Making Democracy Work

Voter Guide 2014

Senate, Constitutional Amendment, House of Representatives--9th Congressional District, Christiansburg Town Council

In addition to voting for an amendment to the Virginia Constitution, 2014 Montgomery County voters will be voting for a candidate to represent Virginia in the U. S. Senate and a candidate for the 9th Congressional District. In addition, voters from the Town of Christiansburg will vote for candidates for a seat on Town Council.

Voter Guide: U.S. Senate

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Responses to League Questions:

When the Supreme Court invalidated Section 5 of the Voters Rights Act (VRA) it allowed Congress to legislatively update it. What measures, if any, would you support to update it? Explain.

Edward W. Gillespie: I do not support revisiting the preclearance requirements the U.S. Supreme Court struck down. The VRA remains largely intact and I am confident that voter discrimination can be prosecuted, as it should be.

Mark R. Warner: The right to vote is fundamental to being an American. My FAST Act will create a grant program that encourages states to simplify voter registration and implement best practices to expedite voting. I also support the bipartisan Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014, which allows federal courts to retain jurisdiction in specific circumstances.

Robert C. Sarvis: The 14th and 15th Amendments rightly give the federal government power to ensure due process, equal protection, and voting rights. The VRA exercised the power to ensure voting rights for all. Congress must remain VIGILANT and investigate every credible allegation of misconduct that jeopardizes any citizen's right to vote.

What should the federal government's top 3 priorities be in setting energy policy?
Edward W. Gillespie: Lowering energy costs for families and businesses, creating high-paying energy jobs in Virginia and moving our nation closer to energy independence. For the 1.2 million Virginia households making less than $50,000, energy costs consume 20% of their incomes. Policies restricting our energy potential only make the economic pinch worse for them.

Mark R. Warner: I believe that we need an all-of-the-above approach to meeting our energy challenges while addressing issues around climate change in a thoughtful and responsible way. This includes a balanced mix of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, offshore energy sources, safe nuclear power, and cleaner coal and gas technology.

Robert C. Sarvis: " There are no solutions, only tradeoffs..." (Thomas Sowell, economist)
1. Open and competitive markets in energy. No cronyism. 2. Liability rules and market-based policies to force polluters to price-in environmental harms. 3. No government subsidies or top-down, command-and-control regulations. If anything, innovation prizes open to all.

In light of recent Supreme Court decisions would you propose updates or changes to the current campaign finance system? Explain your position
Edward W. Gillespie: Our system would be better off restoring the role of political parties in the process, as they have greater transparency and accountability compared to outside groups. This would diminish the role of participants whose motives are not always apparent. I would support reforms that focus on disclosure rather than further limitations on spending.

Mark R. Warner: I believe the Supreme Court got it wrong with its Citizens United decision, and it has unleashed a torrent of unlimited, special interest money into elections. That's wrong. People deserve to know who is funding political ads. That's why I am a cosponsor of the DISCLOSE Act, which would provide for more transparency in campaign financing.

Robert C. Sarvis: I have now run, as a political outsider, in a state election with NO campaign limits and in a federal election with STRICT limits. I can attest: low, strict donation limits make it HARDER for outsiders to win. Indeed, limits arose because the establishment wanted no more well-funded upstarts like Gene McCarthy (who toppled LBJ).

What are your legislative priorities, if elected?
Edward W. Gillespie: To ease the economic squeeze felt by Virginians, I've proposed pro-growth agenda that would foster job creation, raise take-home-pay and lower the prices for health care, energy and food. It would replace Obamacare, unleash our energy potential, implement tax and regulatory relief, reform our education system, and cut wasteful spending.

Mark R. Warner: In America, everyone should get a fair shot at success. I'm running to make sure folks get the same opportunity I had. As Governor and Senator, I've taken a bipartisan approach and will continue reaching across the aisle to tackle student debt, incentivize companies to bring jobs home, reform the VA and get our debt and deficit under control.

Robert C. Sarvis: Control spending and balance the budget in an equitable manner. Restore democratic accountability by reining in the administrative agencies' rule-making powers. Reduce partisanship and push policies that Rs and Ds can agree on. Promote civil liberties and a government ethic based on trust in We the People. Enact term limits and electoral reform.

Voter Guide: Proposed Constitutional Amendment

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Explanation of Proposed Constitutional Amendment

The proposed amendment would authorize the General Assembly to exempt from taxation the real property of any surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces who was killed in action, as determined by the US Department of Defense. The exemption would apply to the spouse's principal place of residence even if the surviving spouse moves to a new principal address within the Commonwealth. The amendment does not require the surviving spouse to have been residing in the Commonwealth at the time the veteran was killed in action. The exemption would end if the spouse remarries.

A "yes" vote will make effective legislation exempting from real property taxation (real estate tax) the principal residence of the surviving spouse of any member of the US armed forces who was killed in action.

A "no" vote will leave the Constitution unchanged.

Pro and Con Arguments for Constitutional Amendment

Yes - For the Measure Proponents say:
1. The exemption assists families of armed forces members who gave their lives for their country.
2. As a constitutional amendment this exemption is permanent.

No - Against the Measure Opponents say:
1. As an open-ended, unfunded mandate on localities, the governmental unit that regulates, imposes and collects the real property tax, it will reduce localities' revenue with no compensating revenues to locally fund services.
2. A constitutional amendment does not allow any flexibilities if the Commonwealth's financial circumstances change in the future.

