Virginia needs political leaders that represent their interests. This is not possible when they take large donations and gifts from big corporations, monopolies and lobby groups. I am prepared to propose or support legislation that addresses this problem directly. As a candidate, I have pledged to support the American Anti-corruption Act and its individual components. This act fights corruption in several different ways. It introduces ranked choice voting, addresses gerrymandering of districts, initiates automatic voter registration methods, stops contributions from lobbyists, large corporate donors, and prevents big money from hiding donations behind big money groups. As your Delegate and a working class American, I pledge to fight government corruption, reject corporate donors, and work only for my constituents.
End Corporate Welfare and Support Small Businesses Instead:
Small businesses are important to Virginia’s economy, but are being placed at an unfair advantage. The Small Business Administration states that they represent 97.8 percent of all employers and 47.9 percent of the private labor force. However, Census Bureau statistics show that about three-fourths of U.S. business sectors have become more concentrated in the past 20 years. This trend drives out small businesses, destroys local economies, keeps wages low, and hinders growth and entrepreneurship.
Part of the problem here is corporate welfare to big companies. For instance, Forbes estimates that the Wal-Mart Corporation alone receives over 226 million dollars a year in tax breaks and subsidies from Virginia. At the same time most of their profit leaves the state. Meanwhile, small businesses in Virginia, who spend their profits back into our local communities, struggle with high taxes, mandatory licensing fees, payroll taxes, worker’s compensation and liability insurance, all while complying with multiple layers of governmental red tape. I believe owning a small business in Virginia should be encouraged, not punished. As a Delegate, I will support legislation that streamlines requirements for small business, lowers small business taxes, and supports local economies instead of big box retailers and monopolies.
Safe, High Quality Schools
John Adams wrote “The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves”. Like Madison, I believe that it is within our best interests to promote high quality education in our district. I will fully support our public schools, fight for higher teacher pay, increased state funding, and will reject school vouchers that would divert funds from public schools.
Supporting Adequate and Accessible Healthcare for All
Last year, Virginia’s legislature refused to accept federal funding through the ACA to expand Medicaid in Virginia. Hidden beneath typical political rhetoric was pure partisan plotting to undermine the plan and increase profits for insurance providers. Because of this decision, an estimated 400,000 Virginians were denied coverage that they otherwise could have received.
I understand that there are many opinions on the healthcare debate. However, there are many things we can all agree on. My main interest is in finding a way to provide working class people with affordable coverage. For this reason I am willing to accept suggestions from my constituents and be flexible in my approach to this issue.
Personally, I would prefer an all-inclusive system that also controls costs while providing adequate services. Studies have indicated that this, along with a strong focus on preventative care would be our best route. What we have with the ACA is an abject failure. It fails to control costs, while providing insurance companies with government subsidies and their CEO’s with Multi-million dollar bonuses.
An Anti- Pipeline promise, and the Promotion of Renewable Energy in Virginia
New jobs in renewable energy outpaced the rest of the job market by 12 percent in 2016. However, Virginia has not reaped the benefits it could from this growth. I believe most Virginians, if given the choice between heating their home with costly fossil fuels or efficient solar, would choose the solar option. I will support forward-focused legislation that provides Virginians with cleaner, cheaper renewable energy.
The Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines represent an important battle against the encroachment of our Constitutional rights. First, eminent domain should be reserved only for the benefit of the general public. Studies prove that the current proposal does not meet this requirement. It will allow Dominion to sell fracked gas to buyers overseas for huge profits, while placing most of the risk on Virginia residents, especially those in its path.
In addition to this, the MVP and ACP will drastically increase air pollution in our state at a time when we should be taking advantage of cheap, renewable energy sources. It will blast through our national forests, endangering the water supply for millions of Virginians. As a Delegate I will fight these pipelines in any way possible.
Focus on Wages and Job Creation
Though business plays a vital role in job creation, it only represents part of the equation. Without consumers to purchase goods and services business would not exist. I believe that we stimulate our economy best by promoting higher wages that give families and individuals buying power they need. One thing that we can do to increase wages is to stop giving tax breaks and subsidies to large corporations. These businesses keep wages low and export profits out of our state. I would also like to propose legislation that would give localities the right to offer higher minimum wage rates to attract workers, stimulate competition, and put more money in the pockets of working families. Currently, wages are set and restricted by the state.
Hemp Farming and Hemp Manufacturing
The demand for hemp products is high, and those who make and manufacture hemp based products here are forced to import it from out of state at a high cost. Hemp was among the first major crops in Virginia, and despite misconceptions it is not the same as marijuana. I will join the effort to promote hemp farming for several reasons. First, it sequesters carbon and rejuvenates the soil better than any other crop. It is naturally good for our soil and air. Secondly, it provides a much needed new cash crop for Virginia farmers. Finally, it opens the door for local manufacturing of products such as biodegradable hemp based plastics, clothing, pet bedding, and numerous other items.
Decriminalization and Legalization of Marijuana
Here are some things we know about marijuana. First of all, it has no serious long term side effects. Secondly, it is safer than alcohol. There are no recorded overdose deaths from marijuana. In addition, scientists have now discovered benefits to it in the treatment of a growing list of ailments. Some include PTSD, depression, insomnia, nausea, arthritis, Alzheimer's and even cancer. Studies indicate that anti-marijuana laws disproportionately affect the poor and minorities and are costly to enforce. In fact, it is estimated that the U.S. spends around 75 billion dollars each year on their "war on drugs"
It is time to stop stigmatizing marijuana use, and focus on the real crisis of opioids, methamphetamines, and prescription drug addiction in our state. I support a complete decriminalization of marijuana in Virginia and would consider taxing sales for state and local revenue. At a time when our state is facing a real crisis with drug abuse, we need to place our efforts there and not toward regulating a natural plant.
Gun Rights and Restrictions
Like most of you, I want our streets and communities to be safe. But I also want our homes and businesses to be safe, and our citizens able to defend themselves against domestic or foreign threats. I believe that the preservation of our constitutional rights is important. For this reason, I have pledged to support the rights of gun owners and fight legislation that works to keep guns out of the hands every day citizens. I will only support common sense bills that are approved by gun owners and meet Constitutional muster.