A handful of small-business owners and store managers in the heart of Fairfax City got a chance to talk one-on-one with Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine Monday afternoon.
Throughout his campaign, the former governor has been regularly doing walking tours and holding what he calls “small business roundtables” to try and connect with the business community.
In Fairfax, he chatted about a past trip to Seoul with a Korean gas station owner, posed for photos with the staff of a Thai restaurant and paid a visit to patrons at the Greene Turtle happy hour.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Kaine said, and is also something that harkens back to his early political career as a city councilman and mayor in Richmond.
State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Dist. 34), who escorted Kaine on the tour through the heart of his district, said personal contact is important to winning over voters and politicians being in touch with the issues businesses are facing.
“The economy in Northern Virginia is driven by small businesses ... especially the area I represent,” Petersen said. “When [candidates] take the time to stop by ... it makes a huge difference.”
Lyn Adams, the owner of Christian gift store Joy Unlimited, received a visit from Kaine despite the signs in her window for Republican congressional candidate Chris Perkins. Adams said personal connections do make a difference to her, and that is why she supports Perkins and Petersen.
As for the Senate race, Adams said she doesn’t think she has made up her mind yet.
“I vote for whomever I think is the best man,” she said. “I’m still listening to what they’re saying.”
The biggest issue small-business owners he has talked to are concerned about is access to capital, he said. Regulations put in place after the financial crisis in 2007 were aimed at large banks, but are having a trickle-down effect on smaller community banks.
“They aren’t the ones who caused the fiscal crisis and they shouldn’t be overly regulated,” Kaine said.
If elected to the Senate, he said he also wants to look at ways of “leveling the playing field” for small businesses versus larger corporations, such as adjusting tax deductions and credits and increasing government purchasing from small businesses.