Republicans choose outsider to face Mason in November

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Thomas Holston (Kirsten Petersen/ WYDaily)
Thomas Holston (Kirsten Petersen/ WYDaily)

Thomas R. Holston understands he’s not a household name in Williamsburg.

But in his bid for a seat in the Virginia Senate—the late John Miller’s seat—Holston said he’ll do what it takes to make sure the Historic Triangle knows who he is by the time he faces Monty Mason in the November general election.

“I know I’m going against a strong opponent. I know I’ve got a long fight. He’s quite well known and I’m not,” Holston said. “If I have to go to every door in Williamsburg…I will go to every door and talk to somebody.”

Holston, 62, of Newport News, will represent the Republican party in the race for the 1st District Senate seat. Retired since 1990—a career as a firefighter was cut short after he had a heart attack—Holston decided to make his first run for office in May, a month after Miller died.

“Things are happening around us,” Holston said. “I want to make sure when my children and other children grow up, they can go out and find a job and that this school system is the best in the country.”

He met with Cliff Dunn and Jeff Ryer from the Republican Party of Virginia in early June and was nominated at a meeting of Newport News Republicans not long after. Candidates seeking nomination typically pay a $1,000 fee —Holston said he was the only person interested in running and the party covered his expenses.

“Their beliefs are my beliefs,” Holston said of Dunn and Ryer. “When I left the meeting, I knew I would be nominated.”

He said the three most important issues facing the 1st District, which includes the City of Williamsburg and parts of James City and York counties, are the economy, transportation and gun control.

If elected to the Senate, Holston said he would advocate for more money to go toward schools, specifically vocational programs that would help students get jobs. He supported tolls on new roads and improving infrastructure to boost the tourism economy.

He said it is impossible to achieve complete gun control, but said measures like tightening concealed weapon permits and enhancing the screening process can make a difference.

“It’s called safety,” Holston said. “It’s not the guns that kill people. It’s people who kill people.”

He said he would also be an advocate in the Senate for children with disabilities—he served on the Newport News Disability Board for 10 years and previously worked with schools to improve accessibility for handicapped children.

Holston is still putting together his campaign staff—he recently brought on a treasurer and is looking for a campaign manager—but said facing a candidate like Mason, currently the 93rd District representative in the Virginia House of Delegates, motivates him to work harder.

“I’m passionate about what I want to do. It’s time for a new face in Richmond,” Holston said. “I want to see Virginia prosper and be the number one state in education, and I think we can.”

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