UPDATE 10/9/12 @ 11:05 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Natural energy -- namely coal -- and jobs figured prominently in the West Virginia gubernatorial debate Tuesday night between Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Republican challenger Bill Maloney.
Following are some comments from both candidates:
Tomblin, a Democrat, said, “I come from a coal county. I know how important those coal jobs are, and I've been fighting since the first day I've been in office ... with the EPA because they are overstepping their bounds. There's been four different federal judges that have smacked their hands.”
Maloney said, “We need to be proactive, take on Obama's EPA and in addition to that, we've got a cap and trade bill right here in West Virginia that you helped push through."
Tomblin responded with, “I want to correct you once again. We did not pass a cap and trade bill in West Virginia as you have alleged on several different occasions."
The state is still dealing with layoffs in the coal industry. Since January, more than 3,500 coal miners have been laid off.
Tomblin says he wants to retrain those out of work to get them jobs in other fields or industries.
Maloney says the state's tax structure and court system hinder job growth.
Regarding the Marcellus shale natural gas deposits, Maloney said, “It's like we're not even on the radar screen for these things until we fix the basic problems structurally that have kept us 48, 49, 50th in all the good categories, and first in all the bad categories."
They debated about rising utility rates and how to make them affordable to all West Virginians.
Both men also had comments about the idled Century Aluminum smelter plant in Jackson County, W.Va.
Maloney said, “We don't need anymore convoluted deals where you have to hire the right lobbyist to get something done ... We need a level playing field. We shouldn't be giving a special deal to Century just because they have the right lobbyists when all these other manufacturers in West Virginia aren't getting those deals."
Tomblin had the following to say about Century Aluminum: "It's so important to that community, it's important to the retirees, it's important to the state of West Virginia, and I'll continue to work with the Century, with Appalachian Power officials, as well as the retirees to do everything in my power to make sure those jobs return to Ravenswood."
Other major topics debated include education, jail overcrowding and the state's budget.
Many of the feelings about the debate were mixed, with both sides claiming a victory.
WSAZ will be following the candidates from now until election day in what's become a tight race.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.
The race is tight between Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Democrat, and Republican Bill Maloney. Both have different plans for the state, but the key issues remain education, jobs and the economy.
We can expect the candidates to debate those issues facing West Virginians Tuesday night at the Clay Center in Charleston. West Virginia Broadcaster’s Association is sponsoring this one and only debate between the candidates.
WSAZ.com recently sat down with both candidates as they prepared for the debate and painted different visions for the state.
Tomblin was elected as the state’s 35th governor last May after Governor Joe Manchin stepped down to become U.S. Senator.
During Tomblin’s short term in office, hundreds of new manufacturing jobs have been announced in the state, including five hundreds jobs at GeStamp in South Charleston. On the other hand, the state is still dealing with layoffs in the coal industry. Since January, more than 35-hundred coal miners have been laid off.
However, Tomblin believes his administration has eased the burden on business owners and West Virginia families.
“We're lowering our taxes both on consumer sales tax and on food -- eliminating that to make West Virginia a more competitive place and a more business friendly place to attract investments and of course bring jobs to our state," Governor Tomblin said. "What I continue to be able to do is train and retrain those individuals who have lost their jobs in the coal market. We have other opportunities waiting in drilling and gas fields of West Virginia."
The economy is expected to be a big focus of the debate today with West Virginia’s unemployment rate a little more than seven percent.
"Government just needs to get out of the way -- quit making special deals for special interests and small business is the back bone of our economy. We need to do everything we can to help small business," Republican candidate Bill Maloney said. "I'm tired of seeing our children and grandchildren leave our state and I'm tired of being number 49 and 50 in all the good things, and first in all the bad things and we've got to do things differently."
Maloney also blames government corruption for the lack of change in the state. He says the state needs to become more competitive.
"I want to repeal that cap and trade bill, that's one of the first things we'll do. I want to take on some legal reforms and we've got some corruption issues that we're going to take on. We've got some serious ethic reforms we need to address and it seems like the good old boy network is alive and well and they think everything's fine if you're on the inside. But we've got to make it more about what you know and not who you know," Maloney said.
Meanwhile, education will be another key issue in tonight’s debate.
Tomblin believes a recent education audit is proof the state is improving education. The governor held several meetings across the state to identify issues facing students and ways to fix them.
He also granted teacher pay raises in hopes of making the state more competitive in recruiting qualified educators.
"We've got to do everything we can to make sure our students stay in school, cut down on the drop out rate, make sure we have the kind of teachers, kind of technology we need to make sure our students do get the kind of world class education we need."
Maloney doesn’t disagree with Tomblin, but he doesn’t believe Tomblin’s doing enough. He believes the rate isn’t high enough.
"We've got a concrete plan of how we'll change this state and make it more open and friendly to business, and to grow the private sector and bring our children and grandchildren back. It's simple stuff," Maloney said.
Mountain Party candidate Jesse Johnson and Libertarian party candidate David Moran are also running for governor, but they won't be part of the debate.
You can watch the Gubernatorial Debate tonight on WSAZ and on our webchannel, WSAZ.com from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m.
You can join the conversation by following the hash tag #wvgovdebate, @WSAZnews and @WSAZbrooks.
If you can’t watch the debate, WSAZ NewsChannel’s 3 Jessica Ralston and Brooks Jarosz will have complete coverage of the debate on myZ at 10 p.m. and WSAZ NewsChannel 3 at 11 p.m. The entire debate will be loaded on WSAZ.com later this evening.
WSAZ.com also encourages you to head over to our WSAZ Facebook page to take a short quiz for some insight on the gubernatorial candidates.
The general election is set for Tuesday, November 6.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.