Conversations with the candidates: The battle for the 7th District

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(WFXR) — Two new faces are looking to fill the seat for the 7th District in the House of Delegates in Virginia.

Democrat Derek Kitts and Republican Marie March are looking to represent the district after Del. Nick Rush announced he would not run for re-election. Kitts is an Army veteran who was awarded the bronze star, twice and a purple heart. March is a self-proclaimed Trump Republican who’s known for her successful small businesses.

WFXR News sat down with the candidates to discuss some of the important issues to voters in the November election.

For March, one of her main focuses is on creating opportunities for people to open small businesses throughout the region.

“Obviously, we do need big companies, like our utility companies and our energy companies. However, small businesses are kind of really what has driven the United States of America. So we need to put together programs to help encourage mentorship programs within small businesses to do trade programs to really get our youth and the millennial generation,” said March. “You know, they really haven’t had those opportunities to really get out here and open small businesses. So, I’ve got a great plan to put together a program for our district to work with some of the wealthier business owners to help get the younger generation to start opening their own small businesses.”

For Kitts, it’s all about having a plan to ensure businesses recruited to the area, have what they need.

“I retired out of the Army and realized that jobs were hard to come by, especially within the area, and so I started my own business. And all of my lessons have been painful and expensive because I have learned. And I started from scratch. I reinvested every penny I made back into the company. I didn’t take a salary out of it, because that’s what you have to do to establish, you know, to move forward. I think that’s important as far as being able to bring jobs to the area,” Kitts said. “I think before you try to spend you need to pull it back in and invest. We need to be able to invest and offer tax incentives. We need to be able to offer the opportunity for businesses to come to the area and know that this is a business-friendly region, that will work with them to try to offset any other businesses that they might have. Now, we can do this through grants, we can do this through tax breaks we can do this through partial exclusion zones, but we can also do this by standing up and having the proper person to stand up and say we’re here to help you.”

Another big focus for Kitts is education. He wants to push for education funding reform. He says the formula for the Virginia Standards of Quality in Education is inadequate.

“You know, a lot of people don’t realize that we used to have a dedicated source of funding for education and then it was done away with a few years ago and rolled into the budget. Now, this isn’t a Democrat or a Republican issue. This is a Virginia issue. This is an urban-suburban, versus rural issue and I think we need to throw some things out. Sen. Stanley actually came up with a good plan. He is the Republican senator for Southwest and he came out with a good plan and it was backed by Sen. McClellan and this was to add equity within the SOQ formula,” said Kitts. “If you study the formula a lot of it is tied, or all of it is tied, to real estate and the issue with that is it’s a perpetuating problem of the poorer the area the lower the retail value for real estate the lower and more that affects your formula for getting money and the offset from the state. But if we had a dedicated source of funding and if we decided over equality we went with equity in education and funding then we’d be able to get our fair share.”

He also feels more needs to be done to hire and retain more teachers in rural areas.

“One of the ways we do this is we need to be able to offset the teachers’ costs for going to school. We need to be able to actually provide performance increases for money, bonuses and student loan repayment, by giving them that time in rural areas,” said Kitts.

March is pushing for school choice. She wants to see the voucher program put in place.

“I’m an advocate for school choice. So, what you’re going to see from me is a very strong advocate for school choice in Richmond. I want to see the voucher program to where, you know, you take your tax dollars and [those] tax dollars follows the child to that school. This will open up opportunities. It will open up even small business opportunities for the millennials and the younger generations to open up say their own school. So, the more we can privatize the situation the more competition will enter the market and it will become about what the parents want versus what the teachers want. Right now, we’re being hamstrung by the Democratic Teachers’ Union. They’re controlling our Board of Education and we see these situations going on across our whole state where the parents are so so upset right now. So, it’s time to flip the script and put into place school choice and let people decide how their hard-earned tax dollars are spent. This will fix the whole problem. Teachers will start to be appreciative of their pay and they will start to look at the parents as the customers versus the schools deciding what type of politics will be taught,” said March.

Their differences in opinion on what needs to happen in education aren’t the only place they disagree. Their opinions also differ when it comes to vaccine mandates.

“I think it’s tough to sit here and tell somebody what they have to do, but I also look at it like this. I’m retired army. I did 24 years. We did a lot of vaccinations. We did a lot of shots. You didn’t ask the questions, because you knew overall it was for the public good,” explained Kitts. “I understand that some people are nervous. I understand some people are worried about the efficacy of the vaccines, but I think we need to look at a larger picture and realize this isn’t a political issue.”

According to March, “We need to make sure that patients have the right to choose and they take the accountability to choose how they want their healthcare to go. This is not up to the government. Your healthcare should never be up to the government. It should be your private choice for how you want to proceed. It’s your life and we have to get people willing to take responsibility for themselves.”

Where the candidates do see eye-to-eye is the importance of your Second Amendment rights.

March says she feels all of the gun reforms passed in Richmond go too far.

“We need to not just repeal our gun rights, but we need to actually push to move the envelope even further. There’s 21 other states that have already passed Constitutional carry, where you don’t have to pay for a permit to carry your gun. I’m in favor of that. I plan to carry that as a bill,” said March.

According to Kitts, service to the country and support and defense of the Constitution are two of the biggest things in which he believes.

“I’m a big Second Amendment guy. I believe that some of the reforms that we’ve pushed forth, I don’t agree with,” said Kitts.

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