Statements on Issues
Support first-class education environment for all children. One of the most important investments we can make is in our children. They deserve a first class education to better prepare them for their future, beginning with the reform of our standards of learning (SOL) evaluation. Students should be taught to interact with the subject matter with critical thinking skills rather than just memorize for a test. Undue stress is put on our children at a very early age, learning to despise school, and affecting their health.
Increase local control of schools. Those who dictate how our schools will be funded and managed—local school and county boards—must be accountable directly to the citizens in each school district. This is especially necessary for funding as we must review and adjust how our schools are funded.
Make higher education more accessible and affordable for all. The pathway to a stable career starts well before high school graduation. We must create more opportunities for students to gain college credits in high school. For some students, learning a trade is more suitable, therefore we should offer such training beginning in high school, even offering certifications to help them begin their careers.
Boost opportunities in our community college system. We can strengthen and expand our community college system to include more vocational training and post-high school certification while assisting other students to begin their academic journey before advancing to four-year institutions.
Nurture our thriving agri-business by supporting future farmers and agri-preneuers. For those wanting a future in the agriculture business, we should provide incentives to do so and offer education in 21st-century techniques. We should provide innovation for future careers with an economic philosophy that I call “eco-conservatism”. This is the practice of job creation, with successful small businesses, while using our resources wisely, securing the future.
Family farms need to be protected from excessive regulations. Direct-to-consumer sales must be encouraged and supported. Consumers should have the freedom to choose where they obtain food for their families and to know their farmer.
Purchasing milk from your neighbor should not be illegal. Instead, we should think twice about farming in a way that makes us sick from excessive use of chemicals. Programs that incentivize and train farmers to transition from farming that pollutes to environmentally-friendly methods should be a priority of our Agricultural Extension offices and VDACS.
The issue of building a vibrant local food and agriculture economy intersects with our education platform. Landowners will soon be aging out of farming. Adult children have chosen career tracks outside of agriculture. They are not returning to the family farms after college. This could leave a void that young people could fill to ensure a continuity in food production for our state and nation.
Nurture our agri-business by supporting future farmers and agri-preneuers. District 18 is ideally located for agriculture education and farm-to-school programs. The Northern Piedmont area is full of wonderful independently-owned farms that are opportunities for schools to collaborate with for hands-on learning. Including the Fauquier Education Farm, run by Jim Hankins, where labor is done by volunteers and all crops are donated to food bank programs. If programs do not exist or are inadequate, we would first look at funding, but equally at the fact that teachers must teach to SOL, rather than skill-based learning and applications and seek actionable solutions.
For those wanting a future in the agriculture business, we should provide incentives to do so and offer education in regenerative, 21st-century techniques. We should provide innovative programs for future careers with an economic philosophy called “eco-conservatism”. This is the practice of job creation, with successful small businesses, while using our resources wisely, securing the future.
We need programs linking landowners with young people interested in leasing land and solutions for start-up assistance. A significant purpose of encouraging agricultural education and vocational tracks is to increase access to fresh foods in both rural and urban areas. Specialized schools in rural areas could teach regenerative agriculture practices for land that has been overworked for monoculture, to support the creation of more diversified farms.
Options in agricultural education programs should have the tracks that teach hydroponics, roof-top and vertical agriculture and other innovative solutions that can be used to increase access to fresh foods to urban and low income areas.
Children should have the opportunity to learn self-sufficiency skills and vocations. This means all ages getting involved in gardening at the school, in age-appropriate and lesson-linked ways. From seed to harvest to plate. Learning about food safety and sanitation, how to prepare and preserve real foods, and links between food and the land. Students should see a hen lay an egg, so they make the connection that their food comes from other living creatures, not a carton from the store. Older children may even be given the option to butcher chickens on a nearby farm, what better way to learn about biology?
They should be exposed to garden tools, landscape equipment and know what projects require a hammer and nails and which require a screw gun and screws. They should know how to collect and purify water in an emergency. Basic first-aid and how to sew. All genders should be offered these skills and students should have opportunities for vocational paths.
Schools, if they aren't already, should be working closely with Virginia Cooperative Extension agencies and VDACS for self-sufficiency, health and nutrition education and agricultural programming.
Food Access, Vulnerable Populations and Correctional Vocational Training. Often, the most vulnerable people receive the least nutritious food, due to accessibility challenges and high cost; children in poverty, people hospitalized, elderly in long-term care, and incarcerated populations. These groups need nutritious, fresh food for development, longevity and recovery and rehabilitation. However, they tend to receive pre-packaged, low- nutritional, mass produced, convenience foods.
Regenerative agriculture programs could also be expanded in state low-security correctional facilities as rehabilitation, reform and re-entry skills training. At risk people could learn a trade and self-sufficiency skills. The fruits of their labor can be used in the meal plans or be marketed to create income for the incarcerated.
Community Planning and Development. Tax incentives for developers and localities who are willing to invest in diversified farms, agricultural activities, to promote more agri-hoods, productive conservation, community-supported agriculture and community food co-operatives.
