October 17, 2014

Manchin: Take ownership of government | Martinsburg Journal

MARTINSBURG - The hardest thing Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., faces as a U.S. Senator is recruiting good West Virginians to serve, he told a packed room at an open house for his new offices in the Aikens Center off Edwin Miller Boulevard in Martinsburg.

"I'm worried about young people," he said, turning to a group of middle-schoolers, who were invited to the open house.

"This is your country - this is your government - you own it - people need to act like they own it," Manchin told the students. "Government gets a bad wrap. It's your best partner if it works right. It's your worst nemesis if left unchecked."

His Eastern Panhandle regional offices moved in September from the W. Craig Broadwater Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse on West King Street in downtown Martinsburg to the third floor of 261 Aikens Center. That also is the home of Shepherd University Martinsburg Center. Manchin was joined by Shepherd University President Suzanne Shipley.

"We wanted a warm and friendly and inviting place for our offices," Manchin said. "Coming into the courthouse with the scanning was difficult for some people. And this is a natural fit - government and education."

He talked about growing up in the retail business and that is how he thinks of government.

"I believe in retail government," Manchin said. "In retail, you live and die on the satisfaction of your customers. We're here for you. Public service is not self-service."

Manchin served in the West Virginia House of Delegates and Senate. He was elected secretary of state in 2000. He was elected governor in 2004 and re-elected governor in 2008.

After U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., died in 2010, a special election was held in November to fill Byrd's unexpired term through 2012. Manchin won that election and was elected to a full six-year term in the U.S. Senate in 2012.

Manchin is obviously frustrated with the political situation in Congress.

"You can't politicize everything," he told the crowd Thursday. "You can't be a Democrat every day. You can't be a Republican every day. You have to be an American every day. You have to be a West Virginian every day. Politics cannot drive our lives."

- Staff writer John McVey can be reached at 304-263-3381, ext. 128.

By:  John McVey