The GOP is no party for honest men

This is the title of an article in the New York Times by columnist Paul Krugman. In it, he argues that Trump and his chief accomplices are lying to Americans about the effects of his proposed tax “reform” plan, which is a thinly-disguised series of tax breaks for the wealthy 1 percent, Wall Street banks and multinational corporations. Appallingly, our very own congressman, Dave Brat, who constantly reminds us that he “is an economist,” is one of the supporters of this package of tax breaks for the rich. You can read the article right here.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Two weeks ago, I said that it seems like every time I write this column, things in this country have gotten worse and worse. They’ve gotten worse. There has been zero progress on curbing gun violence, Trump is lying and flip-flopping on healthcare, he made an asinine decision on the Iran deal against the advice of his national security team and our partners, the humanitarian crisis continues in Puerto Rico, nothing has happened on DACA, there’s no budget, and the Congress is paralyzed by Republican infighting.

Liar-in-chief Donald Trump continues to amaze us every single day, just about every time he exhales, or tweets in the early morning hours from his golden throne. He will say virtually anything to try to distract the American people from the Mueller investigation into Russian collusion and the corruption of our last election. The Washington Post has reported that Trump has made 1,318 false or misleading claims over 263 days since what he termed “the largest inauguration in American history.”

The highlights of just this past week were the simply breathtaking lies that Trump uttered when talking about past Presidents’ respect for our fallen warriors, and even more unbelievable, using our dead Green Berets as political footballs, and lying about that, too. Richard Cohen writes in the Washington Post: “Donald Trump does not possess an ounce of compassion. He is reptilian, knowing only to show his fangs, hiss and attack.” This creature is a moral disgrace.

How does this prepare us for the upcoming election? Trump owns Republicans and they own Trump, from the national level right on down to the local level here in Virginia. You can see it for yourselves in what they’ve done and how they behave. Pence just parrots whatever Trump tells him to do. Sarah Huckabee Sanders covers up the lies with spin, Sessions lies to the Congress, Mnuchin lies to the people, Bannon built his career on lies, and, so it goes down the line.

Ed Gillespie lies by saying that Ralph Northam voted to defend “sanctuary cities” and allow MS 13 gangs back on the streets. There are no sanctuary cities in Virginia to defend. He wants to make Virginia “look more like states to our south.” Seriously? Does he mean states like Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana, which is totally broke? Several years ago, he headed the nationwide Republican effort, called REDMAP, to gerrymander the entire country, including North Carolina, where the courts concluded that the state imposed Jim Crow voting restrictions with “surgical precision.”

Jill Vogel wants to “… take back Virginia the way this president is going to take back this country!” That’s more like, backwards, if she gets elected. Vogel heads a law firm that represents some of the nation’s largest right wing super PACs and their related “social welfare” nonprofit organizations, which are allowed to shield their donors. Among them are Americans for Prosperity, part of the “dark money” political network established by the billionaire Koch brothers, and American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by Gillespie and GOP strategist Karl Rove. She was the author of the outrageous transvaginal ultrasound bill.

Aren’t we getting tired of all this lying?

Trump, and his ilk, are trying to divert our attention from the critical issues that are going to destroy our country under his so-called leadership. As well as being a lying, heartless, ignorant, childish, misogynistic, racist, bigoted slob, he’s incredibly cunning, in an incredibly evil way. When Senator John McCain, former Republican Presidential nominee, and Vietnam War hero, slammed “spurious nationalism” in his Liberty Medal speech, Trump retorted that “I’m being very nice. I’m being very, very nice. But at some point, I fight back, and it won’t be pretty.” Does this sound presidential? It sounds more like a petty gangster to me. Is this the model we want to hold up when rearing our children? Sad.

Make no mistake, America is in trouble. Intelligent citizens capable of critical thinking know that the ballot box is where we decide our communities’ and our country’s futures.

