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The special election set for Jan. 10 could determine the balance of power in the Virginia Senate.

Competing for the 22nd District seat are Democrat Ryant Washington, Independent Joe Hines and Republican Mark Peake.

If Washington wins, the Senate will be evenly divided among Democrats and Republicans. The tiebreaking vote falls to the lieutenant governor, an office currently held by Democrat Ralph Northam.

A vacancy in the state Senate was created when former Senator Tom Garrett (R-Buckingham) won the race for the 5th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 8.

Garrett was elected to the seat in 2012, continuing a long list of Republicans who have held the seat since 1992. The last Democrat to hold the seat was Dudley J. “Buzz” Emick from 1976 to 1992.

The district covers a wide swath of Central Virginia, including Amherst, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland and Prince Edward Counties, parts of Louisa County, and the City of Lynchburg.

The Fluvanna Review sent questions to all three candidates. Their responses have been lightly edited for spelling and newspaper style, such as capitalization, but otherwise left alone.

Tell us about yourselves.
Hines:  
Joe Hines, 48, was born and raised in Prince Edward County. He is a partner and director of economic development with Timmons Group, a regional consulting engineering firm. He is a graduate with honors from NC State University with an engineering degree, and he earned an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business while working full-time. Hines served on the Virginia Economic Developers Association Board and is the vice-chair of the Fuqua School of Business Alumni Council. During Hines’ tenure as director of economic development at Timmons Group, the practice has helped clients land over $3 billion in investment with over 8,500 jobs announced. Hines has managed several large infrastructure and economic development projects, including the James River Water Project, Rolls-Royce, Amazon, and Vitamin Shoppe among many others.  He currently resides on the family farm in Rice where he grew up.

Peake:
I am 53. I am Republican. I won the Republican nomination at a convention on Dec. 3. I am a partner with the law firm of Caskie & Frost. We are a private practice firm. I have been with them since 1990. I have lived in Lynchburg since 1990. I am married to Lila Peake (my first and only wife of 21 years). We have five children, quadruplets (three boys and one girl) who are 19 years old and in their first year of college, and our baby daughter who is 17 and a senior in high school. I grew up in Roanoke and went to public schools there, graduating from Patrick Henry High School in 1981. I graduated from Virginia Tech in 1985 and Washington & Lee Law School in 1988.

Washington:

I am 48 years old. I am the Democratic nominee in the special election for Virginia’s 22nd senatorial district. I currently serve as the special policy adviser on law enforcement to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). My wife, Camilla, and I are the proud parents of recent Fluvanna County High School graduates Chris and Nick. I live in Palmyra currently but was born and raised in Buckingham. I have spent my entire career in law enforcement, as a deputy sheriff and later state trooper. I was elected sheriff of Fluvanna County in 1999 and I proudly served my community in that capacity for over 14 years before joining the ABC. I studied criminal justice at Piedmont Virginia Community College and I have a diploma in Business Administration from the National Business College in Charlottesville.

What are your top three priorities for the 22nd District?
Peake: 
1.  Jobs. The citizens of the 22nd District want to be able to provide for their families.  They also want their children and grandchildren to be able to remain or return to their localities to earn a good living. This requires business friendly practices and the protection of free markets from our state government. I am distressed that Virginia has fallen from being one of the top two states in Forbes Annual Business Rankings to 13th.  I want to restore our top business ranking. 

2.  Defending the Constitution and our constitutional rights. That is something I have practiced as an attorney and an oath that I will take as a legislator, and I will continue to take it very seriously. I will fight to protect our religious freedoms as well as our Second Amendment rights, our civil liberties and our property rights. 

3.  Fiscal and budgetary restraint. State government must live within its means. We must focus on core functions like public safety, while fighting government expansion in other areas.

Washington:
I fundamentally believe that education is the biggest driver of economic growth. My three priorities, as a result, are (1) education; (2) economic development and jobs; and (3) public safety.

No matter what we say or do, no company is going to come to our region if we don’t have a strong workforce, and that’s everything from academia all the way down to pre-K. Education must be fully funded for the benefit of our children, of our region, and of our Commonwealth.

As far as public safety goes, I have seen it all: recruitment, training, and retention difficulties, unprecedented workloads and compressed compensation and pay, employee turnover and ongoing budget reductions… We need someone in the Senate who understands the difficulties currently faced by our law enforcement community. If elected, I would be the only former sheriff in the Virginia Senate. I will be a voice for public safety and law enforcement.

Hines: 
1. Job creation and economic growth: Without a question, the 22nd District’s greatest need is increased economic vitality as we are not living up to our economic potential. More jobs, better jobs, and greater economic opportunity will solve many of the secondary problems facing the district. The district has plenty of resources to attract new business and grow current business, however, our focus has been too nearsighted as we have the potential to compete in a global environment and need to think beyond our immediate borders. Quality education (K-12) and trade schools are critical to growing the workforce in to district as well a strong public safety program.

