Monday, June 5, 2017


Voters in the Virginia 56th General Assembly have a gracious plenty of candidate choices in the June 13 primary. This is a nice change from the last six years when republican Peter Farrell ran with no opposition. Farrell announced that he would step down earlier this year.

Two democrats: Lizzie M. Drucker-Basch,,; and Melissa M. Dart; and six republicans: Matt C. Pinsker,,; Graven W. Craig,,; George S. Goodwin,; Surya P. Dhakar,,; John J. McGuire III,; and J. F. "Jay" Prendergast,,, threw their hats into the electoral ring.

On Saturday, June 3, the second tri-partisan candidate forum took place at Goochland High School. This is the second time that county democrats, republicans, and Tea Partiers collaborated to stage an event to help citizens become informed voters. This is yet another example of Goochlanders coming together for the good of all.

For three hours, those in attendance listened to each candidate explain their make their case for election.

Each of these people are to be commended for taking time from busy schedules to run for office. Gathering signatures to secure a place on the ballot(no dancing allowed) is just the first step. Raising money, getting endorsements, and meeting voters are all part of the process. We have them to thank for a choice at the polls.

Six of the eight—all but Louisa residents Craig and Goodwin—candidates live in western Henrico, which a few contended is just a “stone’s throw” from Goochland. Perhaps geographically, but maybe not attitudinally.

Most began their remarks by declaring fealty to their party’s philosophy, either conservative, liberal, or progressive, in broad terms that promise a better Commonwealth. They were gracious and cordial to each other.

The order in which the candidates spoke was determined by lot. Following are a few thumbnail impressions, please visit websites and Facebook pages for details. All candidates welcome email questions. Don’t be shy, they want your vote, make them earn it.

Matt Pinsker is a Henrico attorney who also serves in the Army Reserve Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. He teaches criminal justice and Homeland Security courses at VCU. He believes that illegal immigration is illegal and should not be tolerated.
(Some of Goochland’s large horse and other farms may employ illegal aliens who, some contend, live otherwise productive and blameless lives, and should not be penalized for their immigration status.)
Matt Pinsker

He supports law enforcement and authored a textbook used in police academies. Pinsker said that cable companies should be encouraged to expand in Goochland, he seemed unaware that Comcast is not inclined to do so and there are no other options. He believes that there are steps that can be taken to prevent opioid overdoses, but was a tad short on details.

Dr. Surya Dhakar is Henrico dentist whose policies include: abolition of the state income tax; removal of burdensome regulations on small business; and promotion of policies that build strong families and safe communities. He wants to end welfare and Medicaid abuse, which, he contended, is an incentive for children to have babies to get bigger checks. Though pro-life, he was short on details about how to discourage underage procreation.
Dr. Surya Dhakar

He said that Goochland is well run and said he would support making broadband a utility.

Melissa Dart, a Henrico health care administration professional, said she is a proud Progressive who supports Medicaid expansion in Virginia. She is concerned that dollars are being taken out of the public education budget. Dart would reverse the decline of Virginia’s ranking as a good place to do business by lowering the entry barriers for new businesses, which she vaguely described with standard buzzwords. Dart believes that “a broader conversation” is needed to address the illegal alien/sanctuary city issue. Melissa Dart

She believes that public/private partnerships are useful in broadband expansion, which is far more important than a means to play video games. Good education benefits everyone, she said. However, she seemed unaware of the current excellence of Goochland Schools, citing her endorsement by Bud Cothern, who was superintendent here about 15 years ago during the bad old days.

Lizzie Drucker-Basch runs a small business that deals with historic renovation. This provides her with first-hand knowledge of dealing with local government. She too supports the use of public private partnerships to expand broadband and find new ways to get this “educational and economic imperative” done. Lizzie Drucker-Basch

Drucker-Basch believes that the challenges facing the Commonwealth cannot get done in soundbites. “We have to focus on what we have in common, and how we get there,” she said. Drucker-Basch believes that Virginia does not spend nearly enough on education. She believes that teachers need the freedom to find new ways to engage children, energize the creativity of teachers, and not teach to the test. We’re pretty much doing that in Goochland.

George Goodwin of Louisa worked in the General Assembly with Tom Garrett, who was succeeded last January in the State Senate by Mark Peake. Goodwin contended that his legislative experience makes him the best choice to effectively represent Goochland in Richmond. George Goodwin

Goodwin was the first to mention that Virginia is a Dillion Rule state, which means that localities have only those powers ceded to them by the state. He said he knows how to identify unintended consequences of legislation, especially those that result in unfunded mandates that burden places like Goochland. Goodwin said that if elected, he will proposed legislation to fix the poorly drafted proffer law hurriedly passed two years ago that has thrown a monkey wrench into land use issues in many jurisdictions. He said that reducing the state workforce through attrition and combining overlapping agencies like the Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Environmental Resources will save money.

John McGuire of Henrico is a former Navy SEAL, fittingly nicknamed “Pitbull”. Though small in stature his character and personal ethos looms large. McGuire started a small business, SEAL Team PT and wants to remove burdensome regulations that hamper business formation. Declaring himself a uniter, McGuire pledged to bring disparate sides together for the benefit of citizens. He wants to reduce taxes and increase support for law enforcement and first responders.

McGuire said that the state certificate of public need (COPN) policy currently in place hampers expansion of health care services to rural areas like Goochland and stifles competition, which increases cost.
John McGuire

McGuire said that education should be the number one priority for the state, but that not everyone needs to go to college. Career and technical education, like that offered in Goochland, should be an alternate path to personal success.

Jay Prendergast of Henrico seems like a really nice guy with good intentions. He supports conservative values and pledges to work hard in the General Assembly for his constituents. While he seemed a bit uninformed about Goochland—except that it may be the most talented baseball county in America—Prendergast pledged, if elected, to attend local government meetings and become very knowledgeable about Goochland to serve its citizens better.
Jay Prendergast

Louisa County attorney Graven Craig began his remarks with silence in honor of slain Virginia State Police Special Agent Mike Walter. He then declared his
conservative values especially the belief that “the free market system, the greatest creator of wealth the world has ever known,” provides the opportunity for everyone to prosper. While Craig supports efforts of localities to expand broadband coverage to all residents, he rejects the use of public private partnerships. These arrangements, said Craig, give public funds to private business and essentially let government pick winners and losers.

Craig mentioned the deadly conditions at the Rt. 288/Broad Street Road intersection where VDOT has approved, funded, and “fast tracked” improvements that may not be made until 2121. He pledged to address the matter if elected.
Graven Craig

Craig too opposes unfunded mandates. He believes that each jurisdiction should have the power to make its own land use decisions. His approach to keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them is simple: enforce the laws already on the books because we have to protect our law enforcement officers.

Craig said that a big part of the opioid addiction problem is over prescribing.

This is a smattering of impressions of three hours of comments by eight people committed to their interpretation of good government.

Please check them out and cast your vote for one on June 13.

The tri-partisan group— a three cornered hat would be a good logo—is hoping to hold a statewide candidate forum in September, stay tuned.

1 comment:

Pat said...

Thanks for those thumbnail sketches, Sandy. I fully intended to attend, and got caught up with chores, completely forgetting about it till it was too late.

If the vote were to be settled by the number of political flyers, Craig would have already won. Enough already!

The good news is that more people are getting involved in government; the bad news - finding the time to figure out who represents one's views the best. Thanks for the web addresses.