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Our community faces real and critical challenges. The cost of living is rising, I-81 remains one of the deadliest highways in Virginia, many in our community are losing the battle of opioid addiction, and our environment is threatened by the Mountain Valley Pipeline. We need our government to recognize the urgency of these issues and take bold actions toward meaningful solutions.
All of us in the Roanoke and New River Valleys are aware of the weekly accidents that occur on the stretch of Interstate 81 that cuts through our region. If elected, I will push to both expand I-81 from Dixie Caverns to Botetourt, as well as study rail options. Expanding 81 is a major undertaking and will take years to actualize – therefore we must demand action now.
We have seen steady, uninterrupted economic growth over the past 9 years in this country, yet many Americans, including thousands in the 8th district, are not sharing in this bounty. In fact, in the past 40 years, the cost of living in real dollars has increased by an estimated 30% – including healthcare costs that have risen six-fold, and higher education costs that have grown by a whopping 1000%. And while it costs more to live and thrive in America, real wages have remained stagnant for over four decades.
Working class Virginians, including many in our district, are being left behind. We can, and we must, do better as a party and as a government to ensure people have the opportunity to advance their careers, to own homes, to save for their children’s education, and to provide security for themselves and their families.
It starts with infrastructure – specifically broadband.
Communities that lack access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet cannot attract new businesses and are significantly limited in the quality of their schools and healthcare. Through government grants and private-public partnerships, we can expand broadband coverage laying the foundation to economic recovery and opportunity. We must close Virginia’s digital divide and we must do it now.
Many of our neighboring states including Maryland, West Virginia, and Tennessee provide free community college and vocational education to their citizens. We must work towards that goal in Virginia, too. An educated workforce with access to learning new, in-demand skills is essential to economic development in the 8th district. Virginia has a long tradition of excellent post-secondary education. We must make sure all Virginians have access to it.
If elected I will fight to make sure all Virginians have access to affordable health insurance – and that they cannot be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Affordable healthcare is an economic development issue, a quality of life issue – and it’s a moral issue. Quite simply, it’s the right thing to do.
I will stand with women in their right to make decisions about their own health choices, in their fight to receive equal pay for equal work, and in their struggle to live and work free of harassment. I pledge to you that where I can lead on this front, I will, but know that I am committed to following women’s lead in this struggle and supporting their efforts where they think I can be helpful.
Like many in the 8th district, I, too, am affected by the Mountain Valley Pipeline as it runs within a half-mile of my home. This project was wrong from the start. It lowers property values, it puts lives at risk, it endangers streams and water supplies, and destroys the beautiful view sheds that make our district and our homes so special. And it does absolutely nothing for our region. If elected, I will do everything I can stand up for property owners. I will do everything I can to limit the use of eminent domain for corporate profits and I will do everything I can to protect our region’s natural resources which are the lifeblood of our communities.
Many in our district suffer the devastating effects of opioid addiction – an illness that claims more lives in America than the AIDS crisis at its peak. This epidemic is one of the greatest crises of our time as we race to save lives. We must make sure government agencies work together to pool resources, that life-saving medications are available and affordable, and that opioid addiction is treated as the illness it is – rather than a moral failing. We must remove all obstacles keeping addicts and their families from seeking treatment.
By Amy Friedenberger email@example.com Del. Chris Head warned his fellow Republicans