Schools, correctional facilities, hospitals and long-term care homes funded by state should have support sourcing from local farms and be encouraged to engage in public-private partnerships to increase distribution to these facilities. School budgets, healthcare and correctional workers should allow for compensation to include reimbursement for participating in community-supported agriculture.
Support agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs). Agriculture is the cornerstone of the Virginia economy yet the state is not doing enough to promote or protect it. Agricultural BMPs will ease restrictions and provide farmers more freedom to succeed. An example of this would be introducing incentives for nutrient management programs, pasture-based rotational grazing of livestock, species bio-diversity on livestock farms and regenerative practices that reduce the amount of toxic, endocrine disrupting chemical herbicides and pesticides entering our food system, either directly or through grains fed to livestock.
Ensure that extension agencies are educating farmers about BMP and presenting both organic and chemical-based growing methods.
Wildlife Management. Do wildlife populations continue to increase or are they re-adapting by feeding on livestock, moving into suburbs and finding their way into urban areas because of habitat destruction due to monoculture agriculture?
Diverse farms provide ecological food-chain balance and produce food with nature not against nature. Setting aside at least ten percent, preferably more, of farming acreage for maintaining riparian areas, preserving wooded lines between fields, planting native flowers and grasses to build habitats for small animals and increase pollinators will restore balance and increase yields of produce.
General Assembly should be allocating Ag and Forestry funds and earmarking an adequate percentage to educate farmers on building diversity in their crops and natural landscapes, grants for predator deterrent fencing; such as electric netting for rotational grazing. Humane removal, relocation or euthanasia of proven problem animals only (not indiscriminate euthanasia) should be legal. Farmers should not be punished for protecting livestock, but total eradication and bounties of predators are unnecessary. Many predators are territorial; non-problem animals should be left in place to deter potentially problem animals. Any laws and regulations should be evidence based, with wildlife scientists consulted and should not place undue burdens on farmers.
Encourage industrial hemp production and renewable energy. We have the vision and foresight to work hard in cultivating new industry in our district. All parts of the hemp plant can be used to manufacture marketable products. Farmers can get paid for multiple raw products from one crop. Hemp has tens of thousands of uses from food to biodegradable plastic and fuel. It can feed us, clothe us, fuel us, house us and has the potential to heal us. There is a high demand for organic hemp products in the US for the health food and supplement industries, which can bring farmers higher prices than commodity corn or soy.
Industrial hemp (vahemp.org) is a miracle plant that should be alongside our more well-known crops. This plant can take a struggling property of 10 acres or more and turn it into a thriving farm with a lucrative crop. It requires no pesticides, it self-composts, does not require rotation of fields, yields two harvests per year and creates jobs as it increases the need for an expanded workforce in agriculture, manufacturing and new technologies.
We need to work closely with VDACS and Virginia agricultural extension programs to prepare to teach farmers about the opportunities in industrial hemp production and help them get started when licensing applications are open to farmers. Form partnerships with states that are ahead of Virginia in this re-emerging industry to reach markets, processing facilities, growing methods and to meet supply and demand.
We see the revival of hemp and renewable energy as opportunities to revitalize manufacturing districts, create jobs and bring prosperity to our farmers, artisans and small businesses. North Carolina is an example of a Conservative state that is investing in solar to create jobs and reduce energy expenses for citizens and utilizing underutilized tracts of land for solar energy collection and storage.
Policies that encourage increased renewable energy infrastructure and assistance for businesses and individual homeowners to make energy-efficient upgrades can reduce operating costs and lower energy bills. Transitioning our district to renewable energy can also create job opportunities for installers, construction and retro-fitting.
Remove burdensome regulatory barriers. Excessive regulations cost local small businesses and farms millions of dollars per year, and agriculture is one of the hardest hit. Simply put, we need to make it easier, not harder, to get food from the farm to the table.
Size of the farm, whether measured by acreage or head of livestock, should not be the factor in how an agricultural enterprise is regulated. Both independently owned small family farms selling direct to consumers and farms of large tracts of land contracting with regional and national suppliers deserve prosperity.
We should be looking at the environmental impact of the modes of production. How far removed from nature are the growing practices? Quoting the folks at the Rodale Institute, "Healthy soil = healthy food = healthy people." How much chemical residue and unusually high concentrations of animal feces leeching into waterways? What is the air quality around concentrated animal feeding operations? Or are the animals being kept outside? Allowed to forage? Spreading manure evenly across the landscape? Is the farm multi-species and have a diversity in the crops planted or is the farm a mono-culture that requires multiple chemical inputs? Small, independently-owned, environmentally-friendly farms should be allowed to sell any product, safely-made, direct to consumer. The consumer should have the right to choose to purchase from a small farm or value-added artisan that they can visit and speak directly to the people who have grown or produced the food.
The state could further incentivize the transition to regenerative practices and an emphasis on marketing support for those practices. Rather than focusing our ag industry on exports, we could be creating a more diverse, healthful, accessible and affordable food system in Virginia and become a model for other states.
