Saturday, January 7, 2017
Meet the candidates
The candidate forum held Friday night at Goochland High School was the perfect antidote for the election weary.
Local democrats, republicans, and tea partiers banded together to provide county voters with an opportunity to listen to candidates for Tuesday’s special election to fill the 22nd district seat in the Virginia State Senate left vacant by incumbent Tom Garrett’s election to the United States Congress.
Governor Terry McAuliffe called the special elections to fill vacant seats in the General Assembly for January 10, the day before the 2017 session begins. Due to electoral procedures, results of these elections will probably not be certified until after the GA gets underway, which may leave some Virginia voters, like those of us in Goochland, with no state senate representation for a while.
Be that as it may, a hearty band of citizens came out on a frosty evening as the first “snowmageddon” of 2017 headed toward the Commonwealth. They were rewarded with an up close and personal look at the candidates.
It was nice to see Goochlanders of all political stripes gather to hear the three fine men running for office make their pitch.
Please vote next Tuesday. Goochland has the reputation for being the votingest jurisdiction in Virginia; let’s keep that going. A hefty turnout will also send a clear signal to whichever candidate prevails on Tuesday that we expect to have our interests well represented in the Virginia Senate.
The underlying angst in this race is the balance of power in the state senate. If the democrats can add one seat to their column in the upper house, they will have defacto control with the tie breaker vote cast by Lt. Governor Ralph Northam, a democrat. Though the candidates vowed to work first for the good of the citizens, it’s hard to believe that partisan politics as usual will not intervene.
The candidates are Independent Joe Hines; Republican Mark Peake; and Democrat Ryant Washington.
Hines and Washington understand that the lack of high speed internet impedes school children in rural areas from competing with their more urban peers and stifles economic development. Peake dismissed the issue saying “it’s not the role of the state to provide entertainment.”
Hines, an engineer by training and temperament, also has an MBA and a stellar track record in economic development. He is a self-described conservative who wants to solve problems in the most effective and efficient way.
As an independent, he said he might not caucus with either party but rather work with all sides for outcomes most beneficial to the Commonwealth. He did not enter the race to be a spoiler, or lose. Hines said that bringing sound economic development and good jobs to the 22nd district is of utmost importance. He believes that excessive regulation is strangling the economy and depriving people of the opportunity to provide for their family and have fulfilling lives close to home, so kids have jobs to c come back to when they complete their education.
Hines said he was unfamiliar with the so-called bathroom bill that might be introduced, but did say that North Carolina’s actions cost the state a lot of money. Hines contended that it might be better to “build a few more bathrooms” than waste time and energy fighting about the matter.
He believes that the people who manage the Virginia Retirement System funds must be held accountable. Hines would have “real conversations with real people” to decide what needs to be done to maintain an acceptable level of services before making any decision on Medicare expansion.
Visit his website at http://www.joehinesforva.com/ for details.
Peake, an attorney in Lynchburg, never seems to have stopped running for the 22nd District Senate seat since he lost to Tom Garrett in the 2011 primary. His opening remarks were a typical stump speech filled with republican themes of less government; protection of second amendment rights; pro-life; and fiscal responsibility. He does not support Medicaid expansion and believes that entities like free clinics are a better way to help people who fall below the poverty level.
Peake contended that Goochland is the largest jurisdiction in the 22nd District, even though Amherst, Fluvanna, and Prince Edward counties have larger populations.
Peake declared that proffers are a matter between builders and localities even though legislation in the 2016 GA essentially gutted the practice. He did say he could not support the latest “bathroom” bill floating around the GA, but believes that you should “go to the bathroom with the parts that God gave you.” He vowed to stand fast against any efforts by Governor McAuliffe to impinge on citizens’ rights. Minimum wage jobs, said Peake, are entry level employment opportunities that lead to enhanced skills and experience that command better salaries. It is not the state’s job to set wage rates.
He supports lowering the drinking age to 19 to lessen the tendency to campus binge drinking and would like to eliminate corporate and individual income tax in favor of a sales tax.
For more details visit: http://www.peakeforsenate.com/
Democrat Ryant Washington, former Sheriff of Fluvanna County, dispensed with a formal speech and spoke “from the heart.”
His wife is the current chair of the Fluvanna County School Board, so he is very familiar with the unintended consequences of state legislation at the local level. Washington “gets’ the heartburn that unfunded mandates that run downhill from Richmond inflict on localities.
“I know what it’s like to look a deputy in the eye and tell him I have to let him go because of budget cuts,” Washington said. Having grown up in a large family headed by a single mother, Washington said he understands firsthand the importance of a secure safety net. “Some republican governors have expanded Medicare in their states. If we’re not going to do that, what are we going to do to ensure that everyone has access to healthcare?”
“Just because I’m a democrat does not mean I’ll always vote as a democrat,” he said. “I want to work together to come up with a good common result. It’s my job to make policy and see if that policy is followed. A smile is nice, but it is what’s in the heart that matters.” Washington pledged to take his passion for public service to Richmond to serve all people in the 22nd District, and always be accessible to his constituents.
Visit his website at www.washington4senate.com.