Kanawha commissoner launches run for governor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango is the latest person to enter the West Virginia governor’s race for 2020.

Salango launched his Democratic campaign on Thursday outside the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center in Charleston. He spoke beforehand on MetroNews ‘Talkline’ and said he is the right person for the job.

“What we need is a governor who can lead West Virginia to the 21st century, someone who can create a 21st-century economy that works everyone and pays a wage that folks can live on,” Salango said.

“The only chance we have of getting there is if we have a governor who shows up for work. I will show up for work and that is why I am entering the race today (Thursday).”

Ben Salango

Salango, who was appointed to his commissioner seat before winning election in 2018, has been critical of Gov. Jim Justice.

He outlined a few challenges he’d get to work on including the tourism and coal industries, while also setting up a more solid vocational program for middle and high schools around the state.

Salango, 46, said he will get into more details about his campaign in the coming days.

The Democratic race for governor now features community organizer Stephen Smith and Boone County Senator Ron Stollings. Salango also works as a trial lawyer for Preston & Salango, PLLC and is a husband and father.

“I’m in this for the right reasons,” Salango said. “I don’t think being new to politics is a black eye on this campaign, I think it’s refreshing. To have someone who is relatively new, who understands government enough to where they can actually do a job. I am not so concerned with what folks have to say.

“We are going to get out there and show people what we have to offer. We’re going to spread our message and hopefully they will agree that I am the right person for the job.”

He said he plans to hit the campaign trail full-time to “make sure I prevail.”