Brewer prioritizes business, foster care reform in campaign

Published 12:51 am Saturday, October 12, 2019

Editor’s Note: The Suffolk News-Herald will provide profiles of candidates up for election on Nov. 5 throughout the month of October.

House District 64

The 64th District includes parts of Sussex, Surry, Isle of Wight and Prince George counties, as well as Suffolk. Just under 9 percent of the district encompasses a part of Suffolk, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, with 82 percent of the district split between Isle of Wight and Prince George. Republican Emily Brewer is the incumbent, and she will face Democrat Michele Joyce in the Nov. 5 election.

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Emily Brewer isn’t averse to technology, but she’s also not averse to putting it aside when she feels there’s a better way.

That’s why she’s bought just one thing online in the past two years. And it’s why, at Uncork’d, the business she owns in downtown Suffolk, she does things a little differently, too.

“In my business, I have two community tables,” Brewer said. “The goal is for strangers to meet as strangers and leave as friends.”

It’s why the first-term delegate, who was named the Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s freshman legislator of the year in 2018 and received an A+ rating from the organization, supports reducing hurdles for people owning small businesses.

Brewer, 35, is running for re-election to the 64th District of the House of Delegates after defeating Democrat Rebecca Colaw in 2017, receiving 62 percent of the vote.

“I want to make sure that we’re creating a strong environment to support strong job creation in Virginia,” Brewer said.

She wants to keep business flowing to the Port of Virginia and support the region’s military bases however possible. And in downtown Suffolk, she said, “for the first time in a very long time, it is starting to fire on all cylinders.”

“I would like the next generation, (and) for my friends to raise their kids here and for their kids to find successful employment,” Brewer said.

Being adopted, Brewer has also focused her energies on foster care and adoption reform.

During her term, she was the chief patron of HB 1730, which requires local social services departments to request placing a security freeze on the credit report or record of any child who has been in foster care for at least six months to prevent cases of identity theft and misuse of personal identifying information.

In 2019, Brewer, along with Sen. Monty Mason, D-Williamsburg, co-chaired the first-ever Foster Care Caucus.

In another realm, she also introduced a bill that would have added maintenance of primary evacuation routes to factors that must be considered by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in how it prioritizes transportation project funding, but the bill died in committee. Brewer said she would continue to work to get emergency evacuation funding for Suffolk.

On other issues, she is a founding member of the Virginia Future Caucus, which is looking at issues like freezing tuition rates and lowering the cost of college prepaid plans, and she was appointed in 2018 to serve on the Broadband Advisory Council. She cites her work earlier this year in helping to include about $18 million in new funding to increase rural broadband access.

In the House, she serves on the Finance, Militia, Police and Public Safety and the Science and Technology committees. In the community, she serves on the boards of the Paul D. Camp Community College Foundation and the Suffolk Business Women.

Brewer said that when she works with people, she doesn’t ask about their political affiliation. She said being a small business owner has taught her to work with anyone.

“I think one of the largest takeaways is that you need to approach working with your colleagues like an everyday business,” Brewer said.

She said she is enjoying the campaign, and was in high spirits as she spent time at the Suffolk Peanut Festival Friday.

“It’s actually a lot of fun,” Brewer said. “I’ve met so many unique, amazing people while knocking doors. It’s been a great experience.”