Republican HoD Candidates Make Pitch

Jeremy Aldrich -- April 15th, 2010

Next Tuesday, local Republicans will select their nominee to replace Delegate Matt Lohr in a special election for the 26th District. With time so short, and no planned public fora or debates for the three contenders, hburgnews asked each of the candidates to briefly introduce themselves to voters.  The responses from attorney John Elledge, businessman Tony Wilt, and City Councilman Ted Byrd follow each question.

Why do you believe you are the best candidate for the Republican nomination?

Elledge: “Because the citizens of the 26th District need a Delegate who can hit the ground running, I know that I am the right man for the job.

I know the institution of the Virginia General Assembly, because I worked ten years as the Legislative Assistant to former Delegate Glenn Weatherholtz. I am the only candidate who knows the procedures and the processes of the legislature. I have drafted bills, and monitored, and developed strategy to pass important legislation over those ten years. I am aware of the ins and outs of the committee structure, and the tricks and setbacks legislators face. I know the players in Richmond and in the District, and I know the mysteries of the budgeting process.

My political values were developed under the guidance of Delegate Weatherholtz, who had a distaste for politics as usual. He served 24 years as Sheriff of Rockingham County. During those years and during his service in the General Assembly, he made it a point of genuine pride to never spend his entire budget. He was also a tough man who knew his own mind, and did not give in easily to the pressures of the insiders in the political class. It is my goal to emulate Glenn Weatherholtz in all these ways.”

Wilt: “I don’t consider myself better, or I’m right and they’re wrong, in regards to Ted or John. I believe each of us shares common ground on some issues, and probably are unique in our individual perspectives as well. For me, I’ve lived here all my life. While I know a lot of business owners and managers, I also know a lot of folks that work for those businesses. It’s these lifelong relationships that help me understand the concerns of the folks here in the valley. I’m excited about the prospect of making sure these concerns, the voices of the 26th district, are heard in Richmond.”

Byrd: “I am running for the Republican nomination for the House of Delegates for the 26th District because I believe my experiences in agriculture, economic development, business, transportation and local government enable me to have a balanced perspective and well represent our community’s interests in Richmond.  I am committed to listen carefully to constituents and make decisions that will best address local and state concerns.”

If elected, what would be your highest priorities in the General Assembly to benefit our area?

Elledge: “I will consider it an achievement every time I successfully work for the failure of government-expanding legislation proposed by a Democrat or a Republican.

I will consider it an achievement if I can make a dent in the status of the 26th District as a net-exporter of resources. I want to bring our fair share back home to be spent in our communities, not in the districts of those that cater excessively to expansive local governments; I will work to fund core services of education, public safety and transportation, and to relieve upward pressure on our local tax system.

I will proudly limit the amount of legislation I introduce each session. Not every idea needs to become law. What legislation I do introduce will have a priority of reducing the size of government.”

Wilt: “The economy is on everyone’s mind. Virtually every single person is worried about meeting their financial obligations. We have to look at two areas. First is personal responsibility. The second is outside influences. One of the greatest outside influences is governmental impacts like taxes.

I can’t do much about the first, except for myself, but I hope to address the second. We must continue to examine how state and local entities are utilizing funds. A lot of this has been going on (mostly by default because tax revenues are down). I want to continue the trimming and streamlining process.

We must also re-evaluate just what role government is supposed to play in our collective and individual lives. The crisis we find ourselves in cannot be solved by trimming only. We must eliminate any and all programs that don’t fall under the basic function and responsibility of our government.

Another solution to our crisis is to find other income sources. That being said, finding other sources and ignoring trimming and eliminating does not fix the core problem. It simply promotes irresponsible behavior and prolongs the inevitable.”

Byrd: “If elected, I will champion local agriculture because it is an economic base upon which much of our local economy is built.  I will work to ensure that state, federal and local regulations provide for an even playing field so that our family farms can compete regionally, nationally, and globally.  I will strive to provide a business environment that encourages growth of small and entrepreneurial companies, encourages local companies in expansion efforts and allows for the recruitment of new employers to this area.  I will champion our local school systems to be sure Richmond knows the challenges facing our community.  I believe that a quality education is a right of every child.

