Published 7:32 pm Friday, October 22, 2021
Editor’s Note: The Suffolk News-Herald sent the same slate of questions to House of Delegates District 76 candidates Mike Dillender, Clinton Jenkins and Craig Warren. You can see the questions and their answers here. The candidates were advised that responses would not be edited, except to truncate answers at the end of the 100-word limit.
Why are you running for the House of Delegates, or why are you running for re-election to the House of Delegates?
I decided to run as an independent because I realized the two-party system leaves our district without representation in Richmond. The two national parties choose which candidates will be on the ballot, run their campaigns, and then dictate how they vote if they get to Richmond. The issues and needs of our district have to take a back seat to party loyalty. I am offering my services to the people of the 76th district as a true representative, to genuinely put the wellbeing and needs of our community first in every vote.
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What would be your top three priorities if elected, and why?
My top priorities are education, transportation, and the effects of the Covid pandemic on retail. Education: We need to study why we are failing before we spend more on the same tactics that aren’t producing results. Transportation: With a full agenda of current local needs, we also need to allocate funds to study the impact of the new interstate(I-87) coming from Raleigh in less than ten years. It will likely change the patterns for rt 58 and rt 460. Covid: We must find ways to relieve the burden of fees and taxes while these businesses struggle with increased debt.
What would you highlight as your top legislative achievements, or if you haven’t held office, what professional accomplishments and experience would you point to?
Aside from a few short citizen advocate speeches before the General Assembly, I have no legislative experience. My greatest professional accomplishment is the company my wife and I started in 2010. After climbing to the top of my industry, we sold our house, one of our vehicles, most of our furniture, and cashed in our retirement accounts. While building our company, the most useful experience I have gained is making logical, analytical decisions without allowing emotions to interfere. The second lesson has been learning to resist the status quo unless I can independently prove it to be correct.
What are your views on how Virginia has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, and how would you handle the continued vaccine rollout?
I would have preferred a less centralized approach in March 2020. Delegating the authority for restrictions and mandates down to local level task forces would have delayed/prevented the economic hardship in much of the state. There was no reason for a small-town restaurant that serves 10 locals a day to follow the same guidelines as a restaurant that serves 300 tourists per day in Virginia Beach. I believe government always works best when closest to the people it is governing. As for the vaccine, I believe everyone should be allowed to decide for themselves if they want to be.
What are the most critical issues facing the state over the next two years, and how would you address them?
The three most critical issues facing the state are education, budget/spending, and the economy. Education is the most obvious because of our declining performance. The budget/spending issue is less obvious. With a $2.5B tax surplus this year, the state budget appears secure; but, because state revenue is so dependent on consumer spending and wages, we need to be very careful forecasting the upcoming economy. Addressing the future economy requires more than the typical “creating jobs” statements of most politicians. It requires making sure the sectors of our economy depend/support each other to ensure our state economy.