Junior WLU student, James Willis, running for West Virginia House of Delegates

Willis at the W.Va Capitol Building.

James “Jimmy” Willis, a junior political science major at WLU is running for the West Virginia House of Delegates as a member of the Republican Party. The House of Delegates is the lower house in the West Virginia legislature composed of 100 members from 67 districts with delegates serving two-year terms. Willis is running for the third district which incorporates areas in both Brooke and Ohio County including West Liberty.

The West Virginia House of Delegates elections are on Nov. 8, with the primaries taking place on May 10. Willis is running unopposed in the Republican Party primary and will likely take on Phil Diserio, the incumbent Democratic Party candidate.

Willis recently announced his candidacy after careful consideration. “It’s been something I’ve been considering a lot in the past six months. Obviously, there’s a lot of stuff going on in the country and I felt like at the federal level we’re weaker than we should be, and I wanted to do my part and help get the state houses stronger,” said Willis.

Willis has been working closely with the Brooke County Republican Party as a Bethany local and has recently acquired stronger connections with the Ohio County sector of the party as well. “Even before I decided to run I was working with them [Brooke County GOP]. I’ve been talking with both of them, but mainly the Brooke County GOP,” said Willis.

The campaign is still in its early stages and Willis is still formulating his platform and getting to know his potential future constituents. The local community is at the center of his campaign. “Right now, I’m coordinating with teachers I know from my high school, some buddies of mine who are union workers and different people from different walks of life because I want to hear from them,” he said.

Willis says he wants the focus of his campaign to remain oriented around the issues people face every day in the community. “At the end of the day, elected officials work for the people,” said Willis.

Willis says the most exciting part of the process is getting to meet new people in the district and learning about their lives and passions. The atmosphere, he said, is a major motivating factor and pushes him to do better.

For now, Willis is focusing on his own town. “Right now, I’m just focused on this election at the local level and taking care of my district, of my state as whole and getting to do both at the same time is something very exciting for me.”

According to Willis, being a political science major at WLU has helped him learn about the structure and nature of politics at the local, state and national level and has provided him with valuable tools and information going into the election season. “It’s helped me a lot,” said Willis. “I did my research and knew a lot of stuff surrounding politics before that, and I had my mind set on which side of the aisle I chose to be a part of before, but it really helped me, especially classes with Dr. Harper and Dr. Fitzpatrick, with the critical thinking part. It’s really helped me to slow down, take a breath.”

Though he is running as a Republican and says he will not budge on certain issues like abortion and the second amendment, Willis wants to be accountable to everyone in the district. “We might not agree on everything, but I can promise you that I will go in every day that we’re in session, head held high, knowing that the people have entrusted me to do this for them. Obviously, we [Republicans and conservatives] are going to agree on more, but I will have everybody in mind.”

As a full-time student, balancing college and running for office is a challenging task. “It was an adjustment,” said Willis. “It’s still early so it’s not as much of a grind yet (but) it will be when it gets warm and I start doing the door-to-doors and town halls.”

To find out more about Willis’ campaign and platform, you can contact him by email. To learn more about the West Virginia Legislature’s current session, check out their website.