Del. Chris Hurst rode the blue wave in 2017, defeating a three-term Republican incumbent for the 12th District House of Delegates seat. Yet, when a candidate like Hurst moves into a district for the sole purpose of running for office there, he must prove that he actually understands the district and is capable of leading by example. Hurst has fallen short.
To be sure, Hurst claims to support some issues that are good for the New River Valley, such as broadband and education, but an independent district like the 12th requires an equally independent representative — not a partisan rubber stamp. As the House Democratic Caucus’s campaign chair, Hurst has traversed the commonwealth, raising cash for his liberal Housemates in Northern Virginia — and backing their agenda. You would think that while fundraising for his affluent friends, he could have convinced them to get on board with equitable school funding (but he did not).
On another note, I reluctantly raise the issue of Hurst’s well-documented traffic stop from January 2020.
Hurst has been attacked for being “above the law” after he was let go from the stop without a criminal charge. I do not think that is a fair characterization of the incident.
However, for a delegate who represents tens of thousands of college students, it was totally irresponsible. Surely, we can expect our delegate to be a better example than that.
Jason Ballard, Hurst’s opponent, was born in Giles County and has seemingly devoted his entire life to public service. He is a decorated Army veteran, a local town councilman, coach, lawyer and community leader. I also find it reassuring that he has close family members working in our local K-12 public schools, where he also sends his kids. Perhaps Ballard will be the type of champion that our Southwest Virginia schools need.
I fear that Hurst is more concerned about being a political celebrity than a public servant. Voters across the district should question whether it is a good idea to give Hurst another term. My answer is in the negative.
Aidan Williams, Pearisburg