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About 50 people drove through a dark, rainy Tuesday morning (Jan. 3) to hear the three Virginia Senate candidates address the issues facing the 22nd District.
Independent Joe Hines, Republican Mark Peake and Democrat Ryant Washington took turns explaining their platforms in a breakfast forum put on by the Fluvanna Chamber of Commerce at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church.

The special election will be held Tuesday (Jan. 10) to fill the spot vacated when former state Senator Tom Garrett (R-Buckingham) was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The outcome of this election will determine which party has control of the Virginia Senate.

Chamber member Rudy Garcia introduced the candidates and asked them to explain why they think they are the best representative for the district.

“My platform is economic development: creating more jobs, better jobs, and greater economic opportunity across the district,” said Hines, who is from Prince Edward County. He said he knows how to create jobs because he has been doing so for years in his work as a partner and director of economic development with Timmons Group, a regional consulting engineering firm.

“I am not an establishment guy. I’m not a politician,” said Hines. “As an Independent I have a much stronger voice.” That voice will allow him to reason between the two parties, he said, “to work things out in a realistic fashion and not get into control games.”

Hines also pointed to the lack of cell phone coverage in the 22nd District. He lost cell coverage three times on a 60-mile stretch of Rt. 15, which is “a major thoroughfare for the district,” he said. That lack of infrastructure “potentially alienates millennials, which are our future workforce,” he said.

After Hines finished speaking, Peake came to the podium.

“I firmly believe in the Republican creed of individual responsibility and lower taxes,” said Peake, a lawyer from Lynchburg. “I don’t shy away from the social issues as a Republican candidate, and I also focus on the business issues… Those are some of the things I will fight for if you send me to Richmond as your representative.”

Peake highlighted his desire for a bypass around Charlottesville to smooth the way for people and goods traveling on Rt. 29 who are currently forced to fight through city traffic. He was a member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, and said that Gov. Terry McAuliffe “bowed down to wealthy families in Charlottesville” when deciding against the bypass.
“I stood up and said that’s not right,” said Peake, “so he kicked me off the board.”

Peake said he would work for limited government and limited, smart spending. “You can’t just promise everybody everything,” he said.

After Peake concluded his remarks, Washington began to speak.

“I am passionate about public safety,” said Washington, who was Fluvanna’s sheriff for 14 years before becoming a special policy advisor to the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. “People must feel safe in order for a community to thrive.”

There needs to be a strategic plan put in place to increase the pay of law enforcement officers, Washington said. He also spoke against unfunded mandates. “This has got to stop,” he said. “We can no longer continue to say, ‘Well, we’ll let the locals make up the difference.’ The locals didn’t make up the rules; the locals shouldn’t be punished for the rules.”
Washington also highlighted the lack of internet access in homes throughout the district, which he said especially impacts students. “How do those kids help us build the future when they don’t have the tools to get the knowledge they need?” he asked. “As your senator I can assure you I’ll be fighting for those types of things…[that] can make an immediate impact in the lives of folks every day.”

The 22nd District includes Amherst, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland and Prince Edward Counties, parts of Louisa County, and the City of Lynchburg.