Ashton Marra

Assistant News Director, Statehouse Reporter

Ashton Marra is the Assistant News Director at West Virginia Public Broadcasting, coordinating the coverage of her fellow reporters under News Director Jesse Wright, and serves as the producer for the morning news magazine West Virginia Morning. She also serves as the fill-in host of the program.

Ashton covers the Capitol for West Virginia Public Broadcasting and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning with the latest statehouse news, from politics to policy and everything in between.

During the legislative session, Ashton hosts West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s nightly television show The Legislature Today. She also reports from the Senate, bringing daily reports from the inner-workings of the state’s upper house.

Ashton served as the producer and host of Viewpoint, West Virginia Public Broadcasting's 10-week political podcast fall of 2016 focused on the General Election. 

Ashton is the winner of two 2016 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her work producing West Virginia Morning and covering the decline of the state's coal industry. She was also named the 2015 and 2016 "Outstanding Reporter of the Virginias" by the Virginias Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

Ashton's work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, PBS NewsHour, WBUR’s Here & Now, WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, KCRW’s To the Point and other programs.

Ashton came to WVPBS in October of 2012 from ABC News’ morning program Good Morning America where she worked as a production associate. Ashton produced pieces for the broadcast, including the first identified victim of the Aurora, CO, movie theater shooting and the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, as well as multiple entertainment news stories.

Before her time at GMA, Ashton worked as an intern on ABC’s news assignment desk, helping to organize coverage of major news stories like the Trayvon Martin case, the Jerry Sandusky trial and the 2012 Presidential election. She also spent 18 months as a weekend reporter for WDTV based in her hometown of Clarksburg, W.Va., breaking the story of missing Lewis County toddler Aliayah Lunsford. Ashton’s work from that story was featured on HLN’s Nancy Grace in October of 2011.

Ashton graduated summa cum laude from West Virginia University in May of 2012, where she was named WVU’s Reporter of the Year. 

 

Ways to Connect

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

This weekend, members of the West Virginia Legislature will return to Charleston for their December interim meetings.

Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate will meet behind closed doors Sunday separately to choose the next Senate President and House Speaker, and the two chamber minority leaders, all influential posts.

But with a Democratic governor and a Republican majority in both legislative chambers, there’s one position that seems to control policy a little more than the others: West Virginia's next Senate President.

AP Photo / Alex Brandon

Sen.  Joe Manchin is attempting to put pressure on Congressional leaders in Washington to take quick action on a bill to save the healthcare and pension benefits of thousands of coal miners. 

Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography


In West Virginia politics over the past decade, one trend gets a lot of attention: the trend from blue to red. More statewide and federal offices in West Virginia are held by Republicans after this year’s election than have been in decades.

 

But there’s another trend-- one that can be seen nationwide--that’s also apparent in West Virginia elections.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Board of Education has approved the final grades for public schools across the state under a new accountability system. 

The state Board has been working since 2013 to create and implement the new school accountability system after a legislative directive and urging from Gov. Tomblin. It gives schools a grade of A through F so that parents can more easily understand how their child’s school is doing.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislative Photography

State agencies will experience mid-year budget cuts for the second year in a row as West Virginia tax collections continue to come in below estimates. 

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced the 2 percent, across-the-board cuts for state agencies in a press release Tuesday. 

Photo courtesy of Office of the Governor

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced Tuesday the expansion of a North Central West Virginia facility expected to bring new jobs to the area. 

Tomblin joined Bombardier Commercial Aircraft officials to announce plans to expand the Bridgeport aircraft service center. The facility currently employs around 400 people, but will double in size once the expansion project begins in the spring of 2017.

Photo courtesy of Office of the Governor

Another 8 mile section of Corridor H is officially open for traffic today after a ribbon cutting ceremony in Tucker County.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin was joined by U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox and others as they cut the blue ribbon stretched across the roadway. 

On a special episode on Viewpoint, the 2016 General Election results are in, but what do they mean for West Virginians today and into the future?

Conservative columnist Laurie Lin, of WVPB's The Front Porch, and West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy's Ted Boettner join host Ashton Marra to discuss the race for governor and the challenges Democrat Jim Justice will face, particularly with the budget, when he takes office in January. 

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office is preparing for any potential voting issues that may arise on Election Day while tallying one of the highest early voting turnouts on record.

The Secretary of State's Office says more than 140,000 people have cast ballots early this year. The early voting period began on October 26 and runs through Saturday, November 5. 

With just days left in the 2016 election cycle, more than 140,000 West Virginians have already cast their ballots, but the candidates at all levels are still working to get your vote.

Tyler Evert / Associated Press


When it comes to traditional Democratic politicians, Jim Justice is likely not the first person who comes to mind for many.

West Virginia Legislative Photography/maryanncalytor.com

Long-time Democratic state auditor Glen Gainer announced in 2015 that he would not seek re-election this year and in the spring, stepped down from his post 8 months before the end of his term.

With a wide open seat, a politically connected Republican and an underdog Democrat have traveled West Virginia rounding up support for their candidacies, but the election marks the first time in 40 years someone with the last name of Gainer will not be elected to the office.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

About a year after Gov. Tomblin announced he would spend his last year in office focused on an economic development project on a former mountaintop removal mine site, the project itself has its first investor and a new name.

Tomblin announced in a press conference at the Capitol Thursday that the former Hobet mine site would become the Rock Creek Development Park.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In the first day of early voting, the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office says 24, 251 people have cast their ballots at polling places across the state.

Early voting began Wednesday and lasts through Saturday November 5. Polling sites will be open Saturday, October 29, as well.

West Virginia Attorney General's Office, West Virginia Legislative Services

If you’ve turned on a local commercial TV or radio station in the past few weeks, then you probably already know that the race for Attorney General is pretty heated.

Republican-incumbent Patrick Morrisey is up for re-election this year after considering and ultimately passing on a bid for governor. Morrisey is taking on Democratic Delegate Doug Reynolds, a Huntington attorney who also owns media and construction companies.

Both have been on the attack in a race that some polls show is too close to call just two weeks away from Election Day.

Voters in 27 states will cast their ballots for state Supreme Court justices when they head to the polls in November. In West Virginia, voters made their choice for the high court in May, something new for the state this election cycle, but a study from the Brennan Center for Justice says there is something else that was noteworthy about what happened in that primary.  

Anne Li reports, researchers are looking to West Virginia to prove that outside money really can sway a race.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia high school students have achieved the state’s highest graduation rate on record. 

During the 2015-2016 school year, West Virginia graduated 89.8 percent of its high school seniors.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jury selection begins Tuesday in Charleston in the class-action lawsuit against a chemical company and a water utility. 

The trial over a 2014 chemical spill that resulted in the contamination of more than 300,000 people’s drinking water is set to begin this week. 

Energy and health care. They’re the two issues in the presidential race that could have the greatest impact on West Virginians.

On this week's Viewpoint, we look at where the Democrat Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand on the two issues with a report from The Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier and an interview with Kara Lofton, West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Appalachia Health New Coordinator. 

Jim Justice and Bill Cole
Tyler Evert / AP Photo

After an NPR investigation into Jim Justice’s business operations, the Democratic candidate for governor takes on Republican Bill Cole in the second West Virginia gubernatorial debate.

A leaked tape where Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump can be heard describing sexually assaulting women causes waves in West Virginia politics, but will either scandal swing the vote? 

Ann Ali, managing editor of the State Journal, and MetroNews Statewide Correspondent Brad McElhinney join us to discuss the race. 

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