MMDC is the first event to feature all four gubernatorial candidates at our Candidate Showcase. Each candidate for governor will have the opportunity to speak directly to West Virginia’s manufacturing sector about their plans for the Mountain State and answer a few questions from the moderator. Candidates will appear one at a time to allow MMDC participants to focus on each person individually.
Bill Cole is a fifth-generation businessman who has spent more than 30 years growing businesses and creating jobs. In 2000, he started building Bill Cole Automall that along with his other business interests employs over 400 people. He also owns an aviation company and is a licensed pilot with more than 4,000 hours of flying time.
In 2012, he ran for and won a seat in the State Senate. Bill quickly realized that in order to end the culture of corruption in Charleston that was holding West Virginia’s economy back, he needed to help elect a group of like-minded legislators who shared his belief that state government needed to modernize in order for West Virginia’s economy to grow.
In 2014, Bill Cole led the effort to win a Republican majority in the state senate for the first time in 83 years, despite the political experts’ predictions that it could not be done. His colleagues elected him to serve as Senate President.
After serious consideration, Bill Cole announced his candidacy for Governor on June 2, 2015, saying, “West Virginia needs a Governor committed to reform. I believe my lifelong experiences in business, as well as my accomplishments as Senate President give me a unique opportunity to lead our state government in a new direction.”
Booth Goodwin was the U.S. Attorney for Southern District of West Virginia for the past 5 years, and a federal prosecutor for 10 years before that. Booth has prosecuted and sent to jail corrupt politicians and gone after prescription drug abuse. He’s fought for safer schools and reached out to kids to keep them from going down the wrong path. He’s helped rebuild communities plagued by drugs and violence. He’s prosecuted criminals who prey on our elderly and our children.
Booth grew up in Ripley and is married to Amy Goodwin, a Wheeling native. Booth and Amy now live in Charleston with their boys—Joe and Sam. When Booth and Amy are not watching their boys play hockey or run cross country they can be found mountain biking, camping at one of their favorite state parks, skiing the hillsides of the Mountain State, or hiking with their very large lab, Gus.
Jim Justice is best known as the owner of The Greenbrier, but he is also the President of 47 different companies. As the President and CEO of Bluestone Industries, Jim launched a massive expansion of multiple businesses including coal, agriculture, and timber. He is the largest grain producer on the east coast.
When The Greenbrier went into bankruptcy, Jim stepped up to buy the resort. He invested in major renovations and expansions, and reversed employee benefits cuts. Jim brought the PGA Tour, the NFL, and the NBA to West Virginia.
He is President of the Beckley Little League and is the boys and girls’ basketball coach at Greenbrier East High School. At Christmas, Jim donates $1 million in gifts to needy kids.
He earned an undergraduate degree and a masters in business administration from Marshall. He and his wife Cathy, have two adult children, Jay and Jill.
Like so many West Virginians, Jeff came from humble beginnings and was raised in a small town by parents who were proud, hard-working people who had high expectations for their children. In fact, I was the first in our family to graduate from college and go on to law school.
Jeff is the founding partner in the law firm of Berry, Kessler, Crutchfield, Taylor & Gordon. He was appointed to the Senate in 1997 and elected the following year. Jeff served as Judiciary Chairman from 2003 to 2001 when he was elected by the members of the Senate to serve and preside over that body as the first and only Acting President in the history of the West Virginia Senate. He was elected and served as President of the Senate from 2012 to 2014 and now serves as Minority Leader.
Jeff Is proud of the work he’s done as a State Senator, but without question, he will tell you that his greatest achievement has been his role as a husband and father. Jeff and his wife, Gretchen, live in Glen Dale and are especially proud of their five children ages two to 26.