Gearing up for Local Elections
Complied by Paige Stewart
Question: What specif- ic event or experience moti- vated you to run for of ces?
Answer: I have been thinking about it for about ve years, so what it really comes down to is what activated me to actu- ally do it. And so there are two main things to that. I would say the first is that I decided that if our government was going to represent teachers and scientists and farmers and construction work- ers, then teachers and scientists and farmers and construction workers were going to have to run. AndthatiswhatIam.I am an educator; I am a researcher. That falls into one of the main reasons. The other part is that you do not see many teachers or farmers – you know, non-traditional politi- cians – running. The vast majority are lawyers. Not all, but the vast majority. This government route really showed me that you could be a successful politician without being a traditional politician. Speci cally, you can be a scientist and be a success- ful politician.
Q: How would you evaluate the incumbent’s performance and what would you do differently or the same?
A: I think what we really have to think about here is how is Richmond benefitting Appalachia. And, at the moment, I think that Appalachia is getting left behind. We really need to work to- gether, both within our Appalachian communi- ties and with our state legislator to ensure that we are no longer leaving Appalachia behind.
Q: How might the re- sults of this election impact students who are currently attending or are about to graduate from college?
A: The biggest im- pact that I would like to talk about is how it can impact our future training of the workforce, and that is by making sure that there are mul- tiple pipelines for train- ing individuals for the workforce. One way our campaign intends to do that is by making tech- nical school and trade school, apprenticeships and community colleges both more affordable and more accessible to the community at large and graduating high school seniors as well.
Q: What is your stance on the Mountain Valley Pipeline?
A: I do not think that the Mountain Valley Pipeline is good for our region. It does not bring jobs to our region, it does not reduce the cost of natural gas in our region, and it is impeding on our citizens’ land through land acquisition and em- inent domain. It has the potential of affecting the beautiful Appalachian landscape that we have through building a pipe- line right through it.
Q: What message are you trying to convey to con- stituents through your cam- paign?
A: If our legislators listen to and work with our community, then we can revitalize Appalachia. What we have seen is that when our Appala- chian communities work together, they can be in- novative and they can do great things. As legislators we need to harness those skill sets, that energy, and that innovation and help Appalachian communi- ties be more successful.