Midland Trail High School senior running for House of Delegates

HICO, WV (WOAY) – There’s not much you can do at Midland Trail High School without running into Austin Simms.

He’s there at 7 a.m. and typically leaves around 10 p.m., but he’s not just your heavily- involved high school student. 

“I’m running for the West Virginia House of Delegates in the 32nd District, and I’m running on the Republican ticket,” Simms said. 

That’s right, he is running for state office and working toward that high school diploma at the same time.

Those who know him say this is not a big surprise, but that it is still impressive given what Simms has overcome

“I’ve struggled, not sure where my next meal would come from sometimes, not sure if I’d come home to a mother or father alive due to drugs. But I looked in the mirror one day and I was like, ‘This can’t be my family anymore.’ I have to be the change. I have to give my family opportunities to want to stay here to want to change,” he said.  

So, he threw himself completely into extracurriculars. He’s an office aide, he goes to every single sporting event as he runs the Hico Psychos Facebook page, and he wants to take his own experiences and what he’s learned about this community and its hardships to Charleston.

“People may feel a little uneasy having a high school senior representing them in Charleston, but I look at the people and I ask them, ‘What has quote experienced leaders really done to better your life?’ So what do you have to lose right now? We need to change. Change is good,” he said. “You know, change doesn’t mean you have to change your life, your culture, your traditions, but to better this state, we need a positive change. We can’t stay on the same road.” 

While other high school seniors are thinking about prom, graduation, jobs and college, Simms is thinking about that and about the state’s budget and infrastructure and ways to diversify the economy as he hopes to serve the community that he says is “everything” to him. 

“I just want to really go down and stand up for these people that I truly love so much.”

Simms plans to take the next couple years off to focus on his candidacy.

So far, Simms will face off against Austin Haynes and incumbents Tom Fast and Kayla Kessinger.

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Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.