WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.
As this November’s election looms on the horizon, three candidates are preparing to define their future plans for the region.
In a public forum Thursday night, the candidates running for the 1st District of Virginia Senate seat in a special election will set their stances on local issues. The forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Williamsburg Area, will take place at 7 p.m at the Williamsburg Regional Library Theater.
The winning candidate will represent the City of Williamsburg, parts of James City County and York County, and parts of Newport News, Hampton, and Suffolk in the upper house of the General Assembly.
This year’s election comes seven months after former 1st District Sen. John Miller unexpectedly passed away in April, leaving the historically-Democratic seat vacant. Miller was re-elected for his third four-year term in 2015.
The following profiles have been arranged in order of campaign financing, from greatest to least.
Del. Monty Mason, elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2015 to the 93rd district as a Democrat, has worked with banks and their customers to prevent fraud as an employee at Visa Inc. He lives in Williamsburg with his wife Pamela and their two daughters. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, Mason’s campaign has raised $104,976 since Jan. 1, 2016. The campaign has $71,822 in expenditures in the same period.
Mason on the economy: “Well there’s always a lot of talk in politics about jobs. It’s about making the right environment. The biggest opportunity we have is the expansion of Jefferson Labs, just under a billion dollars of investment. It will provide just under 5,000 new high-paying jobs in Virginia. That’s a specific project we’ve been working on.” Del. Mason’s takeaway: “We’ve got it [economic opportunity] sitting right here, we just need to figure out how to capitalize on it.”
On healthcare: “We should expand healthcare.” Mason supports the expansion of Medicare and Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. “We have got to continue to work towards some sort of compromise that takes advantage of the expansion.”
On gun control: “Well, I am a supporter and defender of the 2nd Amendment, but the country was built on the 1st Amendment. The 1st Amendment is not absolute. There can be adjustments made to our rights.” Del. Mason’s takeaway: “Having background checks to buy guns should not be a problem.”
On infrastructure: “We have to look out for these projects that are $15 million to $20 million, for example, that localities struggle to carry the burden, but aren’t going to rise to the funding level [of] the state House Bill 2 (2014).”
On the presidential race: “That’s an easy one. I’m supporting the only qualified candidate in the race, Hillary Clinton.”
Thomas Holston, a former employee of the Hampton Police Department and Newport News Fire Department, retired from a career in public safety in 1990. Holston served on the Newport News Disability Board for 10 years and has worked with schools to increase their accessibility for handicapped youth. He has four children with his wife, Frances, who is a school teacher. The Thomas Holston for Senate campaign has raised $1,085 since Jan. 1, 2016. The campaign has $200 in expenditures in the same period.
Holston on the economy: “We’re losing businesses because they’re going down to North Carolina because they cut their taxes by half. And there’s some regulation that we need to change, too. If you buy equipment in New Jersey, you pay taxes there and you’re gonna have to pay taxes in Virginia. Businesses shouldn’t have to go through the trouble of paying taxes in two states. That’s not fair to business.” Holston’s takeaway: “We need to lower the business tax.”
On healthcare: “We need to look at how much hospitals and drug companies are charging people. A part of that problem is the Obamacare, you’re paying for more insurance, but every time you pay for more insurance, they take an item from you. They generally take something away from you.”
On gun control: “My belief is this, the 2nd Amendment says that we’re allowed to bear arms. It doesn’t say that we can’t have assault weapons. It’s not about the clips or the assault weapons. The problem is that with gun control, if they effectively used the laws we have right now, there wouldn’t be as many problems.” Holston’s takeaway: “Nowadays you almost have to carry a weapon, it’s sad.”
On infrastructure: “My concern is congestion that we have around here. They’re adding some new road on I-64 down from Richmond. We also need to build a new tunnel. Cost effectively, it would be cheaper to build a bridge, and it would be better. I’d push for a new bridge, that way there could be a ramp going up the Portsmouth side. If it’s faster and they finally build up that area around portion of Portsmouth with the new port, it would generate a little more jobs over there if they’ve got more stuff coming in.”
On the presidential race: “Oh lord, I’m a Republican, so I’m actually supporting Trump. This is going to be a historical [sic] election. There’s more people signing up to vote this year, which is good for democracy. I think it’s about time people woke up and realize their vote counts.”
John Bloom, a nuclear and environmental engineer, ran as a Republican in the 95th District general election in 2013, when he lost to incumbent Democrat Mamye BaCote. He is the ballot access coordinator for the Constitution Party of Virginia. The John Bloom for Senate campaign has raised $355 since Jan. 1, 2016. The campaign has $317 in expenditures in the same period.
Bloom on the economy: “First thing we have got to do is take a look at all the regulations, [we have] got to take a look at the transportation system. We need to have people held accountable. The constant fluctuation of employment has to be arrested and we need to have a stable employment structure.” Bloom says he is a supporter of mining nuclear material in Virginia as a job creation mechanism. Bloom’s takeaway: “I want to help and support any employment efforts in this state.”
On healthcare: “The biggest problem we have is that we don’t need medicare expansion. It’s hard for me as a constitutional conservative to separate healthcare from the economy. Look at Obamacare, their website initially cost $500,000,000 and it didn’t sell healthcare…If you allow people to go directly to the insurance companies or the doctors, that would be the better way.” Bloom’s takeaway: “Get the government out of that, and out of healthcare entirely.”
On gun control: “We have enough gun control. We need to take a look at what gun controls we have and we need to remove some of them. There are probably more people killed in Chicago last year than Afghanistan. We should not restrict the rights of law abiding citizens to hold guns. The only question I have is how to keep the mentally ill from having a gun.”
On infrastructure: “First of all the bridges and tunnels, I’d have everything finance with revenue bonds for the revenue that we collect for increasing the capacity of the tunnels.”
On the presidential race: “Hillary Clinton, I will listen to the FBI Director, he said that there was a possibility that hostile actors have information from the Hillary Clinton server. For me, Hillary Clinton is a non-starter, and a national security threat.” On Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump, Bloom said, “The man’s a pathological liar, and a sexual predator.” Bloom said he supported Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, but now supports Darrell Castle, the official candidate of the Constitution Party.