Lara Overy, a newcomer, faces incumbent Del. Monty Mason in the race. Overy’s answers are unedited and presented below.
The election takes place Nov. 3.
Read a completed questionnaire from Mason here.
1. What are the three major issues facing the 93rd District right now? How would you address those issues? Outline specific policy objectives.
Jobs, education and transportation are the three most important issues. Our businesses need a skilled workforce. Our schools and colleges need the resources to respond to those changing workforce needs and we need to ensure we are creating a pipeline of students into those career opportunities. Whether it is through marketing to middle and high school counselors, students and parents on career pathway opportunities or retraining displaced workers, we have to do a better job of promoting educational programs. Lastly, if we fix our transportation challenges so employees can get to and from their jobs and businesses can move their goods in and out of the Peninsula, the region will be more attractive to prospective businesses and those considering expansion. I would work with stakeholders to ensure I-64 expansion to Richmond because this would benefit every community on the Peninsula.
2. On a statewide level, what challenges do you think need to be addressed in the next legislative session? How would you address them?
I believe the same three issues describe above are important to the entire state of Virginia. We need to grow our economy, focus on education and fix transportation. The ideas I shared above apply across the state. I would address these problems by investing in K-12 education, introducing legislation to better align our current workforce programs with the needs of the business community and making sure that transportation dollars are spent wisely and effectively.
3. In 2014, a prolonged dispute over whether to accept federal Medicaid dollars as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act brought the state to the verge of a shutdown. In the 2015 legislative session, the issue received little attention. Will you advocate to accept the federal money or do you believe the decision not to accept the funds should remain? Explain your answer.
I would not have supported Medicaid expansion as it was presented. With no guarantee of permanent federal funding, and Virginia’s required balanced budget, expanding a program that could cost taxpayers as much as $2 billion per year is not fiscally responsible. Medicaid is a broken system that should be reformed, not expanded until we have the resources to pay for it long term. We should continue to strengthen our health care safety net to care for the truly needy. I would support ideas brought forward to ensure citizens in our community receive the care they need like increasing support for non-profit clinics like Lackey and Old Towne Medical Clinics.
4. Talk about your philosophy for how – or if – the state should fund public education. Be specific to these phases: pre-K, K-12 and higher education.
Education is a core function of state government. It will be a top priority for me as Delegate in the General Assembly.
Pre-K education – I believe Virginia has a unique opportunity to forge a new path on early childhood education. Our goal should not be to create a universal system for Pre-K that mirrors the current public school system. Instead, we should work with the private sector to create more options for parents that gives the flexibility when determining how to start their child’s educational journey. We can do this by breaking down barriers that prevent qualified teachers from finding good jobs at private providers, encourage the use of private providers for early childhood education and expand tax credits for those who invest in scholarship programs.
K-12 education – In the last three years, the House of Delegates has invested nearly $1 billion worth of new funding into K-12 education and funded two teacher pay raises. These are important steps forward and we must continue to build on this momentum. However, we must continue to be wise and responsible with taxpayer dollars. That means enacting reforms that make sure money is spent in the classroom and not on bureaucracy, putting an emphasis on the programs that work and testing innovative new ideas like strategic compensation and teacher career ladders. I support a number of bills my opponent voted against including education savings plans for children with special needs, expanding public charter schools and offering virtual learning programs to increase students’ opportunity. I support continuing to reform standards of learning and lower the number of tests required in the state. I would support more trade and technical learning in high schools to expand students’ knowledge of career opportunities.
Higher Education – I would ensure colleges have the resources needed to provide the skilled training needed to fill the jobs of today and the future. I would continue the fight to make college more affordable and accessible. I would protect the in state tuition slots to ensure they are going to Virginia taxpayers.
5. Why are you the best person to represent the constituents of the 93rd District?
As someone with business experience, experience in higher education, someone who was a single mother, working two jobs, and now as a wife and mother of three, I think I bring a unique perspective and will represent the diversity of the district in Richmond. The 93rd District needs and deserves effective representation in the House of Delegates. My opponent has not passed a single bill, not even on important issues like jobs, education and transportation. I will be successful at getting things done because I will join the majority in the House and I have already built key relationships with leaders in Richmond. My opponent has alienated half of the district and most of the leaders in the House.