Our last chief executive, speaking in Richmond this past Thursday said, “the most important office in a democracy is not president, not governor, not mayor, it is the office of citizen, because in a democracy, ultimately you decide what kind of politics we have. You decide by what you do and what you don’t do. You decide by whether you are active or whether you are not. You decide whether to use your voice and your franchise to make things better, or whether you succumb to cynicism. The question for you tonight and over the next 19 days is, do you want a politics of division and destruction?—and distraction? Or, do you believe in a better kind of politics, one where we listen to each other and move this country forward?”

Get out and vote on Election Day, November 7th, so that our Republic may reverse the long, downward spiral to mediocrity that will assign us, as John McCain said, “to the ash heap of history.”

Mike McClary

Editors Note: This article has been reposted with the author’s permission, and originally appeared here.

Mom need good health care now

Melissa Dart for the 56th District. Endorsed by one tired parent who can see that Dart understands health care issues whereas her opponent, John McGuire, only makes vague statements about “cutting regulations.”

Dart has 20 years experience in the health care field, with a master’s in health administration and a commitment to see that 300,000 Virginians who are insured through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and 400,000 Virginians who are uninsured, have a chance at affordable and accessible health care.

My son was injured by a needle stick 15 months ago and is only now getting appropriate assessments of the nerve damage to his knee. At the rate he is receiving care, I can’t afford to be anything but a single issue voter, and I can’t afford to adopt a “wait-and-see” attitude about what John McGuire might mean or which regulations he wants to cut.

My son was placed on FAMIS (the state Children’s Health Insurance Program) because of his disability, although I had applied for health insurance for him through the exchange. He has already been placed on FAMIS again for 2018; again, I did not re-apply and the decision was made without my input, meaning that his only option to access health care is through FAMIS/Medicaid.

I am a self-employed business owner. I am only able to apply for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. I am also an older parent, and concerned about possible leaps in premiums for my age group. Vague statements about regulations do nothing to inspire my confidence.

Candidate John McGuire has worked hard to overcome obstacles including a potentially devastating spinal injury. In order to make that unusual comeback, he benefitted from some sort of health care access. Many people with disabilities do not have the great fortune that Mr. McGuire has had.

I would like my son, whose prognosis for recovery has been severely affected by how long it has taken for him to obtain treatment (nerve injuries have a very limited window for regrowth and repair) to have the same chance at accessing health care so that he, too, can recover, if possible.

Paula C. Durbin-Westby

Editor’s Note: This originally appeared in the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted with the author’s permission, and is only available on-line to paying subscribers, or here.


How we elect candidates

For many, voting is the path of least resistance — strictly along Party and tribal lines. Meanwhile, conscientious voters are busy following Jim Hogan’s advice in his October 5th letter, to “find outwhat [candidates] really stand for,” starting with going to their web pages.

Something that Tammy Purcell touched upon in her September 28th letter, saying that Republican John McGuire (56th) offers nothing but “lofty platitudes” and “scant insight into policy positions.” A lack of substance which becomes even more pronounced on his Facebook page; where absolutely no effort is made to let voters know where he will be in Louisa County, or anywhere else for that matter.

Filled with images of him hobnobbing with the wealthy minded, strutting around like bantam rooster lest he be exposed as an astroturfed fraud.  Perhaps why the head of the Louisa Republican party isn’t putting up his banners, and reportedly would rather “talk to a teapot”.

Take the upcoming candidates meet and greet on October 24th at the VFW, sponsored by the Louisa Chamber of Commerce, where McGuire hasn’t bothered to respond if he would be attending.  And unlike the recently concluded Celebrating Democracy Days at Louisa High School, where students were required to participate and ask questions, this promises to be a dog and pony show heavily attended by the local faithful who will have little if any interest in stepping out of their echo chamber.

In-actions which make a mockery of Regina Cook, the chamber’s executive director earlier remarks about their May forum that “You don’t want to be too critical with your questions, and …. We wanted it to be collegial.” And that was after she was reportedly proposed to water this event down from a debate to a meet and greet.

And they are actions which reflect the Chambers and local conservative’s attitudes towards authority figures. Meanwhile their obeisance to respecting said “authoritah ” dovetails effortlessly with other prevailing local attitudes; like getting along to go along, and it is precisely why it promises to be an uninformative event.

