Flo on the Issues
Our businesses are the ground floor of our upstanding community, and we must work together to strengthen them. Together, we can rebuild our economy, and in turn, provide our people with the necessities they deserve such as broadband, an organized tax structure, and high quality school systems.
It is our turn to tell Richmond that we are here, we are serious, and we will not be ignored.
USING THE INTERNET IS NO LONGER A LUXURY. IT IS A NECESSITY.
Our current options for broadband Internet are limited and rarely affordable. For our more urban areas, the average consumer has only one option for ground-based connections and limited access to satellite services as an alternative. In our further reaching rural communities, the options are even more limited or service is unavailable altogether.
When you ask most people how they access the Internet, Facebook, Google, or email, they respond, “With my cellphone.” However, this is tremendously more expensive because of limited data usage, problems achieving a quality signal, and the need to have an up-to- date smartphone. None of these options are easily affordable for our rural community.
What Virginians need is last-mile broadband connectivity across the Commonwealth as an option for every household. Broadband is inexpensive and can provide many additional services that can benefit our communities, including Internet, television, and phone services. Implementation of last-mile broadband can also provide emergency services personnel with more stable and reliable communications.
IF WE ARE EXPECTED TO GENERATE REVENUE, WE MUST HAVE A SOLID FOUNDATION, AND IT IS TIME WE ARE GIVEN THAT CHANCE.
Our tax structure is in dire need of attention if we want to save our small businesses. We are continuously presented with new ways to provide tax breaks, but how can we provide tax breaks to members of our rural community if they do not earn enough to pay out taxes in the first place?
Readdressing our tax structure is an important way to learn where our money comes from and where it is going. Looking at the data on how it leaves a community and how it supplements a community in return is important to our district and our commonwealth. Red tape and loop holes are an area of concern and I intend to learn the full structure and analyze the best ways to help our communities without driving up our taxes. We must do our best to encourage a stronger small business base while also opening avenues for bigger business supplementation. Our small businesses are what drives our local economy and is the greatest asset to our local revenue and development. Small businesses create local jobs, local revenue, and support our local public employees especially including our first responders, armed forces, and emergency response crews.
Attracting larger business to exist in tandem to our small businesses without drowning them out is also important. Go Virginia is a valuable resource guide to promoting growth with larger business incentive ideas that can supplement our region as a whole and bring our communities together to help sustain our current revenue which provides our people with more money that they can additionally use to support our small businesses and keep our revenue up in our community.
A great plan we can expect is the decision to invite commuter rail services to the New River Valley. We are looking at supplementing our public transportation ability with commuter rail options right here in our own district down behind the Aquatic Center in the Cambria street station. This will attract more students to our Universities, which are one of our largest employers, provide more opportunities for our people to find jobs that suit their needs without large quantities of motor vehicle costs, and provide same-train travel up and down the East Coast of the United States bringing more tourism and providing a pleasurable, affordable way for our region to travel.
Natural Resources & Environment
Our natural resources are fundamental to our region.
We have grown up in these mountains with our feet in the fields and our hair in the wind. These are our hunting grounds, our fishing waters, our farms, and our forests. Protecting these natural resources is essential to our lives and the future of our homes. We can balance ecology with economy. We can steer away from our fossil fuel consumption and begin new ways of preserving our lands while providing cleaner, sustainable, cheaper options such as solar and wind energy.
As our workforce in the fossil fuel industry diminishes, we can shift to a new job market in the installation, operation, and maintenance of renewable energies and provide better employment opportunities for our children who have aspirations in technology
fields. This will provide them with the opportunity to stay in the communities they love while working in the fields they are passionate about.
Currently, we are looking at hosting the Mountain Valley Pipeline through the New River Valley and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline across more of our Commonwealth. These pipelines do not offer enough advantage to the costs we are assuredly set to endure. We cannot fathom the full potential the proposed pipeline poses as an ecological risk but we can look at the facts when it comes to the likelihood it will cause such damage. Fiscally, it is irresponsible for VA to consider this. The ecological damage from a single break in the hula hoop sized natural gas pipeline will be substantial and devastating to our mountains and the water and lands that feed us and our neighbors. The state will be unable to fund the immense cleanup required to correct the damage, nor will we be able to correct the damage entirely.
Additionally, the intention to seek out natural gas deposits in our own back yards is bringing up even more potential for eminent domain across more of our lands.
Currently, eminent domain is being implemented for a private company to cut a football field wide swath across our state and through our properties, mountains, farms, and waters. Continuing this trend leads to the precedence that anyone can enact it for privatized gain. A private company shouldn’t be able to cut through our private farms and back yards.
Finally, offshore drilling is a tremendous issue that we should all be concerned about. Dealing with coal ash dumping into our rivers and streams is a hard-enough fight on a small scale but drilling for fossil fuels directly off our coast will be detrimental to our larger fishing practices and the health of our coastline and the water that feeds back into our Eastern waters. Continuing down this path is not only dangerous, it is also costlier to our environment, food, water, animals, and even our pockets.
