Today he issued a statement regarding the campaign issues for this election:
"Earlier today, my opponent announced his intentions to run for the 20th District House of Delegates seat, and I welcome the opportunity to continue the dialogue I have had with the voters of this district for the past eight years. My service to the citizens of the 20th District has always been about working together to keep Virginia and our Valley a great place to live, work and raise a family, and I am looking forward to sharing our shared accomplishments as well as continuing to work with the people of our district to shape a vision for the future.
"Working together, we have achieved many great things for our district, and together we will continue the progress we have started. Unfortunately, my opponent seems unaware of many of the things we have accomplished -- making Virginia the number one state for business, creating jobs here locally and throughout the Commonwealth, increasing funding for education and ensuring that Virginia students have access to high quality educational opportunities.
"As a former teacher, a father of four children, and an employer, I know that education is critical for our future and for our continued economic growth. In order to ensure every child has every opportunity for success, I believe it is important that we don't pit public against private schools, home schools against parochial education. Instead, we need to give parents choices, and make sure that all of our schools have the tools to succeed. I believe that we must reward good teachers, and I have introduced budget language to increase teacher pay. Valley Republicans, especially Senator Emmett Hanger and Delegate Steve Landes, have been national leaders in pulling states out of No Child Left Behind, and I believe that we can further improve education by reinvesting those funds in increasing teacher pay instead of duplicating acccountability that Virginia already has.
"We have increased funding for education in Virginia -- in fact, this year's budget provided $14.3 billion in direct aid to public education at local school divisions. In challenging economic times, we allowed school divisions greater flexibility in determining how best to use funds on educational expenses by granting waivers for textbook local match requirements. We worked to keep college affordable for Virginia students by directing $126.7 million in funding to lessen tuition increases on in-state students, and $10 million for a system-wide 8.5% increase in student financial aid.
"We have worked hard to protect and preserve our quality of life in the Valley, which has also meant creating a business friendly environment to create new jobs here in our area and throughout the state. Because of our efforts, we have seen companies look to the Valley to move and expand -- such as SRI's Center for Advanced Drug Research, which is projected to bring 100 high-tech jobs with average annual salaries of approximately $85,000 to our area.
"Just this year, after meeting in my office and listening to the concerns of representatives of our local arts and tourism communities -- including my now-opponent -- we worked together to develop legislation that I introduced this past January to help grow and expand arts and cultural opportunities in Staunton and around the Commonwealth. I worked with these organizations and my colleagues in the legislature to ensure we passed legislation that would help grow these arts and cultural opportunities and create jobs here in our area. Additionally this year, we funded $2.5 million for strategic expansion of tourism promotion across the Commonwealth -- which is projected to leverage more than $12 million in private sector expenditures.
"In addition to protecting jobs that would have been lost by the Governor's proposal to close the Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents, and bringing additional jobs to the area through the consolidation of VSDB to Staunton, we have protected our family farms and small businesses by working to abolish the death tax. We have helped our local wineries by creating a mechanism for them to distribute their products after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled they could no longer self-distribute, helping Virginia's small wineries to grow and create more jobs.
"Transportation is a critical issue for our Commonwealth and our District, which is why we worked to stop a detrimental widening plan recommended by Governor Mark Warner that would have placed burdensome tolls on I-81. Virginia has increased its investment into transportation, as well as implemented innovative new programs to help ensure Virginia taxpayers are getting the best value for their investment. Programs such as "Rural Rustic Roads," which we enacted in 2002, are helping to treat rural roads at a lower cost, while also preserving Virginia's rural landscapes. The Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA) is allowing for greater partnership between the Commonwealth and private investors to help our limited transportation funds go even further.
"Protecting our environment has been another issue we have worked on together. One of the key issues I worked on in 2006 was the successful passage of legislation -- HB1055 -- to bring cleaner air to Virginia through significant mercury emission reduction standards. I led a successful compromise for Virginia’s implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) and Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR). The result of this legislation is cleaner air in the Shenandoah Valley and across the state three years ahead of the previous schedule. This language also codifies the Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) regulation for CAIR, which limits sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, which address the concern of smog in Virginia by limiting the emissions of these greenhouse gasses. The latest report from the Department of Environment Quality showed an encouraging trend of decreases in toxins being released into Virginia's waters and air.
"My opponent also criticized my support for exploring the possibility of off-shore drilling for clean natural gas off the coast of Virginia. While I do believe that it is important that we all do our part to reduce energy usage, I also believe that it is of critical importance that America produces, at home, the energy resources we need to keep this country moving forward instead of remaining dependent upon foreign nations for energy. I have worked to try and ensure any future funds that may be paid to the Commonwealth for off-shore royalties could be reinvested in projects including transportation and the Chesapeake Bay.
"I also find it concerning that of the issues my opponent has chosen to highlight in his campaign, he has failed to mention public safety, which is a critical issue here in the Valley and across the Commonwealth. Over the past few years, Virginia has experienced a growing problem with gangs- a problem that has unfortunately extended to our part of the Valley, which is why we have passed new laws to give judges and prosecutors more tools to deal with gang members who commit crimes. With the continued growth of the internet, Virginians are also facing growing threats from those who would commit crimes online- from identity theft to child predators. We have worked hard to keep our communities safe -- increasing penalties for those who prey on our children through the production, possession or dissemination of child pornography. We have worked with Virginia's Attorneys General to pass tougher laws for spammers and those who commit other crimes online.
"As I have served the people of the 20th District, I have experienced first-hand the importance of working together in a bipartisan manner for the good of our district and our Commonwealth. The strong relationships I have made with colleagues from both sides of the aisle have helped me as I work to represent our district in the General Assembly.""Chris Saxman and I have developed a great relationship over the years. He truly believes that there are some things that government can do better, and we've built a great relationship in working together in a way that doesn't create a partisan divide. His desire to help is very genuine, and it comes through in all the meetings that we have, and I've really enjoyed working with him from that perspective." -Bill Leighty, Former Chief of Staff to Governors Warner and Kaine, December 11, 2008, Augusta Free Press"I look forward to continuing to discuss our many accomplishments, with the voters of the 20th district in the coming months, as well as hearing their thoughts and ideas for how we can continue to work together for the good of our community and our Commonwealth. I have always valued the feedback, the suggestions and ideas of the citizens of our district, and together I know we will continue to make Virginia a great place to live, work and raise a family."
"Great, articulate guy. Has wonderful, innovative ideas that force people to really examine where they are and hopefully we'll be able to work together to implement some of these innovations." -Delegate David Toscano (D-Charlottesville), 7-14-08, WMRA radio