Name Kari Woodson


Party Affiliation Libertarian

District 9

City/Town Oak Hill

Campaign Website

Data shows that Black and low-income students are disciplined at a higher rate than their peers in West Virginia schools. Involvement of School Resource Officers (SROs) exacerbates these discrepancies and can lead to the school-to-prison pipeline. Studies show SROs do little to make schools safer, while contributing to harsher discipline and drawing resources away from other services like mental health and other support services. What is your position on having SROs in schools?

I personally would like to see more social workers, psychologists, and counselors available for students and staff. I would like to see a restorative justice program implemented as well. Most parents feel their children are safer because of SROs. Due to easily found statistics, they are not. In most cases teachers are the ones who are helping and defending the students. Sometimes even putting their life on the line to do so. I do not see SROs being pulled from school campuses. I feel like it is a political optics game to show parents/guardians that their kids are important and are being kept safe. I believe that if SROs are to be used that the person put into the position, is put there because they understand the role they are playing in the students lives and how profoundly they can impact the rest of their life.

Mental health has been a growing concern since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Conversations on mental health are complicated by the prevalence of substance use disorder (SUD) in the state. WV has long wait times for mental health services including SUD treatment. One proposal is using mental health teams as first responders. Would you support funding for more mental health response teams? Why or why not, and what if any is the role of the legislature in solving this issue?

As someone who worked in a hospital setting during the heaviest onslaught of COVID-19, my own mental health teetered and it took me a few months to dig myself out of the depression and anxiety. In my personal life I have also had friends and loved ones fight to overcome mental health issues especially SUD. Some of them tragically lost their battles. I am definitely for mental health teams as first responders. I feel that police officers do not have appropriate training to deescalate particular situations involving mental health issues. More times than not the situations end with criminal charges or a fatality. Getting the help that is needed from people equipped to provide it, is crucial to the person in crisis because it may save their life in that moment and that gives them the potential to receive treatment and possibly begin a path to wellness.

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In response, the West Virginia Legislature banned most abortions.  Do you agree or disagree with this new law?  What do you think West Virginia's abortion policies should be?

I disagree with the new law, the old law and all the ones in between. Healthcare should not be legislated. In a population of 1.8 million people, this is not a decision that should have been made by 134 people. Laws in general should not be decided based on religious convictions and personal beliefs. That is exactly what played out in WV. The policy on abortion in WV should be any and all decisions should be left to the pregnant person and the doctor they trust to provide care to them and it is no one’s business except theirs.

Several West Virginia municipalities have passed ordinances that expand the definition of racial discrimination to include discriminating against traditional or natural hair textures and styles. Would you support expanding this protection statewide? Why or why not?

I would support this. It is hard for me to come to terms with it being 2022 and racial discrimination is still an issue. It is saddening to me that some have been able to dissect racism down to hair in an attempt to circumvent appearance of being a racist.

Many states have created laws that seek to limit the teaching of "divisive concepts" or "critical race theory.” West Virginia narrowly missed passing a similar law during the 2022 Legislative Session.  What is the value or harm in teaching these topics and what role should the legislature play in determining this curriculum?

I see value. Learning and understanding how we got here is an important part of paving a better future. Giving students all of the information for them to think on, form opinions and talk about is giving them the freedom to decide where to go from here. The legislature’s role in this topic should be to let the educators do their jobs and stop tying their hands. More damage is done by not learning about and having open discussions about race, inequality, civil rights, activism and much more. Prohibition laws don’t work. In my opinion, laws passed to limit teaching these subjects is equal to being complicit with racism and other forms of discriminatory hate. Laws passed to ban the teaching are absolutely racism and discriminatory hate.

Currently there is no statewide law protecting people in matters of employment, housing, and public accommodations based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Do you support or oppose adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law? Why or why not?

I support this. None of us truly have any freedom until we all equally have the same freedoms. Everyone should have the right to be who they are and love who they want. Sexual orientation and gender identity have no bearing on a persons ability to do a job if they are qualified for it. It also does not have any bearing on a persons ability to pay for housing. As far as public accommodations go, everyone deserves the right to their dignity.

There is increasing tension with communities of people who are unhoused or face housing insecurity. Police breakups of encampments are common, and municipalities have shown growing opposition to low-barrier housing and recovery housing. How would you address community concerns while protecting the rights of unhoused people?

I have thought about this a lot over the past several years. I do not feel that the government is equipped to truly understand how to make this better. This is when local community outreach programs and food pantries should come in to play. We should listen to them because they are effectively boots on the ground and are trusted. They know why many, if not all may be unhoused. They know what resources are needed for the individuals and try hard on their own to put together a plan to help. We need to help the community outreach groups. Helping them obtain the resources and support they need to thrive, we will largely contribute to the preservation of dignity of the unhoused and people in risk of becoming unhoused.

Jails in West Virginia are overcrowded, have some of the nation’s highest death rates, and are bankrupting some counties. Prisons are understaffed, making them dangerous for residents and staff alike. What steps should West Virginia take to address these issues?

Legalize marijuana completely and release all nonviolent offenders incarcerated due to convictions for marijuana related offenses. Probation/treatment for incarcerated nonviolent drug offenders. Offer restorative justice programs to attempt a noncriminal/incarceration resolution for nonviolent offenses. Mental health response to deescalate situations that are due to a mental health crisis that only turn into criminal charges due to law enforcement interaction. A partnership with Workforce WV or a similar private institution for job training and assistance securing jobs for incarcerated individuals and those on probation to allow them the chance to start over and potentially break the cycle of being re-incarcerated. With the assistance of social workers/school counselors and school administrators to identify at risk juveniles and help them change course by showing them interest and support they might not be getting at home. Helping find class options that allow them succeed and not feel overwhelmed with their class load and explore extracurricular activities. Community business involvement assisting with providing volunteering and after school job opportunities would also be a great help in the lives of the kids but it would strengthen the community in whole overtime.

Taxpayers who have served time behind bars and are currently on probation and/or parole cannot vote in West Virginia. The West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee joined a growing number of states this year and passed a bill that would have expanded that right to people in community corrections. When, if ever do you think people should lose their right to vote? When should that right be restored?

People should never loose their right to vote. Voting gives you the opportunity for your voice to be heard. Being convicted of a crime should not mute that voice. People who have gone through the judicial system, especially those who have been incarcerated, probably have a lot to say about being on that side of the laws and policies that have been put in place. Their opinions and ability to vote should matter. They may be the voice we need to hear to show us the direction we need to go to fix the broken parts of judicial system especially the jails and prisons.

Study after study shows that gender-affirming care is lifesaving for trans people. And yet, some states have banned things like hormone therapy and even labeled gender-affirming care for minors as child abuse. How can West Virginia, a state with a large percentage of trans-identifying teens, best protect transgender people?

I feel that gender-affirming care is a part of healthcare. Healthcare should not be legislated. Your body belongs to you and you alone. The state should defer to medical professionals that specialize in body-affirming care and allow them to help our trans-identifying teens and adults navigate their journey unimpeded. I believe nondiscrimination laws should include wording to explicitly spell out protections for trans-identify people and any harm or harassment that should be aimed their direction should be treated as a hate crime. I will state again, none of us truly have any freedom until we all equally have the same freedom. Freedom in this instance it the freedom to be yourself and feel comfortable in your skin.