Transportation infrastructure is critical for our quality of life.  I will do all that I can to continue to identify funding streams for road improvements, and I will require accountability with funding to be sure that we get what we are paying for.”

Del. Lohr has served the community for more than four years. Are you aware of any issues (such as abortion restrictions, the annexation moratorium, funding for agri-tourism, etc.) where your stance differs significantly from Del. Lohr?

Elledge: “I think my difference with my friend Matt Lohr would be more in terms of style and emphasis, rather than a direct conflict with regard to specific legislative initiatives.  Rather than placing my focus on some of the issues that Matt excelled at addressing during his tenure in the House, my focus would be more fiscal, particularly in terms of comprehensive budget reform. Since I’ve been in Richmond, and participated in the budgeting process through my hands-on work with the House Appropriations Committee, and was closely associated with the founding of the Cost-Cutting Caucus in the late 90s, I will be in a much better position than either of my opponents to fight for reforms that would reject the balancing of the state budget on the backs of local governments. I will also pick up on the effort to bring sunshine to the budget process, by requiring that the state budget be made available to the public in detailed form, and posted on the Internet.

I liken my view on this subject to the relationships the members of the Valley Delegation traditionally have with one another in Richmond. Each member typically is supportive of the efforts of the others, but bring different skills and interests to the Assembly.”

Wilt: “No, there aren’t any issues where my stance would differ from Del. Lohr’s that I’m aware of.”

Byrd: “Matt Lohr served this area well over the last four years, which was evidenced by his large margin of victory in the last campaign.  As the peoples’ representative, he got it right.  If elected, I am committing to listening to my constituents and to making my voting decisions that will best address local and state concerns.”

Photos courtesy of John Elledge, Becca Wilt, and Brent Finnegan.

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33 Responses to “Republican HoD Candidates Make Pitch”

  1. David Miller says:

    Mr Elledge :“I will consider it an achievement every time I successfully work for the failure of government-expanding legislation proposed by a Democrat or a Republican.”

    Mr Elledge. What type of legislation would you consider government-expanding and do you consider that inherently to be a negative thing regardless of results. Is the role of government to solve problems for citizens? As Delegate how would you decrease the effectiveness and scope of government while increasing your effectiveness as a representative for us?

    Mr. Elledge, Wilt, Byrd: How do you propose measuring the sentiments of your constituents if elected to office.

    Mr Elledge, Wilt, Byrd: Will you stand with our Governor and Attorney General in their efforts to limit civil rights for the gay, lesbian and transgender communities in Virginia?

    • Renee says:

      “How do you propose measuring the sentiments of your constituents if elected to office.”

      I think this is an excellent question.

  2. seth says:

    i like all of your questions except for the last one. i’d like to see us not vote for our delegate based on where they fall on gays, abortion, the death penalty, etc (although i’m sure that there are plenty of republicans who would be more than happy to see it boil down to that).

  3. David Miller says:

    Seth, while I agree with you, the reality of the situation is that you have proactive Republicans like Matt Lohr and McDonnell holding office, pursuing those far right policies. I am asking these candidates this question because I’d like to know how they intend to act if elected. Not asking now and then expecting them to leave these issues alone if elected is how we got McDonnell and Cucinelli.

  4. David Miller says:

    You will however notice that I placed that question last, similar to its import to me.

  5. Wilt: “No, there aren’t any issues where my stance would differ from Del. Lohr’s that I’m aware of.”

    No further questions. We now know what qualifies you to be the presumptive candidate of the status quo.

  6. David Miller says:

    I was kind of hoping for a bit of elaboration, I hope the candidates see my questions

  7. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    I don’t know Mr. Elledge very well (other than his humorous but businesslike interactions via email), but I have a good deal of respect for Mr. Byrd from several previous interactions. He certainly has a lot of knowledge of how state decisions impact local governments. Tony Wilt and I used to go to church together and he is a stand-up guy, very straight-talking and caring with a deep faith.

    I have invited each of the three to check out the comments and hopefully respond to some of the questions from commenters.

