FAIRMONT – After nearly 30 years in the West Virginia Legislature, Marion County Senator and Senate minority leader Roman Prezioso has announced he won’t seek reelection to the state senate.
When he finishes his term next year, it will have been 30 years since he first began in the House of Delegates, which he said is a length almost unbelievable in its perceived brevity.
“I never intended to stay 30 years, I really didn’t,” Prezioso said. “You learn the process, you do all that work, you say one more time, one more time, then it’s been 30 years and you say ‘How did I get this old?’”
Prezioso said he first ran for the House of Delegates in 1988 and was elected to begin serving in 1989 and later ran for Senate, getting elected in 1996. From there, he worked on and chaired several committees including chairing the education committee, which continues to this day.
For him, the decision boiled down not only to the current political climate, but also the difficulties faced when living life consistently on the road.
“With the political climate, the way it is in Washington, D.C., it’s pilfered down to the state level and it’s not a whole lot of fun anymore,” Prezioso said. “One of the major decisions was you’re away from home, especially in the wintertime when the roads are bad. Just being away from home is so hard.”
For the delegates of Marion County, this announcement is a surprise, but one Prezioso deserves to have after all his years in government.
“I’ve had the privilege of serving with Sen. Prezioso the last 23 years,” said Delegate Mike Caputo, D-50. “He’s certainly a man with deep convictions and has the utmost respect from his colleagues in the House and Senate from both sides of the aisle.
“Marion County is certainly going to lose a good leader.”
Delegate Linda Longstreth, D-50, said she appreciates the work of Prezioso over the years and is also sad to see him leave the position.
“Roman has been chairman of almost every committee in the Senate,” Longstreth said. “As a Democrat, he was one of our strong leaders in the Senate; myself, I’m shocked and I’m disappointed he’s not going to run for reelection.
“I think we need him down there... I’m very disheartened by it.”
Delegate Michael Angelucci, D-50, started in the legislature last year and said Prezioso’s path was a guide for him to get started in the state government.
“I’m proud of the hard work and the dedication that Prezioso has shown to the people of Marion County over the last 30 years,” Angelucci said. “We had a legislative round table where I had the opportunity to speak with Prezioso, and he offered some very good guidance, appreciative of the work he did for not only Marion County, but all of West Virginia.”
Following Prezioso’s announcement, Caputo began pontificating on the thought of making a Senate run himself, seeing that he may be able to fill the vacant seat.
“I’m struggling with that right now, trying to find out what’s best for Marion County,” Caputo said. “I certainly would not even be considering this if Sen. Prezioso was seeking reelection, but the reality of it is, there is a vacancy there and I want to do what I think is best for the people of Marion County.”
While he made the announcement Monday, Prezioso still has work to do with the West Virginia government, and he said he plans to complete this work before he makes his exit. He added that although he will no longer be in state government, he will likely stay involved or at least informed in policy at a local and state level.
“I’ve got one more year in my term, I’m working hard with my caucus to formulate goals for the next session,” Prezioso said. “It’s going to be the healthcare issues, it’s going to be education issues, fighting this opioid crisis, things that are relevant to West Virginia we think need to be done.”
Prezioso’s decision is also one he made for his personal life, which he said has gone through some change as of late making him rethink his future and where he will take it.
“I’m going to have some grandchildren now and that certainly changes your perspective in life,” Prezioso said. “I want to do a little traveling, I’ve been watching Aerial America and I’m very amazed at the beauty this country has, and I want to see some of it.”