2.  Stop government overreach: As state senator, I will oppose unfunded mandates and will work extensively to streamline the permitting process, cut red tape, and ensure that Virginia is the most competitive state for business and the district is one of the most competitive in the state.

3.   Prioritize technology investment such as last mile broadband internet access and comprehensive cell phone coverage. 

Why are you the best choice to represent the 22nd District?
Washington:
I was born and raised in the 22nd District and I have spent my career serving localities within the 22nd District. I share the values and concerns of the 22nd District and I will be a voice for the district in the Virginia Senate.  As the only candidate who has held an elected public office, I understand the importance of constituent services.

Hines:
We need different leaders at different times. There will be more economic development policy determined in the next three years than in the recent history of Virginia. I am the only candidate with a business and economic development background running for this Senate seat and can provide a perspective that is sorely missed in the state legislature. Having been born and raised in the district and having worked in every locality in the district, starting with my father’s survey and engineering firm, Maxey-Hines, and then as partner with Timmons Group, I know the district better than the other two candidates and have a comprehensive understanding of the needs of the entire district.

Peake: 
My experience. My life, professional and family history give me the unique ability to understand and represent the values of the citizens of the 22nd District. I have lived and worked in the district for 26 years. I have raised my family here. I have a long history of community service in the district. The district is overwhelmingly conservative and Republican. I represent those conservative Republican values. I am the only proven conservative Republican in the race.

Have you ever run for or held elective office?
Hines:
I have never run for or held an elected office, however, I think that is a distinct advantage because I can provide a fresh and different perspective, a business person’s perspective that is sorely missed. I have spent most of my career as a consulting engineer and economic developer working with localities throughout the district and the Commonwealth to invest in critical infrastructure and land economic development deals. That work, coupled with my experience as a successful business person, has uniquely prepared me to help the 22nd District reach its economic potential. This is not a time for blind obedience to the party line; but for a true anti-establishment candidate that is willing to stand up for the district. 

Peake:
I have never held public office. I ran for the Republican nomination for the 22nd District in 2011.  I served on the Commonwealth Transportation Board for four years. I was appointed by Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Washington:
Yes. I was elected four times to serve as sheriff of Fluvanna County, serving over 14 years.

Many believe the 22nd District is a classic example of a gerrymandered district. Do you think the 22nd District is gerrymandered? Would you support redistricting efforts?
Peake:

I am against gerrymandering. I will follow the Virginia Constitution when it comes to redistricting. The Constitution states that legislative districts should be contiguous and compact.

Washington:
For too long, career politicians have dominated the redistricting process. Politicians should not be in the business of choosing their voters – our democracy depends on it being the other way around. I believe that politics needs to be taken out of the redistricting process. I am in favor of non-partisan redistricting solutions.

Hines:
When I chose to run for this seat I promised I would not sell my soul or sacrifice the best interest of the citizens of the district I was born and raised in for the good of a particular party. Too often elected officials bend to the pressure of party politics at the sacrifice of their constituents. Spanning nearly half the length of the state, in theory the 22nd District has been created for the greater good. Too often the economic good of this district is sacrificed for the benefit of the golden crescent (Northern Virginia to Richmond to Hampton Roads). The 22nd is a disparate and fractured district that is a currently represented by three different regional economic development marketing groups (Central Virginia Partnership, Virginia’s Growth Alliance and Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance), four different planning district commissions and now four different GO Virginia regions.  As senator, I will become the “gelling” voice and bring unity and cohesion to a district that has frankly been “patched” together to serve parties that have no real concern for the need for jobs and economic growth in our largely rural district. 

What are your thoughts about the new presidential administration?
Washington:

I did not vote for our president-elect but at the end of the day that is how our process works. Only one candidate can win on Election Day. As a proud American citizen, I always have had and always will have great respect for the office.

Hines:
In my opinion, the election of Donald Trump was an anti-establishment vote and a rejection of the status quo. It is abundantly clear that the voters are tired of partisan bickering and government overreach, having rejected the political establishment and want leaders who are committed to principle and capable of getting the job done, and allowing our economy an opportunity to grow. I am excited about the possibilities of a “business first” administration that will limit government, and I believe that those who supported this business minded approach will rally behind my campaign.  While I believe we need to have business minded approach, I also realize the importance of making sure that we protect the rights of ALL citizens.  We need to make sure we have programs in place that insure opportunities for everyone to succeed in life, no matter what their background, and programs that insure long-term care and wellbeing of all of our citizens. 

Peake:
I am excited about the Trump administration.  I was endorsed early on by Virgil Goode who was one of the chairs for the Trump campaign in the 5th Congressional District.  Many of Trump’s campaign staff are working for me. Trump was the much better alternative to Hillary Clinton.