David McKinley, a Republican who represents West Virginia’s 1st Congressional District in Washington, D.C., won for the first time in the 2010 campaign, which brought in a wave of conservative representatives.
McKinley, in his sixth year, has placed service over party affiliation.
“One of the things that we have been working on in Washington primarily has been to be effective, not just go over there and be a member but compromise, figure out how to work to get along with people,” McKinley said during a meeting with the Times West Virginian editorial board.
“I have been able to get 11 bills passed out of the House and I got 61 amendments. I didn’t go there just to make noise. I go there to try to get something accomplished.”
He’s an engineer by trade and takes the approach of his profession into the political arena, looking at problems from all angles and working to come up sound approaches to solve them.
Part of the process is spending considerable time back in West Virginia meeting people throughout the district. He regularly gets together with elected officials, business people, veterans, students, teachers and leaders in the community.
“Let’s just talk to each other,” is his guiding principle.
“To me, I think that is going to be the best way to break down the barrier,” McKinley said. “Why are you thinking the way you are? What is the motivation for why people are saying the things that they are?”
Coal — always a critical issue in West Virginia — is a prime example of how McKinley operates in Congress.
He has challenged President Barack Obama’s administration’s failure to support the coal industry and is an advocate for a long-term national energy policy. He’s not a climate-change denier, but he challenges rules with “arbitrary” figures established by the Environmental Protection Agency that he says don’t make sense scientifically.
McKinley said West Virginia must continue to diversify its economy, but the plight of miners must never be ignored.
“They are crucial to the backbone of West Virginia’s economy,” he said. “We just can’t let the president do what he continues to say.”
He knows that there is movement toward renewable energy, but it will take decades and that “71 or 72 percent of all of our power generated in America today comes from fossil fuels.”
Research is an answer — both in developing more environmentally friendly ways to use coal and diversifying the economy.
“When you look around the country and find where is the vibrancy, where are the communities that are doing well, communities are doing a lot of research,” McKinley said. “I staggered into a statistic that bothered me, and it was Pitt gets just over a billion dollars in federal money in research. They have redone Pittsburgh because of that.
“Pittsburgh used to be a steel city … but now that steel is gone they had to reinvent themselves and they have done it through research, healthcare and intellectual properties and software. I want to focus on research. Penn State gets about $800 million, Virginia Tech gets $700 some million a year. WVU $160 million. If we are going to diversify our economy, we can’t always be on natural gas, coal, timber, chemical and glass. Businesses want to be where the research is the freshest and they have access to laboratories. Businesses will follow and locate there.”
Problem solving — not constant political bickering — is what we want to see in Congress.
That’s the approach we’ve seen from McKinley.
We believe, by a unanimous vote of the newspaper’s editorial board, that McKinley has earned the right to retain his congressional seat through his strong commitment to that philosophy.