The Times West Virginian

November 6, 2012

Strong foundation

As governor, Gaston Caperton set priorities for W.Va.

By Jonathan Williams
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — There’s an old saying that’s been attributed to any number of famous people, probably first said by James W. Frick, that goes something like this: “Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.”

When you look at the West Virginia budget, education makes up nearly a quarter of the state’s annual spending. A good education system touches every child in the state, creates countless job opportunities and improves a state’s economy.

Gaston Caperton, governor of West Virginia from 1989-97, made education a priority during his two terms — and it showed, garnering national recognition for his role in bringing technology into the classroom.

A Charleston native, Caperton was from a young age interested in education. He graduated from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the oldest universities in the nation, and returned to Charleston, where he managed a family insurance firm.

Though he was somewhat involved in politics throughout his career, Caperton did not run for office until 1988, when he challenged and defeated Republican incumbent Arch Moore. In his inauguration in 1989, Caperton did not mince words about the condition of the state or his priorities.

“The truth is, West Virginia does have serious problems and it is time to attack those problems. It is time to go to battle — our enemy is misdirected self-interest, apathy, defeatism and low expectations. This enemy has crippled our state and paralyzed our pioneer spirit.


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