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2019 Virginia Beach Elections: Questions for Democratic primary candidates in the 7th State Senate District

Ed. — The following are responses to questions posed by The Independent News to candidates in the Tuesday, June 11, Democratic primary to become the party’s nominee in the 7th Virginia Senate District race. The answers to our questions in this series generally are not edited, aside from obvious punctuation issues, spacing and formatting or for clarity. One of the three candidates, Kim Howard, did not respond.


Susan Hippen

Residence: Virginia Beach

Age as of Election Day: 59

Occupation: Retired Master Chief

Key endorsements: Collective PAC, #VOTEPROCHOICE and Virginia Beach Interdenominational Ministers

Website: HippenforVA.com

Phone number: (757) 679-1286

Email: susan@susanhippen.org

Social media: @Hippen4SD07 on Facebook; @hippen_VaSD7 on Twitter

What are your specific qualifications for this office? My 25-year career in the Navy, and my time as a Master Chief has prepared me to work with people of all kinds to accomplish goals.  I will be able to bring both sides together to improve the lives of Virginians and negotiate compromises that work for everyone, because that is what I did every day during my military career.

Since I retired, I have spent my time investing in our community as a volunteer.  I’ve worked in my church, local schools, and the Daughters of the American Revolution to improve the lives of people right here in Virginia Beach. In that time, I’ve seen the challenges too many of our neighbors still face and understand the urgent need to get results in Richmond that will bring the resources necessary to protect and empower all of our residents regardless of income, class, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

During the 2019 legislative session I served as an aide to Delegate Convirs-Fowler.  I saw the legislative process up close, and on day one as a Senator I will be prepared to introduce and pass legislation that will get real results for our region and our state.

What, to you, is the most important local issue facing the district and how will you address it if elected? We need to ensure that we work to mitigate flooding in this area.  Over the long term we need to invest in green energy to reduce the effects of climate change, but over the short term we need to update water infrastructure in this area to improve runoff and work with developers to implement building practices that allows water to more quickly enter the ground or flow into larger reservoirs or rivers and streams.

How will you be an advocate for state support to local education efforts, including higher education? Show me your budget, and I’ll show you your priorities. If we claim to value education, we need to put our money where our mouth is and spend state dollars accordingly. I will take that message to my colleagues in Richmond.

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. The biggest thing we can provide our farmers is sufficient land for their crops at a sustainable price.  Being careful with how and where we develop and how we allow cities to zone that land is an important and often overlooked detail.

We need to ensure that we don’t allow harmful chemicals to reach our planting areas and the ecosystems they rely on.  Pesticides that kill local bee populations need to be regulated to ensure bees can continue to pollinate plants that feed our population.

Flooding is also a major concern for our farmers.  Crops can drown if there is too much standing water.  Ensuring proper flood mitigation is key to the continuing viability of our farming community.

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. Women deserve nothing less than autonomy over our own health care choices, including reproductive health care.

I would oppose any bill that counteracts that goal but specifically I would oppose laws that treat reproductive health care clinics differently than any other health care provider (TRAP laws).

How will you work in the Virginia General Assembly to help coastal communities address issues such as sea level rise or recurrent flooding? We need to look at the way we allow building to take place along coastal areas.  Too often we don’t think over the long term and allow green space and coastal barriers to be removed for housing and storefronts when these are critical pieces of preventing flooding.  We also need to invest in green building practices to prevent further greenhouse gas emissions wherever possible.

We need to invest in a major fix to our water piping and erosion prevention.  If water can’t enter the ground, and ultimately return to the ocean and rivers, it will stay on the surface and become flood water.  We need to build drainage systems that can accommodate the amount of water that comes through this area.

For long term security against sea level rise and climate change we need to invest in renewable energy resources.  The opportunity for solar and wind power in this area is immense.  Not only will we mitigate the worst effects of climate change, but we will add good paying jobs to our economy and provide new opportunities for our young people to find careers that will allow them to stay in this area and raise families of their own.

Amid such divided political times, how will you work across the aisle to pass legislation that helps your constituents? In the Navy, we don’t choose our shipmates. We all must work together to ensure a safe and successful deployment.  In the same way, the General Assembly is a group elected to improve the lives of our constituents regardless of party. If we focus on the goals we share rather than the political affiliations we don’t, we will all be better off.


Cheryl Turpin

Residence: Lexington, Virginia Beach

Age as of Election Day: 55

Occupation: Public High School Teacher

Key endorsements: Pipe Trades Union and SMART Union

Website: TurpinForSenate.com

Email: info@TurpinForSenate.com

Social media: @CherylTurpinVB on Twitter; @CherylTurpinvb on Facebook

What are your specific qualifications for this office? I have been a progressive champion with a track record of progressive successes. In the General Assembly I passed Medicaid Expansion, got public school teachers a pay raise, helped struggling schools and advocated for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. On day one in the State Senate I will be the progressive champion that can make sure we are properly funding education, protecting access to affordable healthcare, and protecting Women’s rights.

What, to you, is the most important local issue facing the district and how will you address it if elected? Many of the schools in my district are over 50 years old, and are not scheduled to be upgrade or replaced in the next 50 or 60 years. I will fight to ensure that more money is provided by the state to help fund new school buildings and maintenance. While the Town Center area is thriving, the Kempsville and College Park areas need to be a part of an economic stimulus package for small businesses.

How will you be an advocate for state support to local education efforts, including higher education? As a high school science teacher I have a unique perspective on education issues. I proudly served on the House of Delegates Education Committee where I was able to pass teacher pay raises and a bill that helps struggling schools get the resources they need faster. In the State Senate I intend to be a passionate advocate for public education and public educators just as I have been in the House of Delegates.

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 joined my General Assembly colleagues Delegates Knight, Convirs-Fowler, Lindsey, Davis, Bloxom, Miyares, and Stolle, and Senators Lewis, DeSteph, Cosgrove, and Wagner in supporting the relocation of the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center to the southern portion of Virginia Beach. The Center would better serve the southern and western agricultural farming industry in the Hampton Roads Region with this move. The proximity to the agricultural operations provides greater connectivity and research cooperation in the areas of plant nutrition, irrigation, disease, insects, and weed control. This center would not only provide an economic boon to the region, it would ensure that the best new technologies would be made easily available to the very farmers who need them.

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. I believe women’s healthcare decisions should be decisions made by women and their doctor.

How will you work in the Virginia General Assembly to help coastal communities address issues such as sea level rise or recurrent flooding? I will push for Virginia to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas initiative to get funding that will help us combat recurrent flooding and sea level rise.

Amid such divided political times, how will you work across the aisle to pass legislation that helps your constituents? I have had success in the General Assembly working across the aisle. My first piece of legislation to become law, HB. 2147 passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support. In the State Senate I intend to have the same success.


© 2019 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

The Independent News

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