QOTW: What Should HoD Candidates Be Talking About?

Jeremy Aldrich -- May 13th, 2010

The 26th district special election is just over four weeks away, with polls opening early morning on Tuesday June 15th.  Three candidates are vying for the right to represent us in Richmond: Democrat Kai Degner,   Republican Tony Wilt, and independent Carolyn Frank.

Hunter Thompson said, “politics is the art of controlling your environment.” The condensed time frame for this race means that there’s not much time to exercise that control, as  voters have just four weeks to hear from the candidates on issues most important to the district.

So we want to know:  what state-level issues are important to you right now?  What should the candidates be talking about?  What kinds of concerns do you have that our next delegate should know about and take with them to Richmond?

20 Responses to “QOTW: What Should HoD Candidates Be Talking About?”

  1. I’d like to see an effort to create more of a separation between the three branches of government…the General Assembly has enacted legislation in recent years which has permitted bureaucrats to do things administratively, without using any standards, that used to be done by judges with fully-defined standards.

  2. And since we have a provision within the Constitution of Virginia that provides for a “free” education in the elementary and secondary levels, a law should be passed that mandates that if the General Assembly fails to provide its “share” of funding (65%, I believe), that by operation of law, localities would be allowed to increase taxes for the sole purpose of making up the difference in funding, and would be able to “short” those dollars in the revenue stream going back to Richmond, ensuring that government schools are fully-funded.

  3. BANDIT says:

    A pattern of disrespectful behavior.
    First of all you need to attend the meetings/debates to be able to discuss anything. Carolyn Frank has something more important to do AGAIN for Tuesday’s candidate’s forum. According to the DN-R, She will not be able to attend, making it two out of two forums She missed.

  4. Wilt seems to have increased the number of “issues” on his site…he wants to ELIMINATE all taxes, and all regulation.

    He’s against abortion and wants to stop government funding of the procedure, but if he can’t stop abortions and can’t stop government funding of the procedure, he wants “equal time” for the pro-life position.

    Geez…and today there’s a picture of Marsha and Clark Ritchie with him on the courthouse stairs.

  5. As of right now, the candidates aren’t talking about much. At least, not to/with each other. From today’s DNR:

    “Only one candidate in the race for the 26th House District will attend Tuesday’s candidates’ forum.

    Harrisonburg Mayor Kai Degner, the Democratic nominee, will address the forum scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Cecil F. Gilkerson Community Activity Center in Harrisonburg. A question and answer period will follow the candidate’s presentation. The Harriet Tubman Cultural Center is sponsoring the forum.

    Both Tony Wilt, a Republican, and Harrisonburg Councilwoman Carolyn Frank, who is running as an independent, said Thursday that scheduling conflicts would prevent them from attending.”

    While this wasn’t technically slated as a debate, let’s hope we get to see at least one debate with all three candidates before election day.

  6. Tad says:

    The roads in this state are falling apart. There are two ways to remedy that. Raise taxes via income, sales, real estate, etc to raise the money. Or cut spending on education, health care, and public safety. The rest of state government is operating on a hope and prayer and not real oversite or enforcement. Mr. Wilt, Mr. Degner, and Mrs. Frank which of these two options do you favor? Our economy is growing slowly and will not generate additional revenue for roadbuilding in the near future. The roads need to be fixed now. If you won’t raise taxes what government agencies or programs are you in favor of reducing or eliminating? I want specifics please and not more sloganeering about being in favor of limited government or being fiscally conservative. To me if a candidate is not capable of naming one agency or program to cut then they are not qualified for the office. Let me get you started. Eliminate the Governor’s opportunity fund which would save $10-20 million a year.

  7. Renee says:

    I think the candidates just need to make it very clear how they will vote on issues related to funding for the basics – education, transportation, etc. I want to know that they’ve thought it all through and aren’t just making generic statements we would hear from anyone running in their party. The state budget is very tight, and the candidates need to explain how they will specifically serve our region and what their priorities will be when voting how to spend funds.

    I would also like to hear about issues relating to local small businesses and farms.

    I think it would be good for them to outline what they think Lohr has and hasn’t done as our representative and how they would be similar to or different from him.

    It would also be good to know how they plan to keep up with local sentiment and communicate with their constituents while in office.