And while her comments last month, that “most constituents are largely unaware of the [candidates]” are true, it’s also highly misleading. Because it’s not the Chamber’s problem, it’s the candidate’s responsibility to get that information out.

Nor is this attitude limited to this event, as the previously dormant Mineral Industrial Development Corporation is sponsoring an October 19th candidate debate at Louisa High School. And in their letter to the candidates they gave all the candidates a September 26th deadline to respond.

When Willie Harper, who previously held the Mineral district Supervisor seat and one of the organizers of this debate, was asked if they would be extending that deadline for McGuire, he responded with “We’d like to have as many candidates as possible.”

Perhaps, but such flexibility doesn’t instill much confidence in their claims to be primarily interested in informing the people of Louisa County about the candidates. In many respects, it seems more like an attempt to support preferred candidates; like Duane Adams, while pretending to inform the people.  Much like the Tea Party sponsored debate last June in Goochland, an attempt to create the perception of widespread support with “just –in-time candidate exposure.”

And since the Central Virginian declined to cover this earlier debate, perhaps they will do a better job of informing their readers as they moderate this debate featuring supervisor candidates from the Mineral and Green Springs Districts along with 56th District House of Delegate’s candidate Melissa Dart.

Who show up to take your questions and will represent you in the General Assembly, and deserves your vote in November.

Jon Taylor

Editor’s note: This is an expanded version of a letter submitted to Louisa County’s paper of record, the Central Virginian, and is only available on-line to paying subscribers, or here.

Is America great again, yet?

Lately, it seems like every time I write this column, things in this country have gotten worse and worse.

Guns, guns, guns: Our country is awash in them—one estimate says there are more than 310 million—more than enough for one for every man, woman and child. The 4th Circuit Court has noted, “in 2012, the number of AR- and AK-style weapons manufactured and imported into the United States was more than double the number of Ford F-150 trucks sold, the most commonly sold vehicle in the United States.” My apologies to those who hunt deer, but did you know that the 5.56 mm NATO round bullets, used by the Las Vegas murderer in the largest mass shooting in our history—the 273rd such of this year alone—were specifically designed to kill people? When they strike flesh, they tumble instead of going straight through the body like the single shot of a hunting bullet would, thereby creating massive traumatic wounds that, if they don’t kill, will certainly maim. That’s what you want in war. It’s not what you want in your venison, or in the streets of an American city like Las Vegas where people were sticking fingers and hands into the wounds of victims trying to keep them from bleeding out.

In this country, if you stay healthy and active, are careful, avoid hard drug and alcohol abuse and drive defensively, then you are most likely to die from assault by firearms. (

Russia, Russia, Russia: Facebook has turned over to Congress 3,000 Russia-linked ads that were intended to set factions against each other in key states because Vladimir Putin preferred Donald Trump. Google and Twitter are contemplating similar actions. The Congressional intelligence committees have concluded that Russia certainly meddled in our elections, but that the jury is still out on collusion with Trump campaign officials. Speaking of investigations, Robert Mueller is quietly and doggedly continuing his work.

Meanwhile, chaos continues to reign at the top levels of the American government, the largest economy in the world, the country that used to call itself the center of the Free World, the place that Ronald Reagan called “the shining city on the hill. The current occupant of the Oval Office has chided his Secretary of State regarding North Korea policy, not with a well-argued paper from the National Security Council, but with a juvenile tweet. Last Wednesday, the State Department actually had to deny that Secretary Rex Tillerson called the Trump a moron. Trump chided Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Moscow investigations. The head of the FBI was fired earlier this year, not for a breach of duty, but because Trump wanted loyalty, not professionalism. Finally, he fired Secretary of Health and Human Services for ethics violations after the press dogged his use of public funds for private plane flights. Trump is doing a fine job, attacking sport players for protesting the killing of unarmed African-Americans, picking on the mayor of San Juan, sending “warm condolences” to the victims in Las Vegas, bragging from his golf club in Bedminster that he will rain fire and fury on North Korea, and throwing paper towels to hurricane victims.

