CHARLESTON – A new engineering job and the heightened responsibilities that came with it is the root reason Sen. Greg Boso, R-Nicholas, resigned Tuesday from his post as one of two lawmakers representing the 11th Senatorial District.
During a phone interview with My Buckhannon on Tuesday, Boso delved deeper into his reasons for resigning, saying he assumed the position of president at a leading forensic engineer practice, Forensic Consulting Group, which serves nationally and is based in Mobile, Ala.
He also discussed legislative accomplishments that meant the most to him, the top one being reforms that were made to the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation while he was in office. He mentioned his role in passing right-to-work legislation as well.
In 2015, Boso accepted an appointment to fill the seat of former senator Clark Barnes in the West Virginia Legislature and then won the election for that seat in 2015, edging his opponent Democrat Denise Campbell by approximately 1,000 votes.
“The firm does investigative and forensic engineering, which is what I do and where my passion lies,” Boso said. “They extended the offer to me to come in and take over and run the organization and allow us to serve across the nation. Most of our response is to disasters when they occur.”
He said most recently, the Forensic Consulting Group responded to the flooding that occurred in Texas as well as states impacted by Hurricane Dorian a few weeks ago.
“Those are events that my agency responds to, helping the insurance industry in assessing and adjusting claims made on insurance policies – homeowner’s policies, flood insurance policies and disaster response,” Boso said.
Boso accepted the position with the Forensic Consulting Group about a month-and-a-half ago and he said within the first two weeks of working there, he realized his responsibilities were much bigger than what he ever envisioned.
“There are some issues – I need to dedicate my full focus on resolving and making sure our business model is able to meet what our company needs to do and most importantly, what our clients expect us to be able to do,” Boso said.
Boso said he has never been the type of person to do things halfway.
“While in the Senate, I poured myself into my responsibilities,” he said. “When people called, I was where I needed to be – the 11th District includes seven counties which is 4.5 hours traveling from one end to the other of Upshur, Randolph, Webster, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Pendleton and a portion of Grant counties. There is a lot of wheel and travel time, and it’s time that I can’t dedicate to my new company, but more importantly, my company was going to require me to be gone more – out of town and out of state.”
Boso said, “My people in my district deserve better than that. They deserve my full focus, and so it was an evaluation. My company was very gracious, and they were trying to accommodate my role as a West Virginia Senator, and they put no pressure on me.”
“But, when I looked at it, with the responsibilities I have, I knew someone was going to get slighted, and the people of West Virginia don’t deserve that,” he continued.
So, Boso made the decision to give up his Senate seat.
“It is time to step away and allow someone who is willing to give the time and the effort to have the opportunity to step in and fulfill those responsibilities,” Boso said.
Boso submitted his resignation to Senate President Mitch Carmichael. His letter was dated Sept. 22 and indicated he would be stepping down from his elected office effective Thursday, Sept. 26.
Down the road in six to eight years, Boso said he will be facing retirement.
“In the last two years, I have been looking and realized someone needs to follow and understand what I do down the road,” he said. “When this opportunity came along, the firm said they wanted me to do exactly that – pour myself into other people so that they can carry on the tradition. This is an opportunity to train people and someone is giving me a platform to be able to do that.”
During these last four years, Boso said his favorite part of being a legislator has been serving the people.
“The people are wonderful and charming,” Boso said. “They are loving, warm people. Second to that is the scenic grandeur of the 11th District. Who else can say I have the birthplace of the rivers in West Virginia? Who else can say I has the highest knob in the state? No one else can point to those kinds of things. It is just spectacular.”
Boso said his district has top-notch fly fishing, whitewater rafting and scenery, mentioning Seneca Rocks and Dolly Sods; however, he said those areas would not be what they are without the people.
“I loved working with everyone,” he said. “I have always tried to hold the perspective that we may disagree about issues, but afterward, we shake hands and still are friends,” Boso said.
While serving as Senator, Boso said he has learned many things.
“People don’t understand that the Legislature process is a grueling process,” he said. “We learn a little bit about it in civics classes, but to understand it completely, you have to be involved in it. You have to understand you have 134 personalities in the Legislature, combined with another opinionated position downstairs that could be overruled by five personalities sitting on the other wing – it is complicated – much more so than I ever envisioned.”
He said another thing he has learned during his tenure in the Legislature is legislators want to hear what their constituents have to say.
“In order to try and understand the issues from everyone’s perspective before weighing in on the final decisions, we try to find the sweet spot, where everyone gains a little and everyone loses a little – that is what our democracy was founded on,” he said. “It’s not all one way or another. When there are [controversial] issues, it is important that everyone weigh in – that’s why we have the voting process we have. It’s important when an issue comes up that you call and let your representatives know how you feel. We do look at who calls and what the numbers say.”
Legislative initiatives Boso worked on while serving as senator that he is particularly proud of include the right-to-work legislation. He said when businesses are considering moving to a state, that is one of the top things they consider.
“We have now what we call the Workplace Freedom Act,” Boso said. “That is one of the accomplishments. When I went to Charleston the first few weeks in 2015, I wondered why I was there. Then, during the third week, the bill proposing the repeal of prevailing wage came up. Everyone said we didn’t need to do that.”
Boso said he worked in the water and wastewater and public works arenas.
“As a young engineer designing projects, I was looking at a laborer with no college degree that was starting out on some of these projects, and he was making three times what I was making,” Boso said. “As a young engineer designing projects, we needed to understand that people need to make a living. But a new laborer, starting out with no training in a position – it was not a way for us to do business.”
Boso said above all, being able to make changes in the West Virginia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has been a monumental change of which he has been thankful to be a part.
“To be able to consolidate our administrative operations, to change the way we were organized and more importantly, to be able to increase our pay for our staff and professionals who protect us every day, that is probably the one most important thing that I can be thankful for,” he said. “Being a firefighter, working on issues that have impacted the way our first responders are able to deliver services to people, are [also] things I am thankful to be a part of because they impact so many.”
He said he has been trying to find funding for those organizations to help them take great strides in the delivery and accountability of fire service, emergency services and first responders.
Boso’s parting message to his constituents is simple.
“Thank you,” he said. “Thank you for the opportunity by allowing me to be here to serve the wonderful people of the 11th District. It’s been a true honor, and I consider it a privilege to be able to serve the people of the 11th District and the people of West Virginia.
“As a senator, it has been a high honor and it is not a privilege I have taken for granted. My best wishes that West Virginia can continue to brighten her horizons with broader hope and a shining future.”
Boso’s seat will be up for grabs in the 2020 election.