Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin will face off against former governor Terry McAuliffe in the election November 2. Early voting begins September 17. Youngkin spoke with the Fairfax Times about his platform and how he plans to implement change if he wins the governor’s race in November.
According to Youngkin’s website, “One party Democrat control is failing Virginians: our recovery from the pandemic ranks in the bottom 10 among states, our students are behind in school, violent crime has risen to 20-year highs, and much of government, like the Virginia Employment Commission and Department of Motor Vehicles, is broken. People are voting with their feet and leaving the Commonwealth.”
The current state of public schools in the Commonwealth is a big concern for parents and students alike, and Youngkin addressed his ideas to improve the education system. “We have actually seen the standards which kids are asked to achieve drop down for reading and math in the country. We need to ask our children to do better before they can move on, which does mean, in fact, asking our kids to do better in school,” he said. “Not necessarily making more SOL’s but we need to have them be administered appropriately and see progress. We need to invest in teachers and schools. Ask our schools to perform. When 88 schools [in the Commonwealth] didn’t reach accreditation, standards were lowered. I want to raise them. On top of that, on day one I will launch 20 new innovation charter schools, we only have eight, and add more governor’s schools.”
When asked how he plans to keep schools open amid the Delta variant being a major concern for students and staff, he addressed why he wants schools to stay open. “I worry about my opponent. He embraces mandates, closing this, closing that, and I fear we are going to watch the current [Northam] administration shut down schools, businesses and the economy,” Youngkin said. “That would be an awful outcome for Virginia kids who are so far behind now. Virginia is ranked 44th in job recovery, and we must stay open. I advocated for everyone to get the vaccine, it is the best way for administration and teachers to be safe, but I wouldn’t impose it on folks. Should they get sick, we will have resources around them.”
While children were home from school, many Fairfax residents faced unemployment in the wake of the pandemic. Thousands of citizens had issues getting their unemployment money from the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC). Youngkin said he wants to address this problem. “It is one of my top issues, under making government work for Virginia. The VEC failed Virginia. The VEC is at the top of the list, it took an order from the courts for the VEC to get to work and file the backlog of claims. We were last in the nation at one point in filing claims,” Youngkin said. “Northam processed $40 million in fraudulent claims that shouldn’t have been processed. It will take stepping back and fixing it, by getting a massive upgrade in systems, processing and people. I can’t wait to get to work and fix it, I have a 30-year business career and know how to get things done. It was absolutely shocking how poorly the VEC has responded and how our governor handled the spike in claims. We need customer service, and to make sure we have a real upgrade in the system by adding more qualified people with a customer service orientation.”
Youngkin also has a plan to create more jobs in the commonwealth to help those who suffered or lost their jobs during the pandemic. The creation of jobs stems from his plan called #JumpstartJobs which is part of his Day One plan. His Day One plan states that he will immediately get to work on top priorities on the first day he is in office should he win the election.
“Virginia over the last eight years has only generated 45,000 jobs. States around us have blown us away, generating five to 10 times as many jobs, and the economy has stalled out. We have an economic growth and job creation problem,” Youngkin said. “We have to make sure we keep our businesses open. We cannot allow it to be closed again and we have to protect the Right to Work status, which my opponent will get rid of. We have to develop talent; schools need to focus on preparing kids to be college or career ready. I was heartbroken by small businesses suffering, and I will declare a 12-month small business holiday on taxes for them and create 400,000 jobs over four years. We have real work to do, we can get this done.”
Youngkin touched on his plans to work on Virginia’s mental health system as well. “Our mental health system is in a state of crisis, liberal leadership has failed to react and create more capacity. Capacity meaning space and staff, we need to actually focus on recruiting adequate staff,” Youngkin said. “It would relieve the law enforcement community so patients can get care faster. So much of our mental health system challenges is drug addiction, particularly opioids and meth, and we need to support those that are suffering and provide a path to recovery. The mental health system has been ignored by the Democrats; l will get it fixed.”
During the pandemic, many areas across the country saw a rise in crime. Youngkin described his plan to address this issue in Virginia. “There has been a rise in crime that has been startlingly high in Virginia, with a 20-year high murder rate. When McAuliffe was governor, it went up 43 percent. There is misguided policy coming from progressive leadership,” Youngkin said. “I will invest in law enforcement, fully fund them, their salaries and training. My opponent wants to get rid of qualified immunity, and law enforcement feels demoralized, and they need a governor who will support them. We have got work to do. It is a top priority.”
Another priority for Youngkin includes eliminating the grocery tax which the Commonwealth has in place. “Virginia has become so expensive to live in and we need to go to work to cut costs. Virginia is one of only 13 states to tax groceries,” Youngkin said. “It is an important part to overall cut the cost of living, I would cut it on day one.” Food purchased for home consumption is currently taxed at 2.5 percent in Virginia.
When asked if he had any closing notes for Fairfax County voters, Youngkin wanted to mention his goal to unite all Virginians. “I will go to work for all Virginians, build a rip-roaring economy and lift up all of Virginia,” he said. “I will work on schools so kids can compete and live their dreams and make our communities safe. Virginians can come together and make Virginia the best place to live and raise a family.”
For more information on Glenn Youngkin visit https://www.youngkinforgovernor.com/