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Gillespie touts ideas for region’s growth, schools

South Boston News
Gillespie with voters in Clarksville. / October 25, 2017
With less than two weeks to go before Virginians head to the polls on Nov. 7 to elect a new governor, Republican candidate Ed Gillespie stopped by Clarksville for a quick meeting with the local press before heading out to stump for votes.

For the most part, recent polling has Gillespie and his Democrat opponent Ralph Northam locked in a tight race. A Monmouth University poll conducted Oct. 12-16 found Gillespie up by one point over Northam, 48 to 47 percent. Other polls have found Northam with a small but consistent lead, while one survey, The Washington Post/Schar School poll around the beginning of October, put Northam up by 13 points.

While little time left in the race, Gillespie made a swing last week through Southside Virginia hoping to build rural support.

To reinforce his message that he will be a governor for all of Virginia — not just urban areas or northern Virginia – Gillespie says he will as governor appoint a cabinet that reflects the demographics of the population. He also said he would hold his first cabinet meeting in Wise County, and subsequent cabinet meetings throughout the Commonwealth.

“Why can’t the cabinet meet in Clarksville. It’s good for them to get outside the bubble [or Richmond]. I don’t think that always meeting in Richmond is good for the cabinet members themselves,” said Gillespie.

Polls show that a third of all voters polled say education is the most important issue the next governor should address. For Southsiders, that includes concerns about the loss of state and federal dollars among rural school divisions.

Gillespie said he had no specific plan to resolve funding inequities that disadvantage rural counties like Mecklenburg. “This is a problem, I recognize the problem. It’s not a problem that I can come up with the detailed policies we need inside the confines of a campaign,” said Gillespie. “We need to have access to government data and the governing apparatus and to be a convener that can bring people together because obviously, it’s not just going to affect rural Virginia, it’s going to affect urban areas, suburban and exurban areas. But my own view is that our funding formulas need a fresh look.”

That fresh look includes his support for a General Assembly policy advanced earlier this year during budget negotiations known as the 10:10:10 funding formula. It provides funding for school divisions experiencing significant population declines. The formula would be used to direct additional state aid to school divisions with less than 10,000 students, where enrollment declined 10 percent or more during the previous 10 years.

His education plan, for the most part, sidesteps funding issues. Gillespie says he will champion teachers, career and technical education, innovations in the classroom and STEM instruction. He also expresses support for homeschooling, charter schools, and programs for students with special needs as well as those with high abilities.

Job creation is an essential part of his platform, Gillespie says. “I think this election is critically important for the future of the Commonwealth we love, and I’ve got the policies to foster economic growth and job creation and opportunity here that we desperately need.”

He promises a jobs program that he says will lift the Commonwealth from its economic slump. He cites statistics reported by US News and World Report that placed Virginia’s growth rate in 2016 at 0.6 percent and ranked the Commonwealth 39th out of 50 states in economic growth and 44th in wage growth. “That’s not an aberration. That’s part of a pattern we’ve seen for six straight years. Our growth rate’s been below the national GDP rate and for five of those six years it’s been below 1 percent. That’s economic stagnation.”

Gillespie said one of the keys to his jobs and economic growth plan is the modernization of the Commonwealth’s tax code. Currently, he explains, Virginia ranks 33rd in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index. “Virginia can and should do better,” he said, adding that as governor, he will:

» Provide the first individual income tax rate cut since rates were established in 1972;

» Cut individual income tax rates by 10 percent across-the-board. This would be phased in over three years, and subject to triggers.

This change, Gillespie contends, will spark natural, organic economic growth that diversifies Virginia’s economy and creates more than 53,000 new full-time private-sector jobs in five years.

His tax cut plan is estimated to cost $1.4 billion annually. Gillespie has not said how he will handle the budget impact, although he does note that triggers in place under his plan will delay implementation of the tax cut if the budgetary impacts are too great.

He also supports the production of industrial hemp and the expansion of high speed internet as economic drivers.

On the topic of hemp, Gillespie says, “I think this would be good for Southside. We can grow here. It is a very lucrative cash crop, and the demand for it is rising.”

He says greater access to broadband will “help spur small business expansion and formation in Southern Virginia as well as all across the Commonwealth and other parts of rural Virginia.” Currently, Gillespie says, 900,000 Virginians are without access to high-speed internet and broadband capability. He promises to cut the digital divide in half in four year’s time.

At the same time, he says no locale should become too targeted when it comes to economic growth opportunities. More data centers and solar farms may help local economies, but there are other options, he said.

“I’m all for bringing in data centers but I also want to see more small business expansion and formation and I think long term that has to be our mindset.” Gillespie says this comprehensive approach will not only diversify the local economy, but will unleash more innovation and entrepreneurship in the economy.

“Why can’t the next Amazon be a Virginia company?” he asked rhetorically.

“We’ve needed it [economic reforms that promote and encourage job growth] in southern Virginia for some time and in the Southside, but the fact is we are seeing all across the Commonwealth that we are stuck in our economic growth rate. Nothing is going to change unless we change it, and I’ve got policies to change it,” Gillespie explained.

Working with Gillespie on his jobs plans are state Sen. Frank Ruff of Clarksville and Del. Danny Marshall of Danville. Gillespie said he chose them as co-chairs of his economic development and job creation policy working group because “I wanted to have folks from the General Assembly from this part of the Commonwealth who’ve been dealing with the need to develop natural organic economic growth for some time now.”

When it comes to energy policies, Gillespie again cautioned against focusing on only one form of renewable energy to the exclusion of others.

Gillespie is aware that Mecklenburg County is inundated with companies looking to install solar farms here. He said he sees these farms as important but not the only aspect of a comprehensive energy policy. “My energy plan is an all of the above plan. I support solar and wind — both have become more efficient in terms of capacity—– but there are a number of other things we can do. I am also for biomass and biofuels, and hydro pump storage in southwest Virginia.”

The one energy program he steadfastly refuses to support is uranium mining.

For the next few weeks, Gillespie says he plans to “let Virginians see not just what is in my head, but what is in my heart,” as he campaigns across the state. He also encourages anyone interested in learning more about him and his platform to go to his campaign website,

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Here's an idea. Learn the Bob Corker and Jeff Flake lesson. Uncontrolled immigration, TPP and NAFTA trade deals, and a $500 billion annual trade deficit with China is not good for the American worker. Jeff Flake took $1,027,485 from the lying traitorous scum called the Club for Growth
who promote the absolute bs notion that "free trade" exists and the American worker needs no protections at all. Since John McCain ran for president and like a fool went around proclaiming free trade was a great thing we need more of while assuming the blue collar textile workers around the country were too stupid to know it was this lie of free trade that caused their jobs to leave in the first place to you sir lobbying for the Canadian timber industry, understand this. You are done.


You all have sold out so much of this country to foreign interests that it’s too obvious now for you to continue. Your claim that if we don't support your lopsided trade deals, which have led to China building its military machine and threatening US interests in the south China sea off the backs of the American people and all the Chinese communist made crap Walmart has pedaled to the American people, we’re isolationists is not believable anymore. You can take all the money you want from this trash like the Club for Growth but enough people are waking up it won’t matter. And guess what, genius? You and John McCain should understand Canadians can’t vote in America.


Sounds like you are talking about Northam who lost 1.4 million to China. If you vote for northam it will be four more years of we got to get along, we got to give the deadbeats a free ride and destroying the history or our Commonwealth. Vote for ED!

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