Trump’s asinine rantings, plus those of his counterpart, Kim Jung Un, both of whom have their fingers on the triggers of their nations’ nuclear arsenals, as well as threats of undoing the international agreement that stopped Iran’s nuclear program in its tracks, have led the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to move the minute hand on their famous Doomsday Clock to two and a half minutes to “midnight,” the closest it’s been to nuclear holocaust since the United States and the Soviet Union developed the hydrogen bomb in the early ‘50s.

There’s not enough space to talk about our government’s unimpressive response to three hurricanes in a row, the healthcare debacle or the looming “tax reform” battle to benefit the rich. The last few months have proven that old adage, “elections have consequences.”

If you believe in democracy, then you need to participate in its practice. This means becoming and staying informed on the issues. It means supporting the candidates you believe in, not only with money, since we don’t have short, publicly-financed campaigns like they do in the United Kingdom, but also with your time and effort, through canvassing and phone-banking, as well as organizing and participating in fundraisers.

If you want to see America return to the values embodied in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, you only have eight more days to register to vote, and then you had better energize, vote and send packing the bought-and-paid-for politicians who serve only their rich corporate masters. Take care who you vote for at every level in our society, beginning with Culpeper’s local elections right up through the state and federal levels and into the Oval Office. It’s time for the people to demand that their elected representatives serve them for a change. If you don’t vote, don’t complain.

Mike McClary

Editors Note: This article has been reposted with the author’s permission, and originally appeared here.

Taxes – a necessary evil

Recently Senator John McCain informed the Senate that he could not support the current proposed revision to the Affordable Care Act. McCain’s reasoning was based on many factors, most importantly that millions would either lose healthcare or would not be able to afford it, especially those with preexisting conditions.

Here in Virginia, lower income families have already been denied insurance by the Republican controlled legislature who refused to expand Medicaid even though the federal government was going to pay for it.

Now, we in Virginia, have a gubernatorial candidate— Ed Gillespie—who supports the financial cutbacks in healthcare, even though almost all medical organizations in existence here in the U.S. say it is a horrible plan. Not only does he support the federal cutbacks, even though Republicans want to put responsibility for healthcare on the states, he also wants to cut taxes.

This will be on top of President Trump’s proposed tax cuts. That sounds great doesn’t it? Tax cut promises are one of most used political ploys to get votes. Tax cuts always sound great until it is time to pay the bills. It sounded great when Governor Jim Gilmore implemented a tax cut on vehicles, but it didn’t take long after that for Virginia to run into the red, unable to pay our bills. Other taxes had to be implemented and the car tax relief was modified.

I don’t know of anyone who wants to pay taxes, but almost everyone I know wants good police protection, good fire and rescue responders, top notch teachers and schools, good roads and affordable healthcare. All of these cannot be paid for if insufficient funds are not collected to pay for them. Currently, Virginia does not have enough police officers or teachers to fill jobs because we do not pay them enough.

Ralph Northam isn’t seeking tax cuts. He’s seeking to improve our healthcare system for all Virginians. He isn’t seeking to take money from our public schools. He is seeking to find ways for ALL of our children to get a quality education. Despite what Gillespie says, Virginia is doing just fine. Several new businesses have come to Virginia and our unemployment rate is 3.8 percent—one of the lowest in the nation. Why vote against a good thing? Vote for Northam.

Deanna Nicosia

Editor’s note: This letter which appeared in the October 5th edition of the Central Virginian has been reposted with the author’s permission and is only available online to paying subscribers, or here.


Looking at the issues

This November, for the first time in eight years, Louisa County residents have a choice in who represents us in the House of Delegates.

Both Melissa Dart, the Democratic nominee, and John McGuire, the Republican nominee, are political newcomers. Neither enjoys the clout of incumbency and neither possesses a clear political record.

As these candidates vie to be our voice in Richmond, we deserve to know where they stand on the critical issues that affect our lives.

On her website and in her campaign outreach, Melissa Dart makes her vision clear.

As a mother of three and a member of the Henrico County Special Education Advisory Committee, Melissa is fiercely committed to protecting funding for our public schools. Over the last eight years, Virginia’s school systems have endured nearly $800 million in state budget cuts. Melissa knows our families deserve better.

