Ed. note — The Independent News asked candidates for the 81st District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates to answer the following questions. This appeared in print on Friday, Nov. 3. Responses to question have not been edited. The following responses appear in the order of the candidate’s names on the ballot. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Kimberly Anne Tucker
Residence: Seatack in Virginia Beach
Age on Election Day: 51
Occupation: Retired educator
Key endorsements: U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine; U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott; Former Chesapeake Mayor Bill Ward
What are your specific qualifications for this office? As a retired educator and school administrator — I have taught every level from preschool to college — I learned how to assess and address the needs of my students and to find practical solutions to problems. Those are skills that help build a positive and cohesive classroom community and they’re skill that translate to the political arena.
I will represent every corner of the district by continuing an ongoing outreach to my constituents after Election Day. Most people have absolutely no idea who their Delegate is or in what ways he/she can be of service to them. No one in the House of Delegates will work harder than me to stay connected.
What, to you, is the most important local issue facing the district and how will you address it if elected? I will put the needs of working people and families first, not corporations or special interests. Whether it’s access to affordable quality health care for all or strengthening public schools, I will support the needs of working families and children who are playing by the rules and just trying to get ahead.
I will fully implement a voter outreach program to stay close to the needs of my district and my focus will never stray from how I, as a delegate, can help connect my constituents to resources and information they need. This is already working very well in Southwest Virginia and I intend to fully implement it here in the 81st House District.
How will you be an advocate for state support to local education efforts, including higher education? I will work with educators to ensure that the dollars that are allocated to public education reflect the needs of students and localities. This is simply a matter of priorities. Education must be at the top of our priority list as a state.
What priorities do you have that will help support the agriculture community? Please be specific about how you have worked or will work on issues impacting this industry. Our agricultural community needs expanded opportunities to increase the profitability of their farms. I will support exploration of expanding qualifying conditions for the use of medical marijuana and expanding the cultivation of industrial hemp by increasing opportunities for farmers to become licensed growers. I will also support exploring expanded incentives for the production of renewable energy sources.
I will also support opportunities to encourage more people to enter the field by providing funding for agricultural internships and apprenticeships.
Many rural voters that I have spoken to have serious concerns about over development that goes beyond what the current infrastructure can support. It important to them to protect their land and rural way of life from poorly planned over development. By forgoing a cozy a relationship with land developers, I will be able to focus on the needs of the rural community and not corporations.
Do you support access to reproductive health care for women? Why or why not? Give an example of legislation you might support or oppose on this issue. Any legislation I propose or support will reflect the fact that women are fully capable of making decisions regarding their own reproductive rights without interference from an intrusive government. For generations, this has been the law of the land and I will not allow Virginia to return to the Dark Ages of back alley abortions.
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 will ensure that localities have the resources they need to invest in improvement of infrastructure to alleviate flooding that occurs as a result of sea level rise. I will also support legislation to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and increase our our use renewable of energy sources like wind and solar.
Do you support efforts to ensure nonpartisan redistricting? Why or why not? Gerrymandering is one of the greatest threats we face as a democracy because it disenfranchises voters from our electoral process and discourages participation. Every voter needs to know that his or her vote counts as much as their neighbor’s does, regardless of where they live. Districting should never be a partisan exercise and fixing our broken system will be a priority for me in Richmond.
Barry D. Knight
Residence: Pungo in Virginia Beach
Age on Election Day: 63
Key endorsements: Virginia Farm Bureau AgPac, National Federation of Independent Business, Hampton Roads Black Caucus
What are your specific qualifications for this office? Virginia Beach Planning Commission, Vice-President of VB Farm Bureau, Lifelong resident of Virginia Beach, and Farmer. My children attended our public schools, and our family attends Oak Grove Baptist Church. I am a citizen legislator, a good listener and advocate for the 81st district. Constituent service is a top priority for me, as I put myself in their shoes and work to solve problems. I’m recognized as a businessman through the Chamber of Commerce, Virginia FREE and the NFIB. I know how jobs are created and a strong economy through private sector job growth provides resources to solve problems. I feel my experience in our district make me uniquely suited to represent the 81st in Richmond.
What, to you, is the most important local issue facing the district and how will you address it if elected? Locally, we need to address flooding in southern Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, and I am working on solutions that address both tidal and stormwater impacts, from ensuring ditches remain clear and making sure the Great Bridge Locks don’t make some problems worse instead of better. I worked to make it easier on landowners and farmers to farm and timber their land. These are regulations that hinder our agribusiness industry, and I am committed to helping this economy.
How will you be an advocate for state support to local education efforts, including higher education? I serve on the two House Appropriations Subcommittees that fund K-12 education and colleges and universities. I have advocated and secured more funding for teachers raises (2% in 2017-2018) and successfully increased Virginia Beach education funding from $347.1 million to $361.1 and increased funding for Chesapeake schools from $228.5 to $239.1 million. Higher education costs have skyrocketed and we need to make sure we preserve slots in Virginia colleges for Virginia students and slow the rise in tuitions that have saddled more graduates with more debt.
What priorities do you have that will help support the agriculture community? Please be specific about how you have worked or will work on issues impacting this industry. I have been a farmer all my life. I am Vice-President of VB Farm Bureau. I have helped secure monies for BMPs on farms for buffer strips, fencing cattle out of streams, many cost shares with farmers, and we’ve increased the truck weights for bringing crops out of the field. I helped fund our Land Grant Universities dealing with agricultural research. As Chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee, I see and act on all issues dealing with agricultural. I am the “go to guy” on agriculture issues, and I’m proud of that. I’ve lived and breathed agriculture my whole life. I know first-hand the problems and issues facing farmers today. I’ve been honored as Farmer of the Year from the Virginia Beach Jaycees, and was once Virginia Young Farmer of the Year. I’ve served as Director for Virginia Dare Soil and Water Conservation District. My priorities are to listen to issues facing my district and advocate for my constituents in the General Assembly.
Do you support access to reproductive health care for women? Why or why not? Give an example of legislation you might support or oppose on this issue. Del. Eileen Filler-Corn patroned HB 2267, and I was a co-patron. It requires any health benefit plan that is amended or renewed that provides hormonal contraceptives to cover up to a 12-month supply. This bipartisan bill overwhelmingly passed and was signed into law. We also fund a program called Medicaid Plan First at $6.2 million that covers everything related to reproductive health care. Some of the goals of this program are to decrease infant mortality by improving pregnancy health, increase access to family planning services for low income women and men, and increase male involvement in reproductive health.
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 chair the Subcommittee on Rules that passed the first legislation on recurrent flooding. I advocated for it and voted for it. We passed my legislation for nutrient trading credits which set the stage for HRSD to deep water well injection of drinking water back into the aquifer. My budget amendment secured $1.4 million for an extensometer that was installed at HRSD Nansemond River plant to measure aquifer water levels. I also serve on the Virginia State Water Commission that deals with this issue, especially ground level subsistence due to aquifer depletion.
Do you support efforts to ensure nonpartisan redistricting? Why or why not? I’m not sure there is such a thing as “nonpartisan” redistricting. I believe in compact district of like-minded neighbors with equal population. Keep the community together. By keeping communities of interest intact, their issues can be addressed by a true citizen legislator, which is what I work hard to be every day.
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