Ed. — The following are responses to questions posed by The Independent News to candidates for 14th District of the Virginia Senate 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. Cosgrove is the incumbent.
JOHN A. COSGROVE (R)
Residence: Edinburgh Meadows in Chesapeake, VA
Occupation: Engineer / Business Development
Military Service/Education Completed: United States Navy Reserve Officer; BS Old Dominion University
Phone (757) 434-3746
Social Media: @SenatorCosgrove on Facebook
What are your specific qualifications for this office? I have served in the Senate since 2013 and prior to that, in the House of Delegates since 2002. Prior to that service, I served as the Vice Mayor of Chesapeake. I am the Chairman of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science for Virginia, and I also serve as a Virginia Representative to the Chesapeake Bay Commission. I am also the Vice Chairman of the Senate Transportation committee and serve as the Senate representative to the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization. I have a great deal of experience with local and state issues as well as interstate compacts.
What, to you, is the most important issue facing your district and how will you address it in office? Education, transportation, and public safety are of primary concern to my district. Our children need to have the best education possible to prepare them for either the workforce or higher education. Our transportation needs must be met so that our economy will thrive and grow, and our first responders must have the best support, training, and equipment possible so that they can continue to protect our families in Hampton Roads. Additionally, the economy is vital to the financial well being of our area and to the entire Commonwealth. Virginia is ranked Number 1 for business this year and we need to maintain that designation into the future.
What are your three main legislative priorities? I am introducing Senate Bill 1030 that I carried last year that will add certain cancers to those considered to be caused by duties performed by our fire fighters. This bill will add cancers of the brain, colon, and testes to those illnesses considered to be related to the dangerous jobs that our fire fighters face every day.
I am also re-introducing legislation that will allow school districts to hire retired law enforcement officers to serve as school security officers for the safety and protection of our school children. Currently, these officers can only be employed on a part time basis which is detrimental to the interaction needed between school security personnel and our children. Currently, the Virginia Retirement System prohibits this employment.
Regulation of gaming machines in the Commonwealth. Currently, any gaming machines that are in businesses pay no tax or fees to either the localities or the Commonwealth.
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? Agriculture is the largest industry in Virginia, and I am endorsed by the Virginia Farm Bureau and I have been a proponent for agriculture in Virginia for many years. I have carried legislation that increased truck weight limits for agricultural products so that our farmers can fairly compete and get their produce to market at the lowest cost to them. We also like to attend many county fairs and 4H events in support of agriculture now and into the future.
How will you support local efforts to address sea level rise and recurrent flooding? As a member of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, I am keenly aware of sea level rise and the potential harm that it can do to our communities. I spoke forcefully on the Senate floor to establish a cabinet level position in the governor’s office whose sole function is to address sea level rise and flooding issues. I am supportive of the efforts of Virginia Beach to address flooding in the Bow Creek and surrounding areas, and will be supportive of budget amendments that will aid localities mitigate flooding in our area.
How will you support Virginia Beach in its long term recovery from the May 31 mass shooting, including the needs of survivors? In the July session that was held in Richmond to address issues associated with the tragic shootings in Virginia Beach and elsewhere, I was very supportive of state funding to aid Virginia Beach in its long term recovery. Unfortunately, an appropriation of 10 million dollars was held back on the House floor that would have been of great help to Virginia Beach. In addition, there were bills that would ensure a tax break for any funds paid to survivors of the victims. We will be re-introducing these bills in January, and I will do all I can to convince my colleagues in the Senate and the House to move quickly on these initiatives.
Do you support efforts to ensure nonpartisan redistricting? Why or why not? I was a conferee on the compromise constitutional amendment that was passed by the General Assembly in February. Having served on the Privileges and Elections Committee for almost 20 years, I believed that it was time to address how district lines were drawn. The intrusion of the federal courts in our redistricting, especially in the House of Delegates and the US House of Representatives was proof that we needed to adjust how these lines would be drawn in the future.
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 support funding for reproductive health, but I am also very pro-life. I do not believe that taxpayer funding is appropriate for obtaining an abortion, and I am adamantly opposed to the infanticide bill that was introduced in last winter’s session.
REBECCA RAVESON (D)
Residence: Downtown Historic Suffolk
Occupation: Semi-Retired, former Loan Officer
Military Service/Education Completed: B.A., Anthropology, The George Washington University
Phone: (757) 938-4804 or (267) 439-6034
What are your specific qualifications for this office? 1st time running for elective political office. I have business experience running a commercial printing plant, corporate experience working for Charles Schwab as a print buyer, and financial experience in mortgages, renovation and education. I have lived and worked in DC, Florida, California, Pennsylvania and Virginia and gained relevant insights into how other states handle similar challenges to those that face Virginians.
What, to you, is the most important issue facing your district and how will you address it in office? Very hard to pick just one because my District is so diverse! The one thing affecting everyone is climate change and rising sea levels. We must reduce our carbon footprint, reduce waste, and encourage innovation in those areas.
What are your three main legislative priorities? I would like to see Governor Northam’s gun regulation bill passed; education – more equitable distribution of funding, attracting teachers and counselors by offering reduced costs or student loan forgiveness and higher salaries; and, banning off-shore drilling, fracking and pipelines thereby encouraging wind and solar energy.
What priorities do you have that will help support the agriculture community? I am a huge supporter of Hemp. It is a low impact crop, has a 120 day growing season, uses 1/4 the water other crops use, can be used in lieu of cotton, plastics, wood products and even fuel. It represents an opportunity for farmers and will encourage industrial/economic growth in the area.
How will you support local efforts to address sea level rise and recurrent flooding? I would certainly support any and all sensible efforts to address sea level rise and flooding.
How will you support Virginia Beach in its long term recovery from the May 31 mass shooting, including the needs of survivors? We have to pass gun legislation – Northam’s Bill was a responsible, important step in the right direction.
Do you support efforts to ensure nonpartisan redistricting? Yes, I do! The Congressional districts have been redrawn making them nearly 50/50 Dems and Republicans. The Senate districts have NOT been redrawn, so I find myself running to represent an interesting constituency.
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 firmly believe in a woman’s right to reproductive health care and in her right choose what she does with her body.
I also believe in teaching family planning to early high school students to include educating them about the ramifications of pregnancy and early parenthood (personal and societal). As an aside, Colorado has offered free birth control for the past 4 years. It has reduced both abortions and unplanned pregnancies by 40+%. I would like to see a similar program in Virginia.
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