Here in Louisa County, public schools are integral to our community and a point of civic pride. Our teachers shouldn’t face overcrowded classrooms or struggle to buy necessary supplies. Our kids’ needs shouldn’t go unmet because of out-of-touch politicians in Richmond.

Melissa believes in investing in an economy that works for all of us and not just large corporations and wealthy elites. She will fight for infrastructure that improves broadband access in rural areas, a key to increasing economic opportunity for folks across Louisa County.

In this same vein, Melissa understands that Virginia must initiate and support specialized training programs that equip workers with skills for today and tomorrow. With the introduction of solar farms to Louisa County, a green economy is emerging around us. Melissa wants to ensure that local workers are prepared to build the infrastructure of the future.

When it comes to education, infrastructure, economic development and other vital issues, Melissa Dart is unafraid to take a stand. She has a strong platform built on commonsense solutions and crafted to improve the quality of life in our community.

John McGuire, on the other hand, offers scant insight into his policy positions.

On his website, he provides little more than platitudes. Lofty pronouncements like “overhauling our current regulatory scheme” and supporting “public stewards” in “their noble cause” sound nice, but what do they mean?

John doesn’t bother to mention public education or rural broadband access. Does he fail to grasp the importance of these issues?

As Nov. 7 approaches, I urge all Louisa residents to look beyond party lines and political theatrics and focus on the local issues that have a real and lasting impact on our lives.

Louisa deserves a delegate with practical knowledge and tangible ideas who will fight hard for us in Richmond. Melissa Dart has a sound plan. John McGuire does not.

Tammy Purcell Louisa

Editor’s note: This article has been reposted with the author’s permission, and appeared in the 9-28-17 edition of  the Central Virginian, and is only available on-line to paying subscribers, or here.

The Conservative Myth

In the upcoming elections, voters must choose candidates for public office based upon their values, authenticity and trusts. And the radical authoritarian right wing Koch brother’s front group, Americans for Prosperity, is wasting no time mailing out their deceptive propaganda. Expecting voters to believe that they are preserving and promoting American values and yet their actions trample our values and deconstruct the government agencies responsible for protecting our citizens.

In “Conservative” economic mythology the earth resources exist for human profit and for us to consume. Promoting the idea that if natural resources are not privatized, then they are of no value…. The land, water and air that we cherish are being destroyed by “conservatives” who promote privatization and deregulation as a virtue instead of a responsibility of the government to protect our common wealth.

The outsourcing of American elections through wealthy campaign contributors has made profit making our governments primary mission, and spending on public good and safety no longer one of their goals. For example, climate change is happening, yet the “Conservative” agenda is to bury scientific evidence, stop conducting research, gag government agencies and cut budgets for those investigating it, acerbating this global crisis even further.

In the “Conservative” free market world we find multi-billion dollar government bailouts, legalized bribery by lobbyist, and subsidies for industries, plus the auctioning of common wealth land, water, oil rights, etc., to corporations at a fraction of the cost of what privately owned resources cost.

Business decisions and markets driven by profits will often affect human health and life, a subject outside the scope of conservative moral judgments.

In contrast, Progressives believe that markets should serve human values, that government regulations protect the public from harmful products and fraud, they believe in fair taxation wherein the wealthy should pay more to nourish and replenish the common wealth they benefit from, and they believe in a balance of power between worker’s and corporation owners to insure a healthy workplace.

Clean drinking water and air quality are NOT commodities and industry should not decide how much contaminants American’s ingest. Progressives see fundamental freedoms of markets exist for the common good, the freedom to earn a living wage, freedom from expensive healthcare, freedom from ignorance, freedom from bigotry, hate, and fear, and the preservation of our natural world.

Conservatives see these freedoms as interferences.

So here we are at the beginning of another election cycle filled with the Conservative myths of free markets and deregulation. Do we vote for a “Conservative” party candidate intent on lowering labor costs, providing less health care coverage, abolishing environmental protections, and letting the taxpayer pay for corporate profits?

