Ed. note — The Independent News asked candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to the 21st Virginia House District in the Tuesday, June 13, primary to answer questions about a range of issues. The following responses initially appeared in print on Friday, May 26. Responses to question have not been edited for grammar or style. The following responses appear in the order in which candidates appear on the ballot.
Neighborhood/community of residence & city: Kempsville area of Virginia Beach
Age on Primary Day: 48
Occupation: IT/Systems Administrator
Campaign website: Vote4TomBrock.com
Campaign email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What are your specific qualifications for this office? Over the course of my career, I have worked jobs that range from swinging a hammer on construction sites to managing some of our region’s finest restaurants and protecting computer networks for doctors and dentists. I have worked with, learned from, and led people from nearly all walks of life. The job of a Delegate is to represent their entire district, and I believe I am uniquely qualified to serve such a diverse population as the 21st District.
What, to you, is the most important local issue facing the district and how will you address it if elected? The biggest issue facing our region is unequal economic opportunity. To start, I would introduce legislation to study racial disparity in our public schools and in the way contracts are awarded by cities.
Will you advocate for state support to local education efforts, including higher education? How so? Absolutely. Some candidates are calling for public school dollars to be redirected to private and religious schools that are not held to the same standards as public schools. In pure economic terms, taking one dollar away from public schools lowers property values by two dollars. I believe our children deserve a world class education, and our teachers deserve a fair wage. The state needs to return to funding higher education in a serious way so that college and job training programs are affordable to all.
What priorities do you have that will help support the agriculture community? Please be specific about how you will work on issues impacting this industry. Environmental protection and conservation is critical to my platform. Issues surrounding agricultural runoff and specifically the use of agricultural sludge as it pertains to runoff will be a priority due to our proximity to the Chesapeake Bay.
Do you support the ability of local governments to tax and create appropriate local zoning laws governing rentals of homes and apartments through digital platforms such as Airbnb, such as efforts in the recent session? Why or why not? Yes. Local government should be allowed to be flexible in serving the desires of their constituents. They should be able to set up regulations as they see fit, so long as they do not discriminate against anyone.
Do you support state funding to help localities pay for purchase of development rights programs meant to ensure farmland remains productive in rural areas? Please explain why or why not. This is a complex question that I have not explored fully. Protecting working families is my priority so any decisions that I would make on this issue would have to protect farmers and their livelihood.
Do you support access to reproductive care for women? Why or why not? Give an example of legislation you might support or oppose on this issue. Women should have full access to every legal means of healthcare, including reproductive health. Recent attempts by the General Assembly to shut down women’s health clinics are shameful, as were attempts to establish a “Day of Tears” to shame women who use safe, legal methods to terminate pregnancy. I would be proud to be a brick wall against that sort of shenanigans.
How will you work in the Virginia General Assembly to help coastal communities address issues such as sea level rise or impacts on natural resources? The first step in this process is to admit that global climate change is causing sea levels to rise. I would like to give our state universities the authority and resources to become global leaders in the research and development studying the impact on climate change and the ways in which we can respond. In the more immediate term, the state should offer more help in the drainage problems that are causing Virginia Beach neighborhoods to flood every time it storms.
Do you support efforts to ensure nonpartisan redistricting at the state level in 2021? Why or why not? Yes. For far too long, politicians have been picking their voters rather than having voters choose their representatives. This process of “gerrymandering” has led to hyper-partisanship in both Richmond and Washington. It has also left minority groups underrepresented. After the 2020 census, new district lines should be drawn by an independent and nonpartisan commission.
Our region contains a large population of active duty and retired military families. How have you or would you work on their behalf? Our military community is one of the prides of Hampton Roads. They put their lives in harm’s way on a daily basis. We must do everything in our power to insure that these men and women are given the benefits that they were promised when they signed up to serve. I will work to continue the work of Governor McAuliffe in providing opportunities and assistance to current and former service members.
