Name Samuel (Sam) Wood
Office Sought WV State Senator, District #17
Party Affiliation Democrate
City/Town South Charleston
Campaign Website SamWood.com
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?
We need balance on this issue. Students deserve safe, non-disruptive school environments to learn and thrive.
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?
I would support allowing mental health teams assist with first responders and encourage police officers to use their expertise in lieu of traditional policing. The legislature’s role would to appropriate funding.
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?
My wife, Linda, and I lost our first pregnancy. While I’m personally pro-life, as a member of the State Senate I will vote to the reinstate the legal precedents that were in place during the 50 years that Roe was the law of the land. With the increased debate on this issue from the Dobb’s decision, it has become clearer to me that West Virginia has gone too far in restricting women’s access to healthcare and have imposed too much government overreach into personal and private medical decisions.
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 oppose discrimination in any form. I would support legislation to protect any class of people or individuals from discrimination.
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?
Curriculum for public schools should be developed by teachers, educational professionals at the State Department of Education and the State Board of Education. I don’t see a role for the Legislature in developing curriculum.
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?
Matters of employment, housing, and public accommodations should extend to everyone on an equal basis.
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?
Business and residents deserve safe and clean neighbors to live and conduct businesses. West Virginia needs to take on the root of this problem. Rather than proposing constitutional amendments to eliminate personnel property taxes for industry, the state needs to invest in mental health treatment, drug rehabilitation and recovery housing. Using the opioid pharmaceutical settlements towards this effort would be great a start.
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?
The solution is two-prong. There needs to be comprehensive assessment of West Virginia’s penal code to determine if some punishments that drive up prison populations can be changed, and still provide adequate protection to assure public safety. One such strategy could include expanding home confinement when appropriate. Secondly, correctional employees are vastly under paid and the state must increase funding to compensate them.
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?
I concur with not being able to vote while in prison or on parole, but when the debt is paid to society the right to vote should be returned.
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 think parents or guardians, along with transgendered minors, should be making these personal, private medical decisions without government interference.