Or do we vote for a Progressive candidate whom claims the moral responsibility to care for others, believes in using common wealth for the common good not for the wealthy, and believes in protecting the natural and individual resources we share? Your vote IS VERY important for our future.

Mark S. Chapman

Editor’s note: This article has been reposted with the author’s permission, and appeared in the September 28th edition of the Central Virginian, and is only available online to paid subscribers.


Resist Persist and Insist

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few weeks, you know that Senate Republicans have resurrected another version of wealth care, better known as Graham-Cassidy that like their previous plans wouldn’t start until the end of 2019.

Because they want to avoid being blamed for massive health insurance rate hikes until after the 2018 midterms were over.  And there will be rate hikes next year because of their actions, or more appropriately inaction.

Unlike their past bills, Senate Republicans didn’t include any specific appropriations for Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) reimbursement payments to insurance carriers on the individual market exchanges in this round of zombie care.

Because there is no specific appropriation of CSR funds for the next two years, some carriers are dropping out, specifically citing uncertainty in being paid. Those who are sticking around are jacking up their rates dramatically to cover themselves with an average increase of fourteen percent to cover potential losses.

And our President has been threatening to pull the plug on CSR’s very month since March. And should this bill pass, unless the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee (HELP) can find a way to appropriate them separately, there won’t be any CSR payments in 2018

So when you hear Republicans talk about how affordable health care needs to be turned over to the states to make it more “cost efficient,” remember which Party has been sabotaging it ever since the ACA’s inception.  Like trying to pass it without proper hearings — or a score from the Congressional Budget Office, hoping to pass it via reconciliation with only a simple majority (51) — but reconciliation ends Saturday, the 30th.

Since they can start reconciliation anew in January, with meaner version getting scored by the CBO, with proper hearings and debate, and still pass with a simple majority, why all fuss? Because they just might pass it, even in the face of overwhelming opposition from medical associations and the American people.

Unlike Senator Chuck Grassley, claiming “You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered,” along with “But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill.

And when that substance is toxic, what does it say about their policy free philosophy? So how should the American people respond to a dysfunctional Party determined to take us back to the days of the Robber Barons, using the “savings” from cutting health care to fulfill their plutocratic master’s desire for more tax breaks?

By Resisting — Persisting — and Insisting in this year’s state and local elections, particularly the 56th District race, where Melissa Dart will represent your interests far better than Peter Farrell…ahem McGuire could.

Lewalta Haney

Editor’s note: This article has been reposted with the author’s permission, and this is the version that was submitted to Louisa County’s paper of record, the Central Virginian, not the heavily redacted version which appeared in their October 5th edition.


Transparency in Health Care

It is interesting to review some American history as we ponder our concerns about health care delivery in the United States. Going way back there was a short lived health care system of national medical care, with federal government involvement, in the South. In the 20th century the United States was influenced by progressive initiatives for universal coverage supported by a Republican presidential candidate.  Theodore Roosevelt (R), in 1933, and Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) included publicly funded health care programs while drafting provisions to Social Security legislation.  This was eliminated in the final product.

In 1949 President Harry S. Truman (D) proposed universal health care, Lyndon B. Johnson’s (D) proposals created Medicare and Medicaid, and proposals by Ted Kennedy (D) and President Richard Nixon (R) promoted variations of universal health care along with Democrats Jimmy Carter, Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.  President Barack Obama’s universal health care plan became law with the passage of the Affordable Care Act signed in March 2010.  The provision of universal health care has been a centerpiece of political campaigning since then.

Melissa Dart is a candidate for District 56 of the Virginia House of Delegates election.  In addition to being a strong supporter of improved education for our children, Dart has a vast knowledge of how our health care delivery systems work and understands the difference between “access” and affordability.  Melissa holds a Master’s of Science in Health Administration from VCU, has 20 years of experience in healthcare administration, finance, reimbursement, and recognizes the changes necessary to improve the Affordable Care Act.  It is a fact that doctors and hospitals are incentivized to treat illness rather than maintain health.  We, the public, need more transparency in the delivery of our health care so we can keep Virginians and all Americans healthier and have more money in our pockets.  Vote for Melissa Dart on November 7.

