Ed. — The following are responses to questions posed by The Independent News to candidates for 81st District of the Virginia House of Delegates in the election on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Answers to our questions in this series generally are not edited, aside from obvious punctuation issues, spacing and formatting, or for clarity. Our full voter guide is now on stands. Knight is the incumbent.
BARRY KNIGHT (R)
Residence: Pungo/Back Bay, Virginia Beach, VA
Military Service/Education Completed: High school graduate
Endorsements: Virginia Farm Bureau AgPAC, Chesapeake Mayor Rick West, Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer
Phone: (757) 426-6387
Social media: facebook.com/BarryKnight81
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. 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 makes me uniquely suited to represent the 81st.
What, to you, is the most important issue facing your district and how will you address it in office? 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. 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 our economy. It is crucial to have a legislator who understands these issues.
What are your three main legislative priorities? I am a pro-business Delegate and my top priorities include growing our local economy and attracting jobs and business growth. A part of that strategy is keeping taxes low on businesses, individuals and families, and I support low taxes and voted to rebate taxpayers this year due to changes in tax law rather than let government spend it. I also fight for transportation, not just for roads and bridges but I support our ports to increase exports, which helps our agricultural economic base.
What priorities do you have that will help support the agriculture community? How have worked (or how will you work) on issues impacting this industry? I have been a farmer all my life and continue my long service record as 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 agriculture. 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’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. I listen to issues facing my district and advocate for constituents in the General Assembly.
How will you support local efforts to address sea level rise and recurrent flooding? I chair the Subcommittee on Rules that passed the first legislation on recurrent flooding. 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.
How will you support Virginia Beach in its long term recovery from the May 31 mass shooting, including the needs of survivors? I sponsored the legislation over the summer to address these needs, including tax exemptions for the families on financial assistance they receive from organizations and donations from the Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund, and for grants and loans to the City of Virginia Beach from the Commonwealth for the renovation of Building 2. I was also honored to carry the resolutions honoring and celebrating the lives of the victims and commending the police and sheriff departments and first responders who were true heroes that day.
Do you support efforts to ensure nonpartisan redistricting? Why or why not? The 81st district was redistricted by a California professor and was stretched all the way up to Western Branch in Chesapeake, making it less compact and less contiguous. I think districts should keep communities of interest intact so that they can be represented by a true citizen legislator. If this is “nonpartisan redistricting”, it’s not fair to these communities. I would support truly nonpartisan redistricting but this past year makes me wonder if there even is such a thing. All I can do is represent you, the voters, the best I can as I’ve always done.
Do you support access to sexual and reproductive health care, including birth control and abortion access? Give an example of legislation you might support or oppose on this issue. I have numerous examples of supporting access to health care and have worked across the aisle to do so. We’ve expanded coverage for 12-month supplies for contraceptives and other efforts to decrease infant mortality by improving pregnancy health. I can work with my colleagues in both parties to make sure access to health care is improved and costs are under control.
LEN MYERS (D)
Residence: Maplewood in Chesapeake
Occupation: Consumer Rights Lawyer
Military Service/Education Completed: Virginia Defense Force (Component of the Virginia National Guard), Regent University School of Law
Endorsements: End Citizens United, EveryDistrict, Future Now
Phone: (757) 255-8866
Social media: @Lenforthewin on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
What are your specific qualifications for this office? Len is educated in the law, having earned a doctorate of jurisprudence from the Regent University School of Law and practicing law as an accomplished litigator, first as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney and in private practice, protecting the rights of consumers. Len is also a businessman, running a successful law practice serving the entire Commonwealth. Most importantly, Len is a life-long resident of Hampton Roads and has had a front row seat to what holds back Hampton Roads from reaching its full potential.
What, to you, is the most important issue facing your district and how will you address it in office? Responsiveness. Len is not seeking a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates so he can have a title in front of his name. Len has simply grown impatient which the lack of responsiveness many delegates have demonstrated on the issues that matter most to our constituents. Len’s attitude as your next delegate is simple: voters first. When one’s party or special interests take precedence over his/her voters, then that’s an unacceptable conflict of interests. As an attorney, Len is responsive to the interests of his clients. Well, as a delegate, Len will be responsive to the needs of the voters of his district.
What are your three main legislative priorities? Len wants to restore state funding for education to 2009 levels so that the state pays its fair share for public education and relieve localities from the raising taxes to cover the difference. Len is also concerned about healthcare; capping insurance copays for artificially-inflated prices on medication and preserving coverage for pre-existing conditions. Another one of Len’s priorities is to bring funds back to our district to protect our community from recurrent flooding.
What priorities do you have that will help support the agriculture community? How have worked (or how will you work) on issues impacting this industry? Len is sensitive to the needs of our district’s agricultural community. Our district is unique in that it is almost equal parts urban/suburban and agricultural. Many of our district’s residents chose to live in our rural areas and Len is committed to preserving this way of life by working to limit suburban encroachment, protecting farming from flooding, and enacting policies to increase the export of our district’s agricultural products to other states and abroad.
How will you support local efforts to address sea level rise and recurrent flooding? Len wants to protect our homes, farms, and businesses from recurrent flooding. Virginia Beach farmers, families, and business owners lose hundreds of millions of dollars to flooding year after year. It will require approximately $3 Billion to construct the necessary infrastructure and that’s in addition to enhancing our existing stormwater system. Len believes a good place to start is to find federal and state dollars to bring back to our city for this tremendous undertaking; with the city, state, federal governments contributing roughly $1 Billion, each. Virginia Beach needs help and Len is committed to being a strong voice for our city on this issue.
How will you support Virginia Beach in its long term recovery from the May 31 mass shooting, including the needs of survivors? Len believes the best way we can support the long-term recovery of the survivors and their families as well as the families of the victims of this awful tragedy is to honor their lives by implementing commonsense gun safety measures such as universal background checks and banning gun silencers, which are not used for personal protection. While we cannot eliminate gun violence, we can certainly do better to protect the lives of neighbors and our loved ones while also protecting our 2nd Amendment rights.
Do you support efforts to ensure nonpartisan redistricting? Why or why not? Len supports nonpartisan redistricting. Len believes every district should be as balanced between our two major parties as possible because a balanced district incentivizes a delegate or senator to act in the best interests of his/her constituents rather than partisan leanings of a particular party. This results in a legislative environment where lawmakers are not penalized for reaching across the isle and they can truly work together to get things done for the good of all Virginians.
Do you support access to sexual and reproductive health care, including birth control and abortion access? Give an example of legislation you might support or oppose on this issue. Len is concerned about the recent alarming news that sexually-transmitted disease infections are on the rise across our nation and Virginia is no exception. Funds previously committed to STD prevention have been slashed since the onslaught of the Great Recession and now the time has come restore that funding. As a Christian, Len has deeply-held personal beliefs concerning the issue of abortion and while he does not support abortion, Len recognizes that the right to abortion is the law of the land.
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