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Three men who want to succeed Del. Lacey Putney targeted taxes and big government in a public forum.
Courtesy photo; Jim McKelvey
Courtesy photo; Zachary Hatcher
Thursday, April 25, 2013
The campaign to succeed the state legislature’s longest serving member took a sharply anti-Washington tone at the first of two candidate forums for the men seeking the Republican nomination for the 19th House of Delegates District seat.
Asked for their visions for Virginia in 20 years’ time, two of the candidates, Jim McKelvey and Zachary Hatcher, said they wanted to push to repeal the amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring direct election of U.S. Senators.
“We have to turn it around, and that’s by reminding Washington who the bosses are,” candidate Zach Martin said, in response to that question, adding that his vision for Virginia was for more opportunities for young people to find work.
The fourth candidate seeking the GOP nomination, Botetourt County supervisor Terry Austin, did not show up at the Thursday evening event at the Bedford city hall.
He told organizers he had a longstanding commitment elsewhere. The three candidates who did attend criticized him and the rest of the county board of supervisors for not cutting county taxes and spending.
“They call themselves Republicans, but I don’t see that at all,” Hatcher said.
All four candidates are seeking to succeed Del. Lacey Putney, I-Bedford, who is retiring after more than a half century in the legislature.
Hatcher, pastor of Mount Bethel Church of the Brethren in Eagle Rock, said his top priorities were to recapture lost liberties, to improve education by promoting school choice and a free market approach and to reform taxes.
“I don’t understand why we tax income, why we tax savings, why we tax capital investment,” he said. “Are these not things we want to grow?”
Martin, who lives in Bedford County, emphasized both his youth — he is 25 — and his experience building the Liberty University College Republicans.
“Young people are starting to see that the country they love won’t be there if they don’t do something about it,” Martin said. “I want to be one of those young people.”
He said faith and family would guide him. “There is only one God and his name is Jesus Christ,” Martin said. “Government is not God.”
He said if elected he would push back against federal mandates, including President Obama’s health care reform. He said education reform was vital.
Moneta businessman Jim McKelvey, who made an unsuccessful bid to be the Republican candidate for the 5th Congressional District race in 2010, said taxes were his top issue.
“Jobs are leaving this area. They’re going to Washington, D.C. Government is out of control,” McKelvey said. “We’re being taxed to death, and for me the straw that broke the camel’s back was the transportation bill. … It was the biggest tax increase in Virginia history.”
McKelvey said he wanted to cut the number of state government office workers by 10 percent. He said he would push for term limits and to repeal gun control measures. He said he wanted to promote school choice and home-schooling, and give parents who opt out a tax rebate.
The forum was sponsored by Bedford Concerned Citizens, a nonpartisan community group that seeks to encourage voting.
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