Kathy Zeiler, RN, Retired Veterans Affairs Hospital Administrator

Editor’s note: This article has been reposted with the author’s permission, and is a preview of a letter submitted to Louisa County’s paper of record, the Central Virginian, where after 3 weeks it was finally published under a different title in their 10-12 issue, and is only available online to paying subscribers, or here.

What Explains Hixon’s Growing Support?

Ben Hixon’s campaign to represent Culpeper in Virginia’s 30th House of Delegates district has been gathering momentum in recent weeks.  Finance reports released last week by the State Board of Elections confirm an impressive showing of grassroots support for Hixon. He took in $26,000 during July and August, not only doubling the total raised by sitting Delegate Freitas, but also bringing in three times the total number of contributions.

“This just shows that when you stay in your district and you focus on the issues that are important to the people who live here, they appreciate it,” Hixon said in a statement after the reports were released. “It’s not about whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat.  I’ve been knocking on doors here every single day, and the people I talk to know we need vocational training and reliable internet so our kids can succeed and businesses here have the freedom to grow.

Ben Hixon is one of a new generation of Virginia candidates who eschew traditional party politics to focus on the needs of their constituents.  He is a computer programmer and former National Science Foundation research fellow, and his campaign has focused on bringing freedom and opportunity back to the district by making vocational training and reliable internet access its top priority.

Hixon’s focus on the issues important to our district stands in stark contrast to the incumbent.  Lately, Delegate Freitas has been all over the state:  a winery in Winchester, a distillery in Afton, Liberty University, a photo-op at George Mason. Maybe he would be better off in the U.S. Senate, which the newly-launched Draft Freitas website and Facebook page lead me to believe he’s eyeing a run for, or maybe he’s just doing it for the PAC money – Raytheon PAC, Realtors PAC of Virginia, and Dominion Power all eagerly contributed to his campaign according to the new report. Meanwhile, Ben Hixon has signed a pledge to refuse all campaign contributions from Dominion Power.

I urge readers to check out Hixon’s Facebook page (Ben Hixon for Delegate) where you can hear him discuss the issues in his own words in the videos he records when he’s out knocking on doors.  Here are a few sound bites:

Let’s talk about the party system.  Whether I’m a Democrat or a Republican, that’s not something I usually get asked at the doors.  It’s not something a lot of people care about here.  When we get stuck in our camps, when we disagree with someone simply because we’re in a different camp, that’s when nothing gets done.  That’s what’s wrong with politics today.  We’re stronger as a party and as a country when we can rationally disagree with each other.  It’s not about who’s right, it’s about what’s right.”

“[One of my constituents] has four kids, aged 14, 15, 16, and 17.  Not all her kids want to go to college.  Not everybody needs a four-year degree.  We need carpenters, plumbers, electricians, computer programmers, let’s give them the skills they need to succeed.”

“[One of my constituents] Just moved here from Korea.  He says we don’t even know what fast internet is.  Their infrastructure is so much better than ours.  That’s criminal in the 21st century.  Reliable, high-speed internet is necessary to work from home, to do our homework, to get jobs, to keep our property values from diminishing.  I’m going to work to build rural broadband internet for everybody.”

The opioid crisis is clearly one of Virginia’s most urgent issues. We must fight the disease of addiction as a community, working together to educate one another on drug safety, alternate coping mechanisms, treatment options, mental health and family services, and Good Samaritan laws. Law enforcement, emergency response teams, social service agencies, schools, clinics, hospitals, and treatment centers should work hand-in-hand to share information, resources, and best practices to address this crisis.”

You can find detailed discussions of Ben Hixon’s views on the issues important to the people of Culpeper on his website,  Check them out.  Do your own research.  Become informed. See what you think about Hixon’s growing support.  And, be sure to vote on November 7th.

Mike McClary

Editor’s note: This article has been reposted with the author’s permission, and was originally scheduled to appear in the September 23rd edition of the Culpeper Star Exponent, but for some reason was delayed until the 26th, where it now appears online.