WV Press Staff Report
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – “West Virginians come to the Senator for really almost any issue that they need help with, and he sees that as his top priority – delivering the necessary constituent services to help them.”
That’s what Mara Boggs, W.Va. state director for U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), told reporters just days ahead of her scheduled appearance at the WV Press Association’s annual convention. Expanded this year to include family-members and guests of newspaper representatives, the convention will be held on Friday, Aug. 11, and Saturday, Aug. 12 at the Four Points by Sheraton in downtown Charleston.
“Since Sen. Manchin has come into office, he has worked with 98,354 cases,” Boggs said. “That means almost 100,000 West Virginians have come to the Senator for help with their federal or state benefits – like veterans benefits, social security, passport issues, tax returns – or even if they’re having a problem with roads.”
“Sen. Manchin’s office also offers economic-development services, like job fairs, helping to attract business to the state, and legislative issues,” Boggs added. “I know the Press Association has certain legislative priorities. You bring those to us, and we try to help solve them through legislation.”
Manchin’s Republican counterpart, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, provides similar services to her constituents, as well.
“If you can’t get an answer from a federal agency in a timely fashion, or if you feel you have been treated unfairly, my office may be able to help resolve a problem or get you the information you need,” Capito states on her website. “While we cannot guarantee you a favorable outcome, we will do our best to help you receive a fair and deserved response to your problem.”
Sen. Capito’s office can also provide assistance with obtaining or renewing passports, as well as selecting and applying for federal grants suitable to constituent’s needs. Most requests for assistance from Sen. Capito or her staff can be submitted online by visiting capito.senate.gov. Constituents wishing to speak to someone about their situation may contact the Senator’s Charleston, W.Va. office at 304-347-5372. Capito’s Morgantown office can be reached at 304-292-2310, and her Martinsburg office at 304-262-9285.
Similar requests of Sen. Manchin may also be made online, by visiting manchin.senate.gov. Manchin’s Charleston office may also be reached by phone at 304-342-5855. The Eastern Panhandle office can be reached at 304-264-4626, and the Fairmont office at 304-368-0567.
Boggs is scheduled to appear at the WV Press Association convention as part of Friday’s educational session, sponsored by Berkshire Hathaway Energy (BHE). During the session – which begins at 3:45 p.m. – attendees will learn best practices for interacting and working with representatives from the Congressional Offices of West Virginia’s elected officials. The session will also feature updates on social security from AARP, and on the “News & Small Business Support Act” from representatives of the Rebuild Local News Coalition.
According to Sam Runyon, press secretary to Sen. Joe Manchin, the best way for reporters to get in touch is via email, at [email protected].
“We monitor that (email address) as close to 24 hours a day as we can – all waking hours,” Runyon said. “They can also call any of our offices. Someone is answering those phones all working hours. We also have a pretty robust press list. We send press releases, and we also send out a newsletter that is sometimes very helpful to reporters.”
Boggs added that events such as Friday’s educational session at the Press Convention are also a great opportunity for reporters to connect with staff.
“If I’m at an event with [or without] the Senator and we connect, that gets shared with the team,” Boggs said. “If you get to our office in any way, we’ll get you what you need.”
ABOUT MARA BOGGS
Originally from Keyser, W.Va., Mara Boggs was the first woman to command her unit of the U.S. Army’s 82nd. Division, where she led more than 800 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. After leaving the military with the rank of Major in 2011, Boggs joined Senator Joe Manchin’s staff as Chief of Operations and Senior Advisor in his Washington, D.C. office. Boggs returned to West Virginia in 2014 to serve as Manchin’s State Director – a position she has held since.