  8. Dany Fleming says:

    One of the critical issues is education. It’s complex and requires more than vague platitudes. Here’s what I’ve gathered from the candidate sites, so far.

    Tony Wilt
    The education statement on Tony Wilt’s site is, frankly, incoherent, uninformed and scary for education. I actually try to be fair and reserved. However, in this case, it’s hard to even debate his random, nonsensical sentences It appears education is just an after thought for Wilt.

    Paraphrasing Wilt’s site,education needs to adapt to keep up with the world (in some undefinable way) and that adaptation will have to be implemented without additional funding. It’s strictly a matter of squeezing out more efficiency from educations outdated ways (uh…what?.…does Wilt have some education insight that I’m clearly missing?).

    Also, Wilt says he’ll add more student and family responsibility. This, presumably, without more government intervention or funds. How does he plan on knowing what’s happening in people’s homes? That seems inconsistent with his less government approach.

    He did mention support for education tax credits (vouchers). That, I can debate. Anyone thinking minimal tax vouchers will help poor (or middle-class), rural or inner-city, under-resourced students is just agreeing to abandon those kids…. and be extremely worried if you have a special needs child. Like any private business or private school, voucher-driven schools will take public money and still be able to get rid of those kids “not supporting the company bottom line” – think health insurance companies making education decisions. If privatizing government responsibility is such a good idea, then does Wilt also support paying private security companies with public funds in order to provide police service? Because, that’s the analogy. Education is not a business – it’s our societal responsibility. I do support good and accountable charter school set-ups. They are still public schools. Howevef, that does not appear to be Wilt’s angle.

    Wilt says he supports police officers/sheriff deputies and will never question their actions without all the facts. Maybe he should also afford educators that same respect. I bet they’ll have some different ideas for hiim.

    Kai Degner
    Degner’s statement certainly gets the ear of educators – important, if you think that’s a valid place to start. He identifies state funding cuts and unfunded mandates in K-12 and higher ed. He also attaches schools/education to our local economic engine.

    Degner also points to the need for keeping a strong teaching workforce. Better compensation for the right results makes sense; telling educators to be more efficient with decreasing funds is not workable. This is certainly a debatable position and I hope Wilt wil offer his insight on this.

    From my experience and research, education (including ed administration) is not some inefficient money-dripping sieve. Ed administration waste is a smaller obstacle within the larger debate.

    What’s on Degner site seems to be consistent and coherent: education funding is a priority (civic and economic) and teachers are the educaiton engine. There’s lots more I think he needs to produce on education issues. However, at least I know where to begin the debate. How do you plan on providing better compensation that also answers public accountability concerns/needs? That’s hard – but it’s the $64,000 education question.

    Carolyn Frank
    I don’t know Frank’s position here. From my limited knowledge, she’s been supportive and involved in a number of youth programs. I know of one particular, very good youth education program for which she’s been an important support. That’s the right place to begin. However, the bigger solutions require putting together information in a comprehensive way. So, I’m anxious to hear Frank’s ideas.

    • Lowell Fulk says:

      I really appreciate your insight regarding educational issues Dany. I hope folks are paying attention.

    • Renee says:

      Thanks for the summary, Dany.

      • Dany Fleming says:

        Thanks, Lowell and Renee. Not surprisingly, my summaries ramble on – even longer than some candidate positions.

        On another front (though I’m not sure exactly which one), this is from Wilt’s site. It’s, presumably, after some thought and revisions!??! It leaves me speechless, which isn’t easy. Can anyone explain this?

        (Wilt on Economic Prosperity))
        “Among the other inalienable rights of our constitution is the pursuit of happiness. There is not right to have it. When we begin to guarantee one’s happiness, the free market system suffers. As a worker, I cannot demand the highest wage from my employer and then expect that employer to provide me with the cheapest product or service.

        I will do everything possible to avoid any additional taxes, on any front. I will do everything I can to reduce and eliminate current taxes. I will do everything I can to reduce or eliminate government regulations. I will support efforts to get government out of businesses better left to the private sector.”

        • City Citizen says:

          I wondered the same thing, Dany when I read that. I’m assuming it comes directly from Mr. Wilt and not campaign staff. This is another great example of why I feel it is so important that every candidate show up the open debates and forums before the election.

          Seeing things like this worry me when I imagine the author representing our area in Richmond.

