by Nora Edinger
CHARLESTON -- Grafton native Chip Slaven developed an unusual addiction during his frat-pack days at West Virginia University -- politics.
Some of his fraternity brothers were involved in student politics and introduced Slaven to the joys of leadership. One of them additionally introduced him to then-U.S. Rep. Bob Wise -- and his career path to being special assistant to Wise's chief of staff began.
"Every now and then there's some little thing you can do that can make a difference; you can win a battle," Slaven said of the constituent-service that inspired him to take on a job that sometimes keeps him in the office until 1:30 a.m.
Such work wasn't always in his plan, however.
"I had some interest in politics in high school," said Slaven, whose family owned and operated the former Malone's Drug Store in downtown Grafton until the mid-1980s.
"I thought I would go on to law school. Then, I did an internship for then-Rep. Wise while in college.
"I remember coming back from the internship thinking, 'Boy, that was fun but I wouldn't want to do what they do. That was hard.'"
In spite of his initial reluctance, Slaven wound up working for Wise full-time soon after graduation. By 1992, he had moved to the Eastern Panhandle to set up a new office needed because of congressional redistricting.
"I had an office/apartment with an extra room for him to spend the night," Slaven said of introducing Wise to that region in what became a precursor to a gubernatorial campaign.
"I just started showing up at things and he'd come over every couple of weeks. By the time the election came, they were comfortable with him."
When Wise began his gubernatorial run, Slaven moved to Charleston to help with fund-raising and then to serve as campaign finance director. His gubernatorial appointment came soon after the election.
Now, the 32-year-old handles issues that involve other states, specifically working with the non-partisan National Governors' Association. He also oversees administrative details for more than 200 governor-appointed boards and commissions.
"I can't think of a nicer place to live," he said of the opportunity to work at a high political level without leaving the state.
He especially enjoys it when he gets to travel with Wise through Taylor County.
"I grew up here and I want to make the state a better place."
Slaven is unmarried. His parents, Maynard and Marcia, still live in Grafton. His brother, Michael, and his family live in Morgantown.
Regional editor Nora Edinger can be reached at 626-1403 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.