PDT Staff Writer
The Second District of the U.S. House of Representatives will have a new representative in 2013 and one of the people vying for that position was in Portsmouth Thursday morning.
Dr. Brad Wenstrup, who defeated incumbent Representative Jean Schmidt, was in town to meet with local business leaders at the Holiday Inn.
One of the key topics was the USEC American Centrifuge Project at Piketon, still awaiting a $2 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy.
“I feel that it’s a project that’s not only important to us not only from a standpoint of national security, which I think is a high priority, which, by the way, is one of the jobs of the federal government, to provide for national security, and I think that is very important,” Wenstrup said. “We want to be able to supply the type of energy we need for our military, but also I think it’s a great energy opportunity here in putting people to work. And with every job you create, you create a few more outside of that.”
Wenstrup talked about the importance of jobs in the area’s sagging economy.
“This area needs it,” Wenstrup said. “This area needs it desperately. It’s 11 percent unemployment right in this area, and we can change that. We’re ready to bust loose if we’re allowed. We just have to create the opportunities for it to exist.”
Wenstrup, already a physician, and a military veteran, says there is a reason he wants to become a U.S. Representative.
“I want it because I think I can make a difference and I have something to contribute,” Wenstrup said. “When I came back from Iraq, basically that experience changed my life in many many ways - my respect for freedoom and the greatness for what this country has been, our respect for freedom around the world.”
Wenstrup said he began talking about the heroes he had met in Iraq, and when he did, people asked him to run for office. Wenstrup ran for Mayor of Cincinnati, and lost, but garnered 46 percent of the vote in a city where 70 percent of the voters are Democrat.
“Then people wanted me to run for anything, and I looked at things, and I was on a retreat with my dad, and the theme was ‘What are you doing with the time you have left?’ and I really thought about Congress because there are people in congress who have never run a business making business decisions and making health care decisions when they have never seen a patient or been in the trenches, and people that have never served in the military making military decisions,” Wenstrup said. “I decided I’m not going to wait for someone to tell me its my turn. I love my country and I just grew up patriotic, and wanted to do more. That’s one of the reasons I joined the Reserve in (19)98. I was 39 years old. I didn’t need to but I saw our country being attacked time and time again and I thought, if we end up going to war over all of these attacks, then I would want to serve. I would want to defend my country and serve our troops.”
Can Wenstrup hit the ground running in Washington should he win the general election?
“I hope so. I think that’s what happens with anybody who is put into these positions,” Wenstrup said. “I have had good support from community for what I’m doing with things like this today. I find them very helpful. There are people (on) both sides of the aisle that want to make this country better - want to make it sustainable - want to see it succeed time and time again, and they’re rallying. So you go, and you have your own thoughts, but you’re a representative of the people.”
One of those in attendance was developer Jeff Albrecht, who said he believed Wenstrup’s attendance was important to the area.
“I just think it’s great that the gentlemen traveled such a long distance to be with us so early this morning,” Albrecht said. “He’s definitely a genuine person and he’s interested in this area. It was refreshing that he told us a lot about himself, but he also took a lot of time to listen to hear about us as well.”
Albrecht said he is still heavily involved in attempting to complete the deal that would bring a steel processing plant to Franklin Furnace.
“We’re waiting for the Hatch Study to be completed. That’s the feasibility study. And when you’re talking about people investing their money, they like to have some independent source that says, ‘Hey, this is a good investment,’” Albrecht said. “And No. 2 is the election. The coal companies in West Virginia, the coal miners are all very concerned about how the national election is going to turn out. They feel like, if there could be a change, maybe in the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and some of these other organizations that are making it so hard for them to survive, could change as well. There’s a lot of unsettled times ahead of us right now. They’d like to see some settling of the issues and then, of course, that feasibility study.”
Wenstrup commented on the diversity of the group as people from both parties participated in the discussion.
“I think the things that we talked about are good for those who are around us, and what we want for our communities,” Wenstrup said. “One good way to approach a problem is that everyone can sit and say, ‘We want everyone to go to work. That’s the goal. We want everyone to have a job.’ Then you start talking about these breakdowns about how we accomplish that. That’s where we may have differences. But that’s what you talk about.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org