Interview with Amanda Blalock (I), challenger in the House District 88 race
In anticipation of the upcoming election on November 7th, BTW is conducting a series of interviews with local candidates. Today, we present the responses from Amanda Blalock (I), one of 3 challengers in the House District 88 race.
Only parts of Stafford County are actually in HD 88. The part of the county circled in orange on the map below highlights the area in Stafford that falls in the 88th.
BTW: Tell us about yourself
My name is Amanda Blalock. I have spent most of my adult life advocating for my community. I left the Spotsylvania County School Board in June of this year, where I proudly served for 10 years. I am running for the 88th House of Delegates because I have personally witnessed the breakdown between state and localities. As a long time elected official, I have seen first hand how hard it is to get our legislators moving to support our district. I want to connect those dots! I was very successful in getting things done as a member of the school board, and now I want to bring my drive and passion to the the 88th district as your state representative.
BTW: Why did you decide to leave your the Spotsylvania School Board position to seek the House District 88 seat?
I believe as an elected representative it is within your power, in fact it is your duty, to do your very best for the people you represent. Not a lot has been accomplished over the past 16 years and it’s time for new leadership in the 88th district. It’s a very diverse area with very different needs. As an Independent candidate, I will work with both parties and can make decisions based on what I think will best serve my constituents, without having to consider my "base" and my campaign contributors. There needs to be a rapport between state and local governments and I strongly believe I am the best candidate to create the environment in which we can work together for the people that elected us.
BTW: How do you think that your experience on the School Board has helped prepare you for the delegate job?
As a long term a school board member I have worked closely with all of our local and state officials on budgets, strategic plans, and legislative priorities. I have learned how the system works. Richmond needs a leader that will tackle the hard questions, engage in the tough conversations and be willing to cross party lines for the common sense vote. As chairperson of the school board, I founded the Legislative Reception. This is a reception where our board invited surrounding school boards, along with all delegates and state senators to the table once a year. This reception is still held today and fosters that connection between state and local governments that is so needed. My experience as an elected official for 10 years has made it possible for me to step back and look at things through a broad lens. I am excited about taking my energy and passion to the state level. The sky is the limit as to what we can accomplish if I'm elected!
BTW: As someone who has served on the Spotsy School Board for ten years, education is near and dear to your heart. What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the school systems of the counties in HD 88? What would you do in Richmond to help address these issues?
Yes, public education is near and dear to me and I believe that a everyone regardless of their economic status deserves and has a right to a quality education. Education is the key to life long success. There are many school related priorities for me the top being:
-Making sure we are fully funding public education. I will say no to vouchers.
- Stopping unfunded mandates
- mental health support for students
-revisit SOQ (standards of quality) they should include nurses.
-end SOLs and replace with other assessments that don’t hold schools divisions and teachers to a unobtainable standards
-did I mention school divisions need to be fully funded?
BTW: Recently, the southbound stretch of highway from DC to Stafford on I-95 has been dubbed "the worst traffic hotspot" in the entire U.S. to the surprise of no one who lives here. What do you believe can be done at the state level to help alleviate these out-of-control traffic issues?
Our areas serious traffic issues have come up at every single debate and is no doubt one of the largest issues facing the constituents of the 88th district. We need to first approve a regional transportation authority. Most of the surrounding regions have this and due to lack of leadership in Richmond we are behind the eight ball. It is time we step up and advocate for our commuters and travelers right here in our area. Localities and local governing bodies need to prepare infrastructure prior to approving massive growth. More VRE lines, more bus service and other alternate transportation options need to be made available. Making sure that we support and advocate for opportunities for teleworking is also key. Unfortunately, space in a brief questionnaire won’t allow for a full discussion but know this is on the front burner of the Blalock campaign.
BTW: Stafford County has been battling some serious complications due to rapid growth. Our infrastructure troubles have been compounded further by the recent decision by the General Assembly to drastically restrict the proffers counties can receive from developers. Do you feel that this restrictive law should be revisited and if so, how do you think it should be amended?
The issue of proffers is at the heart of what my campaign is about. Proffers were originally used to get developers of large, new communities to help pay for new streets, sidewalks and sewer systems. The Virginia Senate apparently felt that they needed to limit what money could be collected from the developers and are overruling the local city and county governments in their negotiations with the builders. This is something I would want to take a closer look at, and the reasoning behind the bill. One thing if for sure, my focus would be on communities and small businesses.
BTW: The events of Charlottesville have rekindled further debate regarding the display of confederate monuments and here in Stafford, the Confederate flag that flies over 95. What role do you feel the government should play in removing these items, if any?
My position has been very clear on the Confederate monuments and flags - anything that is meant for oppression or intimidation has no place on government property. I do support museums preserving history and sacred land. I find it’s unfortunate that the Stafford Board of Supervisors has not simply passed an ordinance lowering the height flags can be flown. We as a community have to stand up against racism on any level. The flag that flies as you enter Stafford county is not representative of the wonderful community. It is time this country starts to have the hard and uncomfortable conversations about race and discrimination. This world has changed and our country has changed. Less than 100 years ago, women were not allowed to vote. There was a time this country thought segregation was OK. Our country needs to continue to grow and change. I will continue to take a strong stance against any type of discrimination and racism, and I will fight for equality for all..
BTW: The failure to attract Harris Teeter to the Aquia Towne Center development has sparked discussion in Stafford regarding the role of local government in giving tax incentives to businesses to spur on economic development. How would you work towards increasing economic growth and job creation in our region?
Local governments often offer tax incentives to attract local business that will bring new jobs to the area. Good paying jobs attract residents who will live, work and play in our communities. I think this is a decision, once again, that is best left to the local boards to decide. They know their budget better than anyone and what they are able to offer to attract new businesses to their grow their economy. From the state perspective, we need to do our part to make sure the public school systems are top notch. Anyone thinking of moving to an area will inevitably want to know the quality of the schools. They want a good quality education with small class sizes. State government can work with local school boards and supervisor boards to see that the schools are fully funded!
BTW: The tragedy in Las Vegas has once again placed the gun control debate in the national forefront. Where do you stand on this contentious issue?
I believe in the right to bear arms. I believe in the Second Amendment and I am authorized to conceal and carry. I was raised and taught to use firearms properly and how to store them locked away safely. Guns are not only for defense, I come from a family of hunters, skeet shooters, and gun collectors. When this is part of your culture as it was mine you learn the seriousness of being a gun owner and value your right to carry and own firearms. When a person drinks and drives, we don't blame the car, we blame the person. I do not believe a criminal will go through the proper background checks to obtain their firearm. If someone has ill intent to do harm and break the law they certainly will obtain their weapons illegally. In some cases as we have seen in recent weeks even when obtained legally they can still modify to make them an illegal firearm. I do support universal background checks and more strict gun show laws. However I wouldn’t support the one gun a month law. I will never support taking away the second amendment.
Thanks so much to Ms. Blalock for participating in our interview series! If you would like to learn more about Amanda, please visit her website at blalockforva.com, at her Facebook page, and on twitter @blalockfordelegate.