  8. Lauren Gilbert says:

    To Mr. Elledge, Mr. Wilt, and Mr. Byrd,
    I have read your statements about what you would do if elected as Delegate to the 26th District. You all seem to emphasize cutting any government programs that are not necessary to the basic function of government. However, I have experienced firsthand that cutting of government programs that people do not see directly relate to the basic functions of government can lead to tragedy.
    Today, April 16 2010, the third anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings. I’d like you to consider the case of my high school classmate, Mary Read. Mary was a great student and a ray of sunshine in everyone’s day. She always had a smile for everyone she crossed paths with, even if she didn’t know you. Mary was also a talented musician and touched many peoples lives. She was brutally murdered in her french class at Virginia Tech three years ago today by someone who fell through the cracks of our state health care and gun control systems.
    In memory of Mary, I would like to tell you that “eliminat[ing] any and all programs that don’t fall under the basic function and responsibility of our government” is not always the best answer. Sometimes the government must act in ways those beyond outlined in its basic functions in order to ENSURE basic rights of its citizens. It is the government’s responsibility not only to ensure that students like Mary and the rest of my fellow college students throughout the state can attend class in a university without fear, but also to ensure that people like Seung-Hui Cho are not overlooked by our mental health system and gun control laws and are allowed to endanger others. Just because you might not see the direct link between state mental health screenings and citizen safety does not mean that those links do not exist. I implore you to think creatively in seeking to solve the problems that we face in our wonderful Commonwealth so we do not face tragedies like this again.

    Lauren Gilbert

    • Candace Avalos says:

      Lauren, that was the best thing I’ve ever read and I am impressed. Everything you wrote is very very right. I support this 110%

      • Lauren Gilbert says:

        Thank you Candace. I think it’s important that our elected officials understand the importance of effective public policy and that not legislation that encourages government programs is bad. I plan to help elect and vote for people seeking public office who understand this invaluable connection, which I am not sure these men have illustrated they do.

    • Deb SF says:

      Just excellent.

    • So, Lauren. Do you believe that the state should mandate mental health screening for all students who attend government universities?

  9. republitarian says:

    Dear “Lauren Doo-gooder”,

    I’m very sorry about your friend. You cannot stop a crazy person with laws, you have to stop them with equal or greater force.

    Had some of those kids been armed in Mary’s french class the outcome may have been much different. A crazy person will use anything, including knifes, box cutters, or anything else…what are you going to do? Ban those things too.

    Go throw a party, get drunk, and start a riot…..that’s what people your age are good at. You’ve had enough life experience to fill a teaspoon.

    You don’t take a man, or woman’s, constitutional rights because one man goes off the deep end.

    • Dan says:

      “Go throw a party, get drunk, and start a riot…..that’s what people your age are good at. You’ve had enough life experience to fill a teaspoon.”

      What an ignorant response to a very thoughtful comment.

      Back to the point. Having a state mental-health system has probably prevented countless attacks over the years. There are plenty of ways we could improve it to prevent even more. There are hundreds of social workers in VA doing work that is hardly ever noticed but benefits us all.

    • JGFitzgerald says:

      This comment is deplorable even by the standards of this particular blogger.

      • Emmy says:

        Agreed. Myron, I’ve seen you write and heard you say some questionable things…but that was horrible.

    • This is undoubtedly mean-spirited, in violation of the red lettered rules.

      Not that hard, Myron. You know, the Golden Rule?

      • Ah, but not censored, either. Myron, your comment was obviously not stinging enough. Obviously, it was directed at Brent or one of the others who do original content on here.

        • We can delete his comment, but then the responses wouldn’t make much sense, would they?

          Speaking of things that don’t sense, your comment makes no sense. Myron’s comment was “obviously” directed at Lauren, not me.

          Please do us a favor and keep a running track of how many of your comments get deleted, and how many get approved, and report back. I’d be interested to know.

  10. Welby Lehman says:

    I know this is off topic of this thread but Seung-Hui Cho was severely mentally ill. Do you support the right to bear arms for anyone regardless of their mental state? Lauren is right that Mr. Cho slipped through the cracks of our society; cracks which need to be filled by laws AND mental-health workers AND good-hearted people that care for and look out for others around them. That is the “equal or greater force” I believe in.