We do not have a world hunger crisis. We have skewed priorities in distribution and a food system removed from nature. We produce grain to feed livestock that are designed to eat grass. We feed fish meal from highly nutritious fish species to farm-raised fish. Farm-raised fish are turned into live-stock feed additives (again to livestock that are supposed to forage and hunt on pasture and woodland). Livestock and poultry are crowded in warehouses and waste pools are spilling over into waterways and air quality issues are making people sick. Wholesome grains and wild-caught fish could be feeding people in food insecure areas, rather than livestock designed to graze, peck and root outside.
Support a transition to renewable energy. We should be fully engaged in the protection of our environment and natural resources. I will be a leader in the transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy. I will oppose any new pipelines or any fracking. We will protect our state and national parks, our waterways and our biodiversity with the protection of our endangered species.
Provide tax credits for eco-friendly vehicles, home investments. Reducing CO2 levels is critical to protecting our environment, and automobiles are a primary source. To combat this I will introduce legislation that offers tax credits for the purchase of electric and hybrid cars. We will also offer incentives to both businesses and individual home owners for the installation of solar systems.
Invest in infrastructure to support renewable energy. We will need to be innovative in preparing for the future. I will work with local officials to install solar powered charging stations throughout the district, taking advantage of existing locations, such as rest stops and commuter lots, where possible. Such projects not only lay the foundation for a sustainable future but they also create jobs for our local workforce.
Protect our water supply against pollution and over-use. We must be diligent in our protection of water. We must assure that lakes, rivers, and streams, as well as groundwater, are not being polluted and that there is an adequate supply for our residents.
Protect property owners’ rights. While the protection of the rights of property owners is important, the rights of neighbors are as well. With every right comes responsibility. We should all be free to utilize our property as we choose, but not to the point it affects someone else’s property.
Support local businesses with our wallets. We must be fully engaged in the promotion of buying at local businesses and eating locally grown foods. On average 48% of money spent at a local business returns directly into the local economy, compared to only 13% spent outside a locality. We need to return to a Main St over Wall St economy.
Support local businesses with our laws. We will work to ease the burdens on the starting of a new business with less restrictive regulations, most of which are designed to benefit the larger out-of-town businesses. The same will be done for existing small businesses to help them succeed, as half of the private-sector jobs in Virginia are generated by small businesses.
Provide training and other assistance to support our workforce. As the economy evolves, the labor force changes. We must support job-training to help those in industries that are declining or being automated.
Increase infrastructure investment. Businesses looking to locate in Virginia will need roads, bridges, utilities and even broadband. Providing these bolsters our region’s appeal to companies while providing local jobs.
Expand healthcare options for all citizens. Access to healthcare should be a right of citizenship. Medical treatment should not be limited to the privileged. One out of every seven people in the 18th district has no health insurance. The under-insured and those with unaffordable coverage is staggering.
Expand Medicaid. The expansion of Medicaid as it presently stands is both a good business decision as well as a moral one. Virginians have this money withdrawn from their paychecks to pay for it, and have been for years. Even at the 10% liability to the state, the increased revenues and job creation will add more to the state budget than the cost. This is certainly not the long-term solution for healthcare, but rather an immediate stop gap that would benefit 2,600 district residents and should be done. “Obamacare” was not the answer, and the proposed “Trumpcare” is even worse. If the Congress is not willing, or able, to address this crisis then we, as Virginians must. I am prepared to lead the way on this, looking at what other states are doing.
Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Proposed in 1923, the ERA’s current proposed language calls for women to have “equal rights in the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction,” and says these rights “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Virginia is one of 15 states that have not ratified the proposed amendment, meaning our leaders have actively refused to codify that women and men are equal partners in society, in business and in government. I will be a leader toward the ratification of the ERA.
All humans are entitled to rights that are inalienable to all of us regardless of nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. All of humanity is entitled to these basic human rights without discrimination. The following are examples of these rights and are interrelated, interdependent and indivisible:
- The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
- The right to live your life free of discrimination
- The right to control what happens to your own body and to make medical decisions for yourself
- The right to freely exercise your religion and practice your religious beliefs without fear of being prosecuted or discriminated against for your beliefs
- The right to be free from prejudice on the basis of race, gender, national origin, color, age or sex
- The right to grow old with dignity
- The right to a fair trial and due process of the law
- The right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment
- The right to be free from torture
- The right to be free from slavery
- The right to freedom of speech
- The right to freely associate with whomever you like and to join groups of which you'd like to be a part.
- The right to freedom of thought
- The right not to live in poverty, to have enough to eat
- The right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
- The right to bear arms and to not have the government infringe unduly on that right
- The right to regular and affordable health insurance
Support sensible gun-ownership rights. As a veteran, a former law enforcement officer, and a gun owner, I fully support the 2nd Amendment. I do, however, believe that there are circumstances whereby someone should not have access to guns. We must exercise common sense in all of our rights.