By BETTY IRELAND

CHARLESTON -- The recently adjourned legislative session reinforces my belief that West Virginia is in dire need of true leadership.

We the people witnessed firsthand what happens when there is a lack of principled leadership at the state Capitol. West Virginians expect more and they deserve more.

Important legislation —- guaranteeing an automatic right of appeal in our court system that would have made West Virginia more competitive and create jobs for our people who desperately need them -- was killed by special interests. Critical legislation to address how we would go forward with regulating drilling in the Marcellus Shale was killed.

And once again, the Legislature kicked the retiree health benefits (OPEB) issue down the road for future generations to wrestle with, because our current so-called leaders wouldn't sit at the same table and agree how to proceed with paying down this enormous debt.

Leaders of both the House and the Senate acted like schoolyard bullies by removing members from committees or stonewalling action because it didn't suit their political interests or their party's agenda. It was just easier to take their ball and go home. The hijacking of important legislation and committee business to further partisanship and personal advancement instead of the needs of the people cannot be tolerated.

When the tough decisions needed to be made, there was no one to rise to the occasion. When we needed to get our fiscal house in order, the speaker, the acting president and the acting governor ignored their duties. We expected them to do what the rest of us are doing every day during these hard times – cut waste, find efficiencies and live within our means.

Instead, they spent more than we can afford in these difficult financial times and placed more debt on the backs of our children and grandchildren. They ignored the needs of those that they were selected to represent. They failed West Virginia in one of its greatest times of need.

I'm running for Governor because we have to get our state working again. I'm running for Governor because I know that our elected officials can do better than what we just witnessed this legislative session.

We need experienced, constructive leaders who aren't afraid to stand up and make the hard decisions. We need tough, tested, conservative leadership to get West Virginia working again.

Ireland is a Republican candidate for governor.

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