W.Va. Senator Donald Cookman talks to AMR News
Dunmore, W.Va. –
Donald H. Cookman, of Romney, worked as a circuit court judge for 20 years prior to his appointment to the state senate this week. Cookman says he was surprised by the announcement.
“Well, I was shocked that I was appointed,” he said. “You know, Mike Ross and Tom Hawse were the other two names and both very good men. I was surprised that I was selected from the three. But I was shocked and very humbled by the appointment.
“I was telling some friends here recently, it’s like the dog chasing the car. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, but now that I’ve caught it – do I just go bite on to the tire and just flop down the road with it or exactly what do you do? I’ve got a lot to learn and I look to the constituents to help me with the issues, so that I can represent them as best I possibly can.”
The new senator says he is unfamiliar with Pocahontas County issues, but he’s going to learn.
“I’m not very much acquainted with the issues,” he said. And that, of course, is the first thing that I plan on doing is checking with each of the counties and seeing what issues that they have. This is, as you know, is kind of a late appointment. The session’s going to be starting here in a couple weeks. So, I need to go on a fact-finding mission immediately and contact different people in each one of the counties, in the nine counties, to determine what the issues are.
“Of course, I’m sure I can glean some information from Senator Barnes and now-Commissioner Helmick to get me up to speed quicker, because I know that they are familiar with the issues that are most important to the people in Pocahontas County and the other counties in the district, as well.”
Cookman plans to visit Pocahontas County soon.
“There’s two weeks before now and the session,” he said. “There’s a lot of things I need to do just to prepare. But, yeah, I definitely want to get to Pocahontas County and meet some of the folks there, talk to the county commission and different people who may be able to help me with the various issues that are of concern to people in Pocahontas.”
The senator identifies two issues he wants to address.
“Well, I guess the most pressing issue would be the same issues that are most pressing to the state and I guess number one would be the budget,” he said. “I understand there’s going to be some shortfalls this year that need to be addressed. The budget is, obviously, going to be based on what income is coming in, and it’s going to be down this year. So, I assume there’s going to have to be some hard decisions made concerning where that is to be adjusted. That’s number one.
“I think also, prison overcrowding, to me, is a very important issue. They’re talking about building a new prison, at a cost of about $200 million, with $150 to run it. There has to be other possible solutions to that problem that we need to look at. So, I think that’s two that would be on my radar screen to begin with.”
Cookman will represent Pocahontas County for just two years, due to redistricting.
“Because of where I live, I would be running in the 15th District, which would be comprised of all of Hampshire; all of Morgan; the largest portion of Mineral and about half of Berkley,” Cookman said. “The 11th would go down your way and Hampshire County would no longer be in that district.”