Virginia Farm Bureau Federation AgPAC Questionnaire

Q: Please tell us briefly why you are seeking this position.
A: I was exasperated by the continual vitriol of many politicians, and the unfortunate corrupt climate of some local politicians and those that support them. As the Delegate for the 89th District, I will bring my experience as a veteran, father and 30-year employee in Hampton Roads to Richmond to provide credible, competent and honest representation, scandal-free transparency and well-managed government Norfolk and Virginia deserves.

Q: What are your three main priorities as a candidate?
A: I will proactively surface and drive ideas that oppose government overreach into personal freedoms, promote economic opportunities for small businesses and families and passionately work to improve quality of life. Specifically for my district that means ending the drug war and abolishing the death penalty, reforming Virginia’s professional licensure system, and creating a unified framework for scoring flood mitigation projects to deal with sea level rise.

Q: Do you think small and large farms need to be regulated differently and/or held to different standards?
 A: Large and small farms should not be the differentiating factor for regulation, the focus should be on substances used by the farms with potential environmental and public health impacts combined with their diversity of offerings. A farm growing corn with large amounts of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides should be treated differently than a farm growing a variety of crops with minimal or no off farm inputs. Additionally farms mixing crop and livestock production should be treated differently than those engaging in either activity by itself. 

Q: Do your schools have an agriculture education program? If not, do you know why these programs may not exist? If so, how do you think the programs could be enhanced or improved?
A: There are several small school gardens at Norfolk elementary schools, but no formalized program of agricultural education. Given limited space in a fully developed urban setting, rooftop gardening could be explored, and provide early adoption for future homeowners/business developers after graduation.
Q: In tight budget times and with 3/4 of Virginia's budget being nondiscretionary, what programs would you be in favor of cutting? What programs would you oppose cutting?
A: I believe the core functions of government are public safety, transportation and education. I will oppose cuts to these core functions and will propose eliminating programs that fall outside those functions until the priorities are fully funded.

Q: What is the role of Virginia Cooperative Extension in the localities you do/will represent? How could those programs better support economic growth in agriculture and forestry?
A: To provide a local connection to the two land-grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, and to provide education “through programs in Agriculture and Natural Resources, 4-H Youth Development, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Community Viability”.  These could better support growth by exploring opportunities to expose these concepts further in an urban setting, via Rooftop Gardening and Homeowner Front Lawn Gardening Cooperatives.
Q: How do you see Virginia moving forward to address unsafe bridges or maintaining the current highway infrastructure with the limited funding available?
A: Bridges will become increasingly more important as recurrent flooding and sea-level rise continue to impact our coastal communities and those projects will compete with inland ones. With potentially billions of dollars in needed projects, we must have a credible and accurate way to score them to ensure we aren’t wasting limited dollars. Smart Scale currently does not apply to bridge repair and replacement, so I will propose legislation ordering Virginia’s Modeling and Simulation Center to coordinate with state agencies and localities to create a unified framework for rating flooding and bridge repair proposals in conjunction with Smart Scale for evaluating other road improvements.

Q: Wildlife populations continue to increase. Damage to property by wildlife in farm, rural, and urban communities continues to rise. What is the role of the General Assembly in wildlife management?
A: The General Assembly will need to provide a fair balance between landowner needs and conservation. This will require a pragmatic voice to prevent government overreach into personal freedoms, especially the rights of the landowners to protect their justly acquired property, and ensuring the activities allowed by those rights don’t adversely impact the safety or rights of others. In that regard, the State can do a much better job educating landowners about their rights as they relate to inviting hunters onto their lands, especially outside of hunting season when crop damage is most prevalent. 
Q: What are your views on zoning? Do you believe local governments have overstepped their regulatory or zoning authority?
A: Yes, they have overstepped. Landowners, especially agricultural, should be free to use their land as they see fit, provided reasonable care is being taken concerning the environment. This is quite salient now as landowners wishing to erect environment-friendly solar infrastructure on their property are being met with burden from zoning, all too often created to prevent competition with large energy firms operating as de facto state-sponsored monopolies. This is one area where the Dillon rule is a benefit, whereby the state can prevent such abuse by localities.