Historic teacher’s strike sends new representation to W.Va. Capitol

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BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) West Virginia teachers and services personnel made national headlines during a strike in 2018, pledging to make their voices heard.

So how did they do on election night?

According to a David Hainey with the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA), the organization was successful with 53 percent of endorsed candidates elected or re-elected in the West Virginia Senate — picking up two seats. In the House of Delegates, the WVEA endorsed candidates secured 50 percent of the seats — picking up five seats.

One of the new delegates supported by the WVEA was a Raleigh County bus driver, whose strong voice for educators and service personnel during the strike gave him a ride all the way to the state capitol on Tuesday night.

“When I found out I’d won, my first thought was I gotta get to work. I’m ready to represent the 31st District,” said Delegate-elect Christopher Toney, (R) Raleigh County, 31st Dist.

Toney started working for Raleigh County Schools 12 years ago as a Custodian, eventually taking on new roles as a Special Education Aide and Bus Driver.

Toney had something his opponents did not, his supporters argue, an understanding of what the everyday West Virginian needs in a lawmaker.

“I drive a school bus and don’t make a whole lot of money. But i’m just like everyone else working around here.”

On top of fighting for higher pay and better benefits for teachers and service personnel, Toney wants to work with state leaders to reform the education — making the school system a place where people want to come work.

“It’s a very rewarding position, service personnel included, aides, custodians, and secretaries. We all want to make sure that these kids succeed because they are our future.”

And along his bus route on Route 99, he wants to make road conditions better, taking cues not from and politician or political group, but the people who elected him.

“I’m glad for this opportunities. I’ll do everything I can to make people in my district’s voices heard. And I’ll take advice. I’ll take whatever I can.”

Annie Moore

Annie Moore

Multimedia Journalist

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