Neighborhood/community of residence & city: Hillcrest, Virginia Beach
Age on Primary Day: 36
Occupation: Real estate agent/Small Business Owner
Key endorsements: House Democratic Caucus, Emily’s list, Virginia’s list
Campaign website: voteforfowler.com
Campaign phone number: (804) 909-1214
Campaign email: email@example.com
Social media: @KellyFowlerforDelegate on Facebook and @voteforFowler on Twitter
What are your specific qualifications for this office? As an life-long resident of the district, former public school teacher, small business owner leading an all female team specializing in military relocation, as well as an advocate and fighter for middle-class families, I am uniquely poised to understand and respond to the challenges facing the 21st District.
What, to you, is the most important local issue facing the district and how will you address it if elected? I believe one of the most problematic issues confronting the District is rising sea levels and the resulting floorings that are destroying homes and sometimes rendering families homeless as they attempt to tackle the red tape and bureaucracy of insurance claims.
Will you advocate for state support to local education efforts, including higher education? How so? I absolutely would be supportive of any initiative on behalf of the state that improves the quality of educative in Virginia Beach. As a former educator, I am particularly concerned with the status of full-day kindergarten. To date, not all of our schools offer this much needed educational benefit that has the ability to put our children on the fast track to scholarly excellence.
What priorities do you have that will help support the agriculture community? Please be specific about how you will work on issues impacting this industry. The agricultural community is Virginia’s number one industry, and is a 122 million dollar business here in Virginia Beach. I believe that there are two prominent areas of concern that I would advocate for once elected to office. In southern Virginia Beach there is a longstanding issue with low hanging power lines that interfere with farm equipment and cause costly damage in the area. I would work with the farming community as an advocate to the power company to work on a solution. Agriculture is the lifeline of Virginia Beach, and needs to be supported fully. I also believe that expanded markets for our famers good are necessary. There are food desserts in Virginia that can benefit from all of the fresh foods we grow here in Virginia Beach.
Do you support the ability of local governments to tax and create appropriate local zoning laws governing rentals of homes and apartments through digital platforms such as Airbnb, such as efforts in the recent session? Why or why not? I do believe that localities should have the right to tax and govern the zoning of Airbnb rentals. Localities have missed out on millions of dollars in revenue, while allowing this activity to go unregulated which renders both buyer and seller unprotected. Virginia Beach has over 1,000 listings on Airbnb at any given time, and while I support taxing and regulation of the service, I will be very watchful of its effect on Virginia Beach’s affordable housing markets.
Do you support state funding to help localities pay for purchase of development rights programs meant to ensure farmland remains productive in rural areas? Please explain why or why not. I wholeheartedly support this funding. Virginia Beach is a leader in this area, having been the first locality in the Commonwealth to support this funding (1995). I have seen it work in our community and is the basis of our booming agricultural industry. Farmers generate more public revenue than are spent to maintain them, so it is smart development practices. The most important benefit, however, is that this support keeps these farmlands viable for the long haul.
Do you support access to reproductive care for women? Why or why not? Give an example of legislation you might support or oppose on this issue. I certainly would support reproductive care for women. Being a woman should not be considered a pre-existing condition. Women have the right to the good-quality reproductive care and I would be opposed to any legislation attempts to enforce unreasonable demands on facilities catering to the reproductive health and welfare of women.
How will you work in the Virginia General Assembly to help coastal communities address issues such as sea level rise or impacts on natural resources? I have long been an advocate of measures to counteract the ravages of rising sea levels. As a member of the General Assembly, I would strongly encourage the state to make up the EPA’s short fall due to cuts. It is a priority that we crush the negatively effects of climate changes which threatens the welfare of the Chesapeake Bay.
Do you support efforts to ensure nonpartisan redistricting at the state level in 2021? Why or why not? I do support and will advocate for nonpartisan redistricting at the state level in 2021. Virginia has some of the worst gerrymandering that I have ever seen. Allowing politicians to pick their voters, as opposed to voters picking their politicians is not democratic. It robs citizens of the commonwealth of the right to be represented by leaders who share their values. Stacking the deck with gerrymandered districts create partisan extremism because politicians are not forced to reach across the aisle to appeal to the moderates of our country.
Our region contains a large population of active duty and retired military families. How have you or would you work on their behalf? I have worked for years in the service of military families. In fact, I am a real-estate business owner that specializes in the housing or transferring of military families. Moreover, I seek woman from military families to work in my female only business.
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