There was an excellent turn out at the House District 28 debate last night. Plenty of Falmouth residents showed up to hear Paul Milde, Susan Stimpson and Bob Thomas’ thoughts and reasons for running for the seat. There were many county officials in attendance as well, including Supervisors Maurer, Sellers and Bohmke as well as School Board Falmouth Rep Hirons.
All three candidates have experience running the county as all have served at various times on the Board of Supervisors. Each candidate took a slightly different approach in trying to show voters how they stood out and why they would make the best choice. You will find no endorsements here, this is a report to summarize the candidates opinions in their own words when possible. Please draw your own conclusions.
Paul Milde spent much of the evening emphasizing his accomplishments while serving for the last 12 years on the BoS. Both the preservation of the Crow’s Nest open space and his focus on the fight against sprawl during his tenure came up again and again. He also discussed his contributions towards improving Stafford’s roads, referencing the upcoming 95 interchange construction and the widening of the 610 and 17 corridors. He proudly and confidently proclaimed that “Stafford was a better place because of his service on the board.”
Mr. Milde also called out "one of (his) competitors” who has been mentioning temperament during the campaign. He stated that he “does not do go along to get along,” that he has a 12 year record of fighting for the people he represents. He said that he is running “because (my) passion is accomplishing things for the people I represent.”
Susan Stimpson planted her flag as a "successful tax cutting conservative” citing the 9 tax cuts her board made while she served. The county has exploded it's spending in the time since she left by 30 million, according to Ms. Stimpson and she stated she was the "only one in the race who has never voted to raise your taxes and I never will.” While she lost her bid for this same seat when she ran two years ago, she pointed to how her campaign then and now was one against the status quo, the status quo has not served Stafford well since her loss and that "the status quo isn’t working.”
Ms. Stimpson also pointed out that this is a republican primary with those principles and that neither of her opponents had mentioned life as an issue. She said she would passionately and lovingly defend women and their unborn children. She also brought the gender card into the conversation by mentioning that she was the only woman when she served on the BoS and that women are “natural collaborators” who can bring a different perspective.
Bob Thomas decided to emphasize his ability to work with others to get support and get things done. While he said that many achievements of the board could also be attributed to him, he stated "when you let others shine and you are there to support them and you don’t mind who gets the credit, you can accomplish so much more.” As a former Marine, local businessman and father of 8 (!) Thomas expressed a "core willingness and desire to serve." This desire began very early when while his single mother was raising him and sees this as an opportunity to give back to the community.
Mr Thomas wants to go to Richmond because he thinks that state lawmakers care but don’t "understand the local perspective”. He stated that his biggest issue is that " Virginia has a broken relationship with its towns, cities and counties, that "(Richmond) is burdening our taxpayers " According to Mr. Thomas, Stafford needs someone who can get votes to pass legislation, that he believes Speaker Howell endorsed his campaign because he has the temperament and ability to do just that.
Question: Explain your position regarding proposed "1 gun a month" legislation
- Milde stated that he is a lifetime member of the NRA for a reason. He said he remembered a time when 1 gun a month was the legislation and that it didn’t work then. He believed the idea was a bad one and would not support it in Richmond.
- Simpson characterized herself as a "staunch defender of second amendment” and emphasized the need for people to have guns in order to keep a line against tyranny. In her view, 1 gun a month law is a restriction and that most gun laws are restrictions on law abiding citizens.
- Bob Thomas chose to emphasize also mentioned his membership to the NRA and that he holds a conceal carry permit. He stated that there is no data that shows it would actually help or solve the problem and " a business guy does what the data tells you."
Question: The state does a lot. What should the state stop doing and why?
- Thomas questioned the effectiveness of economic development programs siting what he said was a lack of transparency and a potential waste of millions due to lack of oversight. He also mentioned the need for tax reform for small business owners.
- Milde cited unfunded mandates as one of the biggest problems coming out of Richmond. he stated that the proffer law was a bad one but was pushed through via lobbying efforts and that these special interests need to be eliminated.
-Stimpson said that the state should stop raising taxes. We have a majority in the house and senate but that even when we had all three branches in power, Republicans passed the largest tax hike in Virginia history.
Question: Without using the words "I love my community"or any reference to service in general, please tell the audience why you are seeking this office?
- Milde believes he would be an even more effective leader in Richmond. He states he has a record of proven results and achievements that are impressive.
-Stimpson expressed her desire to give the average person a voice. She believes she has a different perspective that could help fill the "real void in politics right now."
-Thomas stated that "Character counts and reputation matters in this job” and he believes that his reputation as the guy who reads all the reports and asks all the questions makes him an ideal candidate.