoy feud. We should have a museum. We should have, every year at the amphitheater near here, Hatfield-McCoy and nothing else. We ought to have a guided tour of the famous places where feud events occurred. That’s one we haven’t developed.
“We are doing a pretty good job with the skiing industry. Skiing is really taking off in West Virginia. We’ve done a great job with whitewater rafting. It’s been really great for West Virginia. The tourism people have done a spectacular job of promoting it.
“The biggest success we’ve had is the (Hatfield-McCoy ATV) Trail System. I see it in Williamson on the weekends, it is huge. You walk down the street in Williamson or Matewan on the weekend and half the cars you see will be from out of state. Actually they will be pickup trucks, with trailers with ATVs on them. I have a friend who runs a bed and breakfast in Matewan, he’s booked six nights a week the entire year. It’s really brought a lot of money. I frankly think the trail system will be our largest tourist attraction and will produce more money in tourism than anything else. That’s how big I think it is and will be.
“We need to quit spending money on some things, but we need to spend money on tourism.
“This is the one time where we stand the chance to surpass the Eastern Panhandle. If we do it smart, and we can do it smart, it doesn’t take that much money. We just need to advertise a little bit. The more diversified the economy is, the better it is for everybody. Tourism means jobs and they’re fast jobs. You don’t need to build a big plant to create tourism jobs.
“To have tourism, you have to have infrastructure too. We really have to focus on building roads. We need to build the King Coal Highway. We need to build the Coalfields Expressway. We need to build any four-lane highway we can build. When you build a four-lane highway, you bring people in here who will spend money, lots of money. When people are touring, they spend two or three hundred dollars a day. That’s big money.
“That’s where we should be spending our money, not on creating government jobs in Washington, D.C., or jobs in China, which this administration really has done. My opponent says ‘no,’ but it’s the truth. They created 6,000 jobs in China making windmills and it is an outrage and a disgrace. Those jobs could have been in Beckley, West Virginia, and they should be in Beckley, West Virginia. They’re in China.”