Democrat Jonathan McGrady, Republican Jeff Campbell and Independent Barbara Hall are vying for the 6th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, which was previously held by Annie B. Crockett-Stark. In today’s edition of The Carroll News, McGrady and Campbell answer questions submitted by staff writers. Their answers are followed by a question and answer session with Hall.
If elected, what specific issues in Carroll County would you address?
McGrady - First and foremost, I intend to fight to create new jobs and save the jobs we have by keeping the Soutwestern VA Training Center open. It was the first place I visited when I began my campaign in March. Having lived in Carroll County my whole life, I know how important the training center is to the thousands of residents it has served through the years and the hundreds of dedicated employees that work there. Additional parts of my job plan include: recruiting new business to fill our empty buildings at the Carroll Industrial Park and helping land a mega business at Exit 19 Wildwood Park. To do this, we need to make sure that local businesses get the first crack at state contracts so our tax dollars create jobs here- not in China or Mexico, fight for incentives to encourage businesses to locate here, cut taxes on small businesses, and crack down on price gauging by Appalachian Power which keeps businesses from locating here and forces many families to choose between heating and eating. Second, I will fight to make sure we get our fair share from Richmond and that our schools are fully funded from the state without having to pass the buck to local taxpayers. Third, I will fight to preserve the family farm and cut red tape and regulations on agri-businesses so they can grow and prosper. I am proud to have the endorsement of both the Virginia Farm Bureau and Virginia Education Association. Fourth, I will stand up for our way of life and protect our 2nd Amendment rights.
Campbell - Carroll County suffers from a shortage of good paying, stable jobs. We must to more to recruit new jobs, protect existing jobs and improve the overall economic health in Carroll. I intend to propose legislation that would better position the local Boards of Supervisors to engage in industrial recruitment and economic development by providing discretionary funds that are currently beyond the reach of the rural counties in Southwest Virginia outside of the coalfields. I will work to protect and enhance the existing small business climate by reducing regulation and limiting taxation. Finally, I pledge to be a strong salesman for the 6th District in attracting new business investment and promoting our existing businesses globally.
Do you think a change in the personal income tax and corporate income tax would create economic growth, and what would you do to bring jobs to Southwest VA?
McGrady - I believe that anytime folks have more money in their pocket then they are likely to spend that money on goods, homes, services, etc. which encourages economic growth. Reducing corporate income tax can lead to job creation. I think that we have to balance reducing these taxes with the reality that it costs money to maintain roads, provide good schools, and maintain the greatest armed forces in the world. Please see my comprehensive answer on jobs above.
Campbell – No reply given.
Do you support funding private or charter schools, and what would you do to increase the quality of education in public schools?
McGrady - I come from a family of teachers. My grandmother, mother, and wife were all teachers and I used to substitute teach. I strongly believe that public schools made this country the greatest in the world and I will never support diverting one dollar from public education to a private or charter school. We need to fully fund our schools and make sure that our kids have the same quality of schools as the kids in Northern Virginia. Our kids deserve to have the same opportunities and it is time for the politicians in Richmond to know that the state does not end in Roanoke. I also favor smaller class sizes and repealing the standards of learning tests that costs taxpayers over 28 million dollars a year and has not benefited our kids.
Campbell - While I fully support opportunities for private and alternative educational choice for parents, I do not support the concept of funding private institutions with taxpayer dollars. However, I do support the concept of providing tax credits for parents who choose an alternative education for their children. Our public school systems should be properly funded for optimal operation and I believe that we need to seriously evaluate the continuation of the Standards of Learning testing program that has become the primary focus of academics in our public schools. Children are being tested too often and across too many areas. The enormous pressure to meet these demands has led to a diminution in the quality of the educational experience for the children. Teachers no longer have enough classroom time to give attention to the children that need it most. The demands to cover the testing objectives have destroyed the flexibility for educators to teach children the process of how to learn.
Do you favor or oppose the more restrictive regulations that have been placed on abortion clinics?
McGrady - I am a father of three children and greatly value life. Virginia has some of the most restrictive regulations on abortion clinics in the United States and I would not change the existing regulations.
Campbell - I am pro-life and support the policies that abortion should only be legal in cases of rape, incest or to protect the health of the mother. I personally believe that abortions should be conducted only in hospitals under the direction of medical doctors. Accordingly, I believe that abortion clinics should meet the same standards as any other clinic performing surgery in the interests of protecting the public health.
Do you favor or oppose Virginia legalizing gay marriage?
McGrady - I oppose gay marriage and believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Campbell - I oppose the legalization of gay marriage in Virginia and, unlike my opponent, have never contributed politically or financially to the campaign of anyone who believes otherwise.