WE MUST PROTECT OUR CHILDREN, ELDERLY, AND DISABLED.
Healthcare is important to me and hits home. I was raised by a disabled grandmother who was forced to work to not only pay for our food and home, but to cover her health insurance in the case she found herself fully disabled and unable to walk, worse that she has already lived with. She is now 88 and living on social security. There is no option for her to return to the workforce in her condition and she lives on less than $12,000 a year. The idea of her paying for healthcare on her own is simply not an option. With this story and those of many thousands of citizens in the Commonwealth of Virginia, we know we must protect and expand Medicare and Medicaid.
We must, first, protect our children, elderly, and disabled. These are the people who need it the most. They are unable to control their circumstances in life. These members of our communities are unable to work or gain affordable healthcare on their own. Children, especially, have no control over where their healthcare comes from and cannot care for themselves if they are hurt or sick. We must quickly reinstate Chip and expand the ARC Waver to support those who have never had the ability to provide their own healthcare and establish their futures while still being members of our community.
We must not ignore those in our society who already have jobs. Our healthcare companies are now available to cross state borders which offers them the chance to keep their headquarters in the state with the weakest regulations and grant them the ability to raise premiums and lower coverage from a distance and not take our state and those of us within it into consideration. With this, I believe we need to ensure we have the ability to care for those of us that find ourselves priced out or not being covered for standard annual care. We are looking at lowering coverage of not only ourselves, but those we must protect because they protect us. I am speaking of our armed forces, our Vets, our First Response teams, and our emergency services. These men and women fight hard to keep our communities safe and to protect all citizens. The least we can do is give them the assurance they will be taken care of when a bad situation turns worse without forcing them to pay heavily for their health insurance and then not having enough money left over to support a family.
I have an autoimmune disease and am not a stranger to preexisting conditions. These are things that are out of our control as people. When someone, as a child, survived the loss or repair of an organ, they are not looking at a perfectly normal future regarding their health. These are great concerns for our society and our community.
I believe in caring for those who are unable to help themselves by obtaining employment or being a close family member to someone who has it. My grandmother cannot get a job on her own. My children cannot obtain jobs on their own. Those with a mental disability are often not able to work on their own. These are a few of the reasons why this is very important to me and why I will work my hardest to protect us all.
Our schools provide a large part of our workforce, and our teachers deserve a safe, stable, quality job.
Our schools are struggling. In Floyd alone, Indian Valley Elementary school is finding it harder each year to keep its doors open, and yet, these children live too far from the nearest elementary school to plausibly be transferred. Pulaski is in dire need to replace multiple schools in their county due to severe amounts of wear and tear, dangerous exposure risks, and devastating environments for our children and faculty. Floyd County Schools are still operating off of coal heating and Montgomery County Schools are still working on rebuilding a few of their schools which are overcrowded and in disrepair. In our rural mountain community, these are not simple issues of student enrollment. These are issues with the ability of our schools to maintain their buildings and afford their bills. We deserve a better focus on our schools, for our students, and our community. A quality school benefits our children who become our working adults, and our working adults deserve the best start to elevate our community.
I will take a proactive approach to the way our state connects with the local government to provide new avenues to protect and enhance our education systems and the buildings and grounds they call home. Schools are a valuable resource to our way of life. They provide many jobs, a safe learning environment for our youth and their development into adulthood, and they provide a functional addition to our community with the extra events and entertainment provided outside of the classroom.
Protecting our schools is truly important to me. My children attend one of the local elementary schools, I have attended the local schools, and I have toured a few of the current schools with enough evidence in a single tour to strengthen my resolve to do my utmost best to advancing them and propelling them forward for our community and those of us blessed enough to live in it.
OUR COMMUNITIES ARE BEING DIVIDED. IT IS TIME WE BRING THEM BACK TOGETHER.
In Montgomery County alone, residents are represented by three different delegates. Our college campuses are being cut in half, and our towns are being carved up purely for political gain at the expense of the voices of thousands of Virginians. That is why we need to implement an independent redistricting commission that will bring us fair and balanced districts that are represented by intact communities.
Our communities deserve the right to stand up together and address their representative with their needs. Addressing multiple representatives makes this significantly more difficult. I often hear about how having multiple delegates for one community strengthens the voice in Richmond but, instead, this is not the case unless all of those representatives are on the same page. Our communities shouldn’t have the bend the ears of multiple people for a voice. We represent our own community and my community has difficulty being heard. It is harder to meet with multiple representatives collectively and, by living in the community you represent, you are experiencing the same problems they are presenting.
Whether I am at the store, the school, the parking garage, or driving down the roads, I experience the same ups and downs we all face in our community. Keeping our representation within the community they are associated with is important and I feel having an independent commission is key.
Lastly, I do believe in the democratic process and do believe the state and local governments should have a little say in the drawing of the lines. This does not leave the decision up to a particular party. Passing down a portion of the decision process to the local level is a great way to ensure we are keeping a community together for a unified voice.