“When I first began my political career, I vowed to always do what was right for West Virginia and the citizens of our State. Right now, that includes continuing to advocate for West Virginia agriculture in order to tackle rising food prices, looming shortages, and our mission to create more resilient agricultural systems. With the war in Ukraine, increasing energy prices, supply chain issues and attacks by foreign agents, securing our agricultural industries is now more important than ever.”
“When I originally ran in 2012, it was to make West Virginia a better place to live, raise a family and start a business. After my victories in 2014, 2016 and 2020, I believe we have implemented policies to take our State down that path. If we are going to continue these initiatives and given so many of my colleagues have aspirations to advance their own political careers, keeping experience on the Board of Public Works will be vital. Therefore, I will be staying in my current position and running for re-election. I began my political career running for Commissioner of Agriculture and that is where I will finish it.”
"My team and our supporters may be disappointed, that I did not throw my hat into the race for Governor, but I want to assure them I will not be sitting idly by in that decision. As I seek re-election, I will also be throwing my support behind those who have the best interests of the State, as well as agriculture. Candidate quality and integrity matters and it is essential the leaders of our state voice their opinions in the upcoming 2024 primary and general elections."
Kent Leonhardt was first elected in 2014 to the West Virginia State Senate representing the Second Senatorial District. In 2016, he was elected as the West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture and then reelected in 2020. Before running for office, Kent served in the United States Marine Corps for 20 years and retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1996. During that time, he served on multiple joint service assignments leading men and women in war and peace. Throughout his service, Kent received a variety of decorations including the Legion of Merit, Combat Action Ribbon and eight other personal decorations.
Kent received his formal education at the University of Missouri, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Wildlife Management. Kent furthered his education by earning a Master’s in Business Management from Central Michigan University. Kent and his wife, Shirley, live on a farm near Blacksville, W.Va. Together, they have three sons, six grandchildren. Kent is a member of the Monongalia County Farm Bureau, past president of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture, President of the Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame, and on the board of Directors for Operation Welcome Home. He is a life member of both the Marine Corps League, and The American Legion.