WEIRTON Del. Mark Zatezalo feels it is time to take the next step in his political career while continuing to work to bring opportunity for growth to the Northern Panhandle.
Surrounded by family, friends, fellow legislators and other supporters at the Serbian Picnic Grounds in Weirton Wednesday, Zatezelo, R-Hancock, announced his plans to seek a seat representing the region in the West Virginia Senate.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” he said, noting, if elected, he would be able to work more closely with lawmakers throughout the Northern Panhandle. “This broadens the scope of what is possible.”
The 1st Senatorial District of the West Virginia Legislature represents all of Hancock, Brooke and Ohio counties, as well as approximately half of Marshall County.
A hydrogeologist by trade, Zatezalo said a focus on energy will continue to be important for all of West Virginia, noting the Marcellus Shale formation has been ranked among the top natural gas fields in the world, as well as the state’s coal production and related industries.
He also pointed to the need to invest in the state’s infrastructure as a way to encourage job growth such as Form Energy, Pure Watercraft and Nucor Steel.
“The ballgame has changed for the area,” Zatezalo said, adding it will be important for teamwork in order for the region and the state to prosper. “We can do that. It’s very simple to do it.”
Education and healthcare also will be important for West Virginia’s future, he said.
Among those joining Zatezalo for his announcement was state Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, whose seat Zatezalo is hoping to win. Weld announced earlier this year his plans to run for West Virginia Attorney General.
In giving his endorsement, Weld looked back at his history with Zatezalo in the Legislature, sharing an office in their earliest days and building a relationship with the goal of working for the people of Hancock and Brooke counties.
“Mark and I came into the House together,” he said. “It didn’t take very long for Oscar and Felix to be born.”
Weld pointed to Zatezalo’s local roots, with a father and grandfather who worked at Weirton Steel, he was raised in Weirton, and, with his wife, Martha, has raised his own children in the community.
“Mark deeply cares about the area,” he said.
Zatezalo said he spoke to his family when considering his run for the Senate, as well as consulting with Weld, Senate President Craig Blair and House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, all of whom gave their blessing saying he would be the most effective to provide legislative leadership in the Northern Panhandle.
Zatezalo is in his eighth year as a member of the House of Delegates, now representing the 2nd District following legislative redistricting. He is the current vice chair of the House Energy and Manufacturing Committee and serves as a member of the House’s Judiciary, Jails and Prisons and Workforce Development committees.
He represents the state on the Energy Council, an international coalition of legislators focusing on energy-related issues within the United States and Canada.