The Struggle to Stay—Your Vote Counts


Since we launched #TheStruggletoStay social media campaign in March with West Virginia Public Broadcasting, hundreds of West Virginians have identified their concerns with the direction our state has gone. A lack of jobs. A poor education system. The drug epidemic. Environmental concerns. Discrimination. Ineffective government.

Now it’s time to start fixing those problems, and we’re here to help you take the first step. Each one of us has the ability to shape the future of our state. West Virginia’s primary elections are coming on Tuesday, May 10, with early voting already under way through Saturday. If you want to see change in our state, get out and vote.

Over the next five days, we are going to bring you profiles of candidates who are focused on some of the core issues identified during the #TheStruggletoStay campaign.

Go Vote, West Virginia

To make a difference in our state, we must elect leaders with a vision for the future.

Written by Zack Harold

Tuesday, May 10 is Primary Election Day in West Virginia. 

While the presidential race always receives the most attention, there are a myriad of down-ticket races that affect your daily life in a much more direct way—judges, legislators, county commissioners, sheriffs, school board members. 

Unfortunately, if past years are any indication, most West Virginians won’t even bother going to the voting booth. 

Let’s take a look at the last presidential election year, 2012. Only 28 percent of registered voters showed up to vote in the primaries that year, according to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office. 

Think about that. At the time, about 1.2 million of West Virginia’s 1.85 million residents were registered to vote—that’s about 66 percent. But only 337,000 registered voters actually showed up at the polls. 

Those numbers look even worse when you consider the demographic breakdown. In the 2012 primaries, only 4 percent of voters were 18- to 24-year-olds. Only 12 percent were ages 25 to 40.  

The statistics improve in older demographics. A quarter of 41- to 55-year-olds voted in 2012, while 59 percent of people 55 and older voted. But it’s worth noting the age groups with the lowest voter turnout are the same ones that seem to struggle most with The Struggle to Stay.

As House of Delegates candidate Amanda Cadle told us last week, many people don’t leave the state because they don’t like West Virginia. “The people I know … they left because they wanted opportunity,” she says. Others have left because they’re worried about discrimination or the drug problem or the state’s education system. 

But if we ever hope to free West Virginia from its problems, leaving isn’t the answer. Those of us who remain have to create the change we want to see in our state. And a good way to start is by electing leaders who share our values and vision for the future. 

Chris Kittinger, a magistrate judge candidate in Cabell County, summed it up pretty well in our interview last week. “It’s our job to work so our kids can have a good place to grow up. We can’t just look at this generation, or even the next generation. We’ve got to look and see what’s going to keep West Virginia and our area moving forward and getting better. It’s going to take us working together.”

Ric Cavender

Running for Kanawha County Board of Education

Nobody could accuse Ric Cavender of being apathetic about the direction of his community. But he wants to do more.




Kristen Ross

First-time candidate for the House of Delegates from the 31st District (Raleigh and Wyoming counties)

Incoming West Virginia Young Democrats president sees fresh minds in leadership as a step toward solutions that could bring her friends back home.



Denise Campbell

Three-term delegate from the 43rd House District (Randolph and Pocahontas counties) now running for the Senate.

Delegate-turned-State Senate candidate Denise Campbell’s life experience gives her authority and urgency on the need for better disability and mental health services to keep struggling families in the state.



Amanda Cadle

First-time candidate for the House of Delegates from the 13th District (Jackson, Mason, and Putnam counties)

After working on campaigns since she was a young teenager, Amanda Cadle put her name on the ballot this year because she wants to help West Virginia expats come home.



Chris Kittinger

Candidate for Cabell County Magistrate

A West Virginia expat returns home with a drive to take on one of the state’s biggest problems: the plague of addiction.


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