In light of the upcoming November elections for the first congressional district, the Bullet contacted the campaign offices of Republican candidate Rob Wittman and Democratic candidate Krystal Ball to ask them about their stance on issues relating to UMW students. Rob Wittman was unable to be reached. Krystal Ball’s director of communications, Michael Ford, met with the Bullet. His responses are below.
One of the hot topics for students of state universities recently has been tuition, and both state and national funding for higher education. In terms of Krystal Ball’s campaign and what she’ll do if she’s elected to the congressional seat, how is she looking at tuition? Is she looking at proposing any additional legislation?
Krystal understands that making sure that the youth of the country is able to be educated at a higher level is an absolute priority. In terms of how it will actually work out in Congress and the ways to do that, that’s a bridge she’s going to have to cross when she gets there. But she’s a big advocate of making sure that the young people of Virginia have the opportunity to go to college and making sure they’re educated at all levels.
The UMW students recently were in an uproar over the arrest of 15 students in relation to marijuana charges and charges related to narcotics possession with the intent to distribute. I know that California is looking this upcoming month at legalizing marijuana and voting for or against that. What is Krystal Ball’s stance on that?
Krystal thinks that’s a state issue. Each state has their own situation and their own right to govern themselves, and if the state of Virginia chooses to put that on the ballot or bring that up in the state assembly or state senate, then that’s their choice. But Krystal’s seat is in the federal legislature, and that’s another story entirely. It would be a Virginia state choice to legalize it or not.
I know a lot of students are looking at graduation in May with apprehensive feelