EDITORIAL: In Agriculture Comissioner's Race, Leonhardt's Early Rising Work Ethic Tells Us About the Man

HNN Staff
Kent Leonhardt: The Real McCoy
Kent Leonhardt: The Real McCoy

A casual glance is enough to determine who is the real farmer and who is the fake farmer in the race for state Agriculture Commissioner this year.

One of the contenders, Kent Leonhardt, rises early to spend two hours per day on farm chores before he hits the campaign trail.

The other contender, Walt Helmick?  Well, we have seen so little of Helmick this year, especially after his divisive May primary election, that we wonder if Helmick sleeps in late.

The truth is that Helmick has been "office shopping" for a few years now, first looking at the Secretary of State's office, then deciding, seemingly on a whim, to go for Agriculture Commissioner after he learned that longtime Commissioner Gus Douglass was retiring.

Note:  Have you noticed that Douglass, a Democrat like Helmick, hasn't endorsed Helmick for this statewide office?  Neither has the huge WV Farm Bureau, who has endorsed Leonhardt instead.  Now why wouldn't Douglass and the Farm Bureau help Walt Helmick?

Answer:  they want their endorsements to mean something.  If they endorsed a guy with as thin a resume for this position as Helmick has, they'd be watering down their credibility.

Helmick's candidacy has become something of a joke out on the campaign circuit.  Everyone knows what Helmick is about, and it's not agriculture.  Rather, Senator Helmick is getting older, pushing 70, and he wants a fat state retirement check.  He can get that by serving a term at a six-figure job like the Agriculture Commissioner's position.

But there's an unexpected flaw in Helmick's plan.  His name is Kent Leonhardt, who has serious credentials for the job:  15 years of farming in Mon County and 30 years of some of the world's best leadership training as an officer in the U.S. Marines.

Most importantly, Leonhardt has a real vision of where he wants to see our state's agricultural businesses go in the next several years.  Leonhardt has long been a champion of locally grown food, having participated himself in local farmers markets. 

Leonhardt knows how hard it is to have a successful farm, as he has done it himself with sheep, goats, and hay for years.

There is little doubt who would be up early every morning, looking for ways to help the WV farm community.  That man is Kent Leonhardt, who has been working diligently every day to meet the public and earn our trust.

For his sincerity of effort, his vision for agriculture's future in West Virginia, and his willingness to take on Walt Helmick, we endorse Kent Leonhardt for Agriculture Commissioner on Nov. 6.

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