Paula Jean Swearengin
Paula Jean Swearengin is proud native of Mullens, West Virginia, and her coal mining roots run deep: she is the daughter, granddaughter, niece and stepdaughter of a coal miner. As a child, she felt a deep sense of pride in West Virginia’s coal industry. She felt pride that West Virginia’s coal powered our nation through the Industrial Revolution, that it ran America’s factories through World War II, and that it keeps the country running today.
America was built on our coal – it was built, in part, on the backs of Appalachians. Like so many other families in Appalachia, Paula Jean’s family paid a steep price for coal. She lost her grandfather to black lung, and she recently saw her uncles diagnosed with the disease. She’s also seen that the price is not only paid in health and lives. She’s seen West Virginia’s beautiful streams and rivers polluted with toxins, and watched the tops blown off its mountains. She believes that the price West Virginia has paid is a high one – perhaps too high.
Paula Jean believes that the best resource in the Appalachian mountains is its people. She knows that West Virginians are determined, hard working and smart, and when they band together, there’s nothing they can’t accomplish. Paula Jean is ready to fight for her family, her neighbors and her state to deliver the prosperous, healthy future West Virginia deserves. She believes that the legacy of West Virginia cannot be burying its own miles deep in coal mines; it must be building a sustainable future for generations to come.