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NAME: Deidra Roberts
CANDIDATE FOR: W.Va. House of Delegates District 30 (most of northern Lincoln County)
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: Facebook: Deidra Roberts for Delegate
HOME CITY: Hamlin
HOME COUNTY: Lincoln
EDUCATION: MA, Communication Disorders.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Professional Support Educator, Speech-Language Pathologist, Lincoln County Schools.
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Councilwoman, Town of Hamlin.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: WVEA Building Rep, 4-H Volunteer, Girl Scout Leader, Lincoln County Friends of Marshall Club, American Speech-Language Hearing Association.
ENDORSEMENTS: WV AFL-CIO, Southern District Labor Council, UMWA.
FAMILY: husband, David Robert; children, Lydia Roberts and Luke Roberts.
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I am an educator in Lincoln County Schools with more than twenty years experience as a nationally certified Speech-Language Pathologist. As a Lincoln County Native, I am fiercely proud of my home, while realizing the challenges we continue to face. Currently, I serve as a Councilwoman for the town of Hamlin. As your delegate, I pledge to conduct myself in a professional manner, demonstrating competent, resourceful representation in the state legislature to help Lincoln County prosper. I want to be a voice for issues important to our students, our workers, and our retirees.
1. Do you agree with the Legislature's recent action to allow nuclear power plants in West Virginia, and why or why not?
Yes. This bill shows bipartisan agreement that we must invest in our future by exploring all energy sources. Legislative hearings recognizing valid concerns about safety and efficiency of nuclear power plants offered transparency. We need all forms of energy for the long term. This legislation offers a path towards diversifying our energy sourcing, making WV more attractive to investment.
2. What is your stance on the full legalization of recreational cannabis?
There are many points to consider regarding full legalization of recreational cannabis, including economic and safety. Public hearings are integral to the legislative process. Cannabis is fully legal in 18 states. As Michigan did in 2018, I’m inclined to let the voters decide. If legalized, revenue created from taxes could fund much needed programs for our citizens.
3. What should be done to diversify the state's economy and prevent population loss?
Recognizing and marketing our assets including our workforce, natural resources and geographic location. Diversifying our energy sources will help diversify the state’s economy. Many companies looking to invest in new locations have sustainability goals mandating the use of electrical energy from renewable sources. Continued investment in tourism will make sure that everyone knows about our wild and wonderful state.
4. The state’s foster care system struggles to care for the thousands of children who are now in it. What further action do you think might be necessary?
The number of WV youths in foster care has nearly doubled since 2013, taxing the system. Prioritizing an integrated social safety net to support our kids, focusing on prevention. Working together to pass legislation that addresses vacancies by providing pay raises to social workers and creates a centralized intake system to meet the needs of the 6500 in foster care.
5. How can West Virginia attract and keep qualified educators?
Our teachers are underpaid for taking on the important task of educating our youth. West Virginia teachers remain second to last in the nation in average teacher salary. We must offer educators competitive wages and benefits if we expect to attract and retain them while providing a level of professionalism that is appropriate for the position.
6. Do you support amending state law to provide anti-discrimination protections for West Virginia's LGBTQ community?
While a recent ruling by the state’s Human Rights Commission establishes precedent that West Virginia’s Human Rights Act protects people discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, it could be overturned. I favor strengthening these protections by supporting LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws.
7. How would you describe efforts so far to add more support staff in the state’s schools to help children in troubled homes?
Our response must be proportionate to the problem. Providing social workers to each school is the first step of a long journey. There must be resources available in our communities to address the wide array of problems encountered. Again, prioritizing an integrated social safety net to support our students, focused on prevention.
8. What can the state government do to improve workforce development in West Virginia?
Engaging stakeholders including business owners and un- or under- employed citizens to help drive best policies regarding job training initiatives in the state. Connecting with business owners will help identify critical skills for onboarding new employees. Free 2 year vocational programs has been an important step in developing a skilled workforce.
9. West Virginia has been especially hard hit by the opioid abuse epidemic. What do you see as the role of the legislature in addressing this crisis?
A multidisciplinary taskforce including physicians and behavioral health specialists is necessary to research effective medical treatments while avoiding prescription misuse, addiction, and death. Lawmakers can monitor outcomes of current prescription guidelines that limit the number of days opioids can be prescribed and enact additional safeguards such as prescription drug monitoring programs, that prevent individuals from securing prescriptions from multiple providers.
10. Who is more qualified to handle education policy issues, legislators or county board of education members?
Education policy issues should be based on research and data, not political propaganda. Board of education members are elected for their knowledge and positions on issues important to education. Legislators should not micromanage education or any profession.