Kent Leonhardt statement on qualifications
Marlinton, W.Va. – Allegheny Mountain Radio invited candidates for West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture to provide a statement on their qualifications for the office. Here is republican candidate Kent Leonhardt’s statement.
“I’m running for Commissioner of Agriculture because I see a need for the people of West Virginia in the Department of Agriculture, with the retirement of Commissioner Douglas, who’s been in there for so many years. The Department of Agriculture is charged with protecting the health of West Virginia citizens, its plants and its animals. It’s also charged with maintaining and preparing for agricultural disasters and emergencies and other civil disturbances that may arise. Then, also, it is charged with promoting agriculture and agricultural products. So, with those three things, I’d like to give you my qualifications for the office.
“Number one – I am a farmer and the people of West Virginia want a real farmer in this office. That’s part of the requirements. That’s coming through loud and clear everywhere I go. You can’t be in charge of food safety if you haven’t been in that food production chain, somewhere along the line. That’s number one.
“Number two is – I’m a retired Marine lieutenant colonel. I led a 68-man special intelligence team during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. When you think about the disaster preparedness and the derechos we had last summer, where a lot of West Virginians were going hungry. That was like a military operation. I commend Commissioner Douglas for his setting up a homeland security division. We were lucky here in West Virginia. We were able to draw from military rations that the U.S. government donated to the state. And we were also draw from Virginia and Ohio and Kentucky.
“My concern is what happens if the next disaster is larger. We need to know where our supplies are coming from. We need to know where our drop-off points are. We need to know where we can get extra fuel to get the supplies to the people. That’s part of the charge of the Department of Agriculture. It’s like a military plan. We will make those preparations. We will put that plan on the shelf. And God hope we never have to take it off the shelf. But if we did, the citizens need to know that there’s somebody in charge that can take that plan off the shelf – dust it off – and begin to execute it – and somebody that’s worked under extreme pressure, as I have. I wear a Legion of Merit and a Combat Action Ribbon and eight other personal decorations from my military service. The citizens can be sure I know how to handle emergencies and I can react well in disasters.
“And then number three – I have a small business out there, where we sell gift items. We represent various manufacturers in the State of West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania. We provide employment to three other individuals. But, the beauty of that is – we’ve actually marketed some of the Department of Agriculture promoted products – some of the sauces and jams and jellies. I sold them in a store that my wife managed at retail and I sold them at wholesale, as a manufacturer’s representative. So, I’ve been involved in that whole type of marketing, already.
“So, you can see, I’m uniquely qualified because I fit all the three major categories of the mission of the Department of Agriculture.”
AMR News will broadcast a statement from Democratic candidate Walt Helmick, if and when the candidate provides a statement.