    • teresa says:

      Dany has an excellent point. Education is a very tough issue…I usually tend to be more conservative, but I have to agree, Wilt just doesn’t seem to have everything together.

      I am entering into the teaching profession, but have spent the last year substituting (I am a math person) at a local high school in the Harrisonburg area. Thankfully, math is a high demand area, so I have been lucky enough to stay working as a sub on a regular basis and I have worked in all classrooms from the ones with students on modified diplomas to the classrooms where students are going into Va Tech’s Engineering program. I can attest to the fact that you cannot double the class sizes especially in the lower classes… the students already struggle and need more one on one attention and when they don’t get it they get frustrated and become disruptive and make it impossible for anyone else to learn and work.

      Also, in this area you can’t expect the parents to be more accountable to help their kids study…This area is so largely based off Agriculture the parents let their kids stay home from school so that they can help on the farms… I’ve had 3 different students tell me that on different occasions. I grew up outside of Richmond and even there, the parents all work, or in my case, my parents didn’t have the schooling to understand what I was doing after 9th grade and they couldn’t help. You just can’t expect parents to be able to give the students extra help as a means to solving the problem.

      Also, this no child left behind program is a great idea in theory; however, it will take lots of manpower to make it work, and quite honestly, nobody wants to work for free especially in this economy, so I’m not sure how they plan on making it a success when they keep cutting the budget.

      Maybe our politics should stop being politics for a few weeks and actually put themselves out there and get involved just so they know whats going on and how things really are instead of just trying to say the right things to gain peoples votes.

  9. Dany, most of Wilt’s website was hacked together to appeal to the least-common denominator of the voter: republicans.

    What I would suggest is a meeting where concerned citizens can devise a list of questions designed to test Wilt’s knowledge of government and the proper functions thereof.

    Unfortunately, many contributors to this site, even when given the ammunition to go after Republicans, whether candidates or incumbents, refuse to pull the trigger.

    Matt Lohr was a really good example when Gene was running against him.

  10. I quoted this the morning I found it last week…

    “I will do everything possible to avoid any additional taxes, on any front. I will do everything I can to reduce and eliminate current taxes.”

    I would ask him on his Facebook page to tell us what this means, but I apparently asked one too many questions he didn’t want to answer and blocked me from his Facebook page.


    Maybe you could join his politician page and post similar questions…I’m waiting until he’s on WSVA when the most number of voters will hear he doesn’t know much about government.

    • City Citizen says:

      I hope that ALL voters find the general lack of interest from the two more conservative candidates in providing us with a live and open debate or forum insulting. I understand scheduling conflicts, but considering the short election period, I question the importance of what they are doing with their time instead. This should be their top priority. Being delegate will take a lot of time and flexibility also. If they can’t do it now, in the midst of a campaign, what will motivate them after they are elected?

      Mr. Wilt stated in the DNR that he thought he could fully inform his voters in one debate. If everything he stands for could be covered in a couple hours, at most, we should all be worried.

      • City Citizen says:

        Well, it appears that Mr. Wilt’s “issues” page is back to a few sentences. Poof! I wonder if “new and improved” views on issues will appear shortly?

  11. Does anyone have the original text, compared to what is now up there? Seems like as much content, but the wording has changed, and still no concrete legislation he’s willing to introduce.

  12. This just received in email from Wilt’s campaign:

    You Are Cordially Invited
    To A Reception Honoring
    Tony Wilt
    Republican Candidate For
    Virginia House Of Delegates
    At The Home Of
    Senator Mark And Suzanne Obenshain
    1062 Wyndham Drive
    Harrisonburg, VA 22801
    With Special Guests,
    House Of Delegates Speaker
    William Howell
    Republican Party Of Virginia Chairman
    Pat Mullins
    Wednesday May, 26th
    5:30-7:30 pm
    Business Casual
    Please RSVP By Monday, May 24th to,
    Andrew Jones- 540-810-4462

    $50 (Individual Ticket)
    $75 (Couple)
    $100 (Sponsor-2 tickets to the reception and special recognition at the event)
    $250 (Patron-4 tickets to the reception and special recognition at the event)
    $500 (Benefactor-6 tickets to the reception and special recognition at the event)
    $1,000 (Grand Benefactor-10 tickets to the reception and special recognition at the event)
    $2,000 (Special Host15 tickets to the reception and special recognition at the event)

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