  11. Tony Wilt says:

    I’ll try to answer questions. Mr. Miller, you questioned support by the Governor and A.G. to limit civil rights to gays, etc…- I’m not aware of any legislation attempting to do so. Speaking honestly, you want to know my views on gays. Because of my personal beliefs, I do not support that lifestyle. Yet, I would not condone the mistreatment or persecution of an individual that does.

    Measuring sentiments of my constituency- By talking with them. I would have an e-mail bank to keep folks up on what’s going on, town hall-type meetings, telephone, and an open door.

    Me not differing from Del. Lohr on issues- I got updates from Matt on issues that he felt were pertinent, and with those I agreed, that I can remember. Do you really expect me to know every bill the man dealt with? If there is a specific issue, let’s talk.

    Jeremy, thanks for the kind words. I am not in this for glamour or glory. I am a simple man who happens to believe each person is known by his fruit.

  12. Lowell Fulk says:

    Excellent post Lauren.
    You honor this community by choosing to be here Lauren. Your contributions and dedication have been quite impressive, and you will always find a leadership role.

  13. David Miller says:

    Wow, anywho, Lauren’s comments are enlightening. Particularly when thinking about how people view government. Providing mental health services cannot be a for profit model. Government must operate these services for them to be offered effectively to the population (like water, elec, road, air, safety regulations etc. The for profit model of public services has been empirically disproven as an option, see Argentina for further detail, plus I don’t want Blackwater replaceing the HPD!) . These services benefit us all.

    Isn’t this the exact type of thing that Government is for and don’t people like Myron who object to Government working at all do America a disservice?

  14. David Miller says:

    btw, Myron doesn’t need to be told that his hateful comments reflect terribly upon his humanity, he doesn’t care.

  15. David Miller says:

    Mr. Wilt

    Thank you for responding. On the issue of rolling back of civil rights

    “It is my advice that the law and public policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia prohibit a college or university from including ‘sexual orientation,’ ‘gender identity,’ ‘gender expression,’ or like classification as a protected class within its non-discrimination policy absent specific authorization from the General Assembly,” he wrote. ”

    Removing protection from discrimination for any class of citizens is a blow to all citizens. Imagine if Cuccinelli tried to remove protection from discrimination for women or African Americans, there is no difference. Regardless of your personal views on homosexuality are you willing to recognize their right to exist equally?

    (btw, thank you for responding. I appreciate the time you spend doing so.)

  16. republitarian says:

    Thankfully, not all of the legislators legislate based on “feelings”.

    Okay, I’ll take the comment back about “getting drunk and throwing a party, I mean a riot.” I get very frustrated when I see these idealistic young children that just have such easy answers for difficult issues.

    How many guns laws did Cho break? I’m sure a few more would have stopped him…..

  17. David Miller says:

    Myron, it was not a lack of gun law that allowed Cho to “fall through the cracks”, Cho fell through the cracks of our mental health system.
    We have focused for too long on social issues. We have ignored possibilities in infrastructure

  18. republitarian says:

    I agree that our mental health system needs work.

    On the news this morning……democratic congressmen from VA on the day before the anniversary of the VA Tech massacre release a letter begging for more gun control.

    • What if, as proposed by some for immigration laws, we increase the punishments for breaking gun laws and step up enforcement? For example, the VT shooter failed to disclose on his form about his previous mental health issues. I think a revamp of privacy laws to connect the dots between info in the mental health system with info in the criminal background check system would have helped here, as would having more of a cushion between the “instant background check” and the gun purchase, allowing a followup by an actual government agent to verify that key information presented is actually true. Of course, that costs tax money and means people can’t take their shiny new guns home the day they fall in love with them.

  19. Ernie Didot says:

    Here’s an issue I’d like to hear the three candidates comment on: the Tim Tebow Bill (eg. That is, giving equal access to all Virginians to athletics that they are paying for, but currently are barred from participating b/c they may be homeschooled. 24 states, like Florida, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Arizona all allow equal access.
    After hearing Mr. Elledge out, it sounds like he would be pro-Tebow Bill. I’m not so sure about Byrd and Wilt. These are the types of issues that mean something to a core of the Republican base. Would either of them be willing to champion such a bill? Would they drag their feet and do nothing?
    I’d like to know going into tomorrow’s primary.

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