Voter Guide: 9th Congressional District, House of Representatives

These answers are taken directly from the candidates' responses, cut and pasted; the responses are never edited.

Congressman Griffith did not reply to our request.

Biography

William R. Carr, Jr.: I grew up on a 300 acre farm in eastern NC. I am 69 years old, married to Vanessa Scales, the father of four and grandfather of six. I am a Constitutionalist and a devout Christian who will vote accordingly. I am a 1968 graduate of NC State University. I am a retired businessman and have never held public office.

Responses to League Questions:

What solution do you propose for the undocumented immigrants who already reside in the US?

William R. Carr, Jr.: We first need to secure our borders to stop the influx of illegal immigrants. We then should enforce our existing laws. If we are a nation of laws, we should follow those laws already established. There should be no amnesty. Illegal immigrants should not receive entitlements. Those workers who are necessary and vital to our economy should be required to have valid work permits for a specified period of time and then return home.

In light of recent Supreme Court decisions would you propose updates or changes to the current system of campaign financing?

William R. Carr, Jr.: The system has flaws, but I believe that our First Amendment Rights are at stake. I would not change the current system.

What workable, commonsense proposals do you advocate to improve the election process, increase voting access for citizens and protect voting rights against discrimination?

William R, Carr, Jr.: I believe the Commonwealth of Virginia should allow citizens to register as Democrats, Republicans, etc. or Independents and then hold primary elections accordingly with no crossover vote. The current system, allowing conventions, restricts most citizens from taking part in the primary elections process. This is wrong.
What do you consider the most critical economic challenges and issues facing the US and what Congressional action would you propose to address them?
William R. Carr, Jr.: The most critical challenge is the federal debt. If this continues we will eventually default. I support a balanced budget amendment. Another critical challenge for business and industry is the enormous tax rates and government regulations they face. Tax rates should be cut in half and regulations relaxed so that business and industry can compete in a world economy.

Voter Guide: Christiansburg Town Council

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The Candidates

Samuel M. "Sam" Bishop II I am a life long resident of Christiansburg. I was appointed to Christiansburg Town Council January 2014. I am the oldest of four children. My parents are the late Sam Bishop and Bernice Bishop. I served 28 years with the Blacksburg Police Department. I retired with the rank of Captain. I retired from the military after serving 6 years active duty and 15 years in the Army Reserves. Retired with the rank of Sergeant First Class (E-7).

I am a life member of the Christiansburg Rescue Squad. I attend Asbury United Methodist Church. I received my BS degree in Management Human Resources from Bluefield College. I will use my military and law enforcement experiences to make sound and fair decisions on behalf of the community of Christiansburg.

Harry F. Collins I graduated from Va. Tech in 1974 with a B.S. in Business Administration / Marketing. I worked for the USPS for 20 years holding such positions as Postmaster and Plant Manager. In 2000, I accepted a job as Facility Manager for JDSU. I still hold this position. I have been a member of the Christiansburg Planning Commission since 2012 and in this capacity. I helped write the Comprehensive Plan. In this candidacy, I have signed a State Board of Elections form stating that I will NOT take political contributions or spend over $1,000 of my own money on the campaign.

What is your vision for Christiansburg by 2020?

Assuming that Montgomery County continues to grow as it has done recently, please consider the direction you would want to guide the Town in planning and public investment so that the lives of its citizens are enhanced.

Sam Bishop I see Christiansburg becoming a town where small and large businesses would like to come and set up operations. Since the town has the interstate close by it will make it easy for freight to be shipped in and out. Once we have businesses established, citizens will look at staying in Christiansburg, and others would look at moving here. In the long run this will be an area where young people will want to stay and call home. I see Christiansburg continue growing to offer activities for families to enjoy. Clean, safe walking trails/paths, sporting activities. With more businesses and families moving to town, this would mean more taxes and revenue. This will help the town in maintaining a workable budget, without over taxing the community.

Harry Collins My vision for Christiansburg is simple: I care about Christiansburg and the people who live here! I want to help make Christiansburg a leader so other towns and cities in the state will say + "Let's do it like Christiansburg!" That's why my campaign slogan is "Because I Care". Having helped write the Comprehensive Plan for Christiansburg has given me great insight into the planning of future years. This Plan creates a vision for the next 20 to 30 years. One of my main concerns is to help the Downtown area grow and become a place everyone wants to go. I would look at Tax incentives to attract businesses to the Downtown area, establish a Farmer's Market by closing part of Hickok Street and hold events on Main Street at least twice a month. These events could be named "Fridays on Main" where the streets are blocked off and you can find music, art and food to enjoy.

I am a fiscal conservative and do NOT want taxes raised. I stress the "Save a Buck" concept in all of my thinking. I would also like to see people over 65 years of age receive some kind of a break with Personal Property taxes. In order to raise additional revenue, I recommend we sell the naming rights of the Aquatic Center and the Recreation Center. This is money we would receive without burdening the citizens of Christiansburg. Another revenue generator would be tackling the problem of The Market Square Shopping area. These buildings presently sit vacant and as a result, we are losing tax revenue. If there are no Town Codes or State Statutes to fix this problem, then we need to write new ones to address it. This is another example of "Let's do it like Christiansburg!" Let's lead the way!!