Do you support the Environmental Protection Agency’s new emission requirements for coal-fired plants?
McGrady - No. Coal is vital to Southwest Virginia and the United States as a whole. It has been important to the history of Carroll County going back to George L. Carter who hired many people from Carroll to work during the depression including two of my great-great uncles. The new emission standards harm the coal industry and cost jobs. I am proud to have as one of my first and biggest supporters Hill’s Coal and Trucking Company which is one of the largest coal suppliers in this region.
Campbell - The EPA’s new carbon-emission regulations under the Obama administration will result, invariably, in the shuttering of hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the country. The impact on Southwest Virginia will be absolutely devastating in as much as 65 percent of the jobs in our area are coal dependent or coal related. The residual impact on our economy may well be immeasurable through job loss, business closures and stratospheric electric rates. The regulations are ill-conceived and unsupported by sound science and it is incumbent on the General Assembly to devise ways to oppose the implementation of these regulations or to substantially reduce the impact of them.
Do you think lawmakers should be allowed to accept gifts?
McGrady – No. The influence of gifts in politics must come to an end and I will support legislation to stop this practice.
Campbell - In a word, “No.”
Q&A Session with Barbara Hall
1. WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR OFFICE?
District 6 is at a crossroad. Will we take the path that leads to a more prosperous future? There is restlessness, an insistent tugging on my heart that told me there were areas where I could contribute. It was time to buck up or stay in the truck. I am an everyday American with traditional values and a common sense, compassionate conservative. I was raised to believe that anyone can make a difference. I feel my status as an ordinary American is a much needed breath of fresh air. True public service is about crafting policies that are good for the people. As an Independent candidate I will be listened to as an individual, not a politician. As delegate, I want to be the lion’s voice for District 6.
2. HOW WILL YOU CREATE AND MAINTAIN A COMPETITIVE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT IN VIRGINIA AND BRING JOBS TO THE DISTRICT?
Our future depends on building an economy capable of sustaining the kinds of good paying jobs that allow families to get ahead, and we need to fight to keep the ones we already have. We must continue to invest in the things that can create jobs. We must make new investments to prepare for our economic future and lessen our overreliance on federal jobs and contracts.
My plan is a simple one. Eliminate onerous regulations and only implement smart, cost effective regulations. Entice businesses to come here and create well paying high skilled jobs and leverage the talents of our people. We have to start somewhere. One place to start is to market our empty buildings and vacant land to businesses with visual tours and photographs marketing the existing infrastructure our area offers.
Let’s start by preparing an inventory of empty buildings/land, create a website, and link it to the IDA website in Richmond. Let’s work together for new effective solutions. Join forces with retired veteran’s willing to work alongside the delegate to take photographs and stay involved. Our veterans should be treated as leaders and assets to our community.
But also, give the private sector the tools and training they need to succeed. After all, small businesses are the backbone of our economy.
3. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE SCHOOL BOARDS ACROSS THE STATE TO REVAMP THE VIRGINIA’S SOL TEST AND ACCREDITATION?
First, tomorrow’s good jobs start with today’s good teachers. We should reward teachers based upon the students’ performance. The better the student performs the more the teacher should be paid. Secondly, I feel, as so many others, we should STOP teaching to the test. There has been significant erosion in public support over the past few years for SOL’s. The more we know the less we like it! Teachers should have more freedom and flexibility in the classroom. Teacher’s need the freedom to teach as they like, more time teaching and less time leading students thru dull drills of words and numbers.
4. HOW DOES THE LEGISLATURE MEET THE NEEDS OF THE STATE’S AGING INFRASTRUCTURE AND STILL KEEP TAXES LOW ENOUGH TO MAKE THE STATE VIABLE FOR BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY.
The state brings in plenty of revenue to improve and build upon our infrastructure, without raising taxes at all. We must prioritize infrastructure in order to grow our economy and bring in new businesses.
The first tier of the I-81/77 Overlap has been approved. With this approval comes a pilot toll booth. This money should be reinvested back into District 6 to help keep taxes low and improve infrastructure.
VISIT WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.virginiadot.org/projects/bristol/I-77-81_overlap
5. SPOUSE, CHILDREN, CAREER OR JOB OR RETIRED, COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE.
My career has been an adventure; managed banks for 14 years, last 5 years at Charter Federal Savings and Loan right here in Marion. In 1998, I started First Residential Mortgage Corp, opened offices in Marion and Abingdon. In 2004 my son, Ryan Hall took over the company and First Residential Mortgage is still a driving force in the mortgage lending business. In 2005 became a realtor, 2008 a real estate broker and started Greystone Realty, Inc. where I am today.
I have been blessed with four boys, six grandchildren and all but 2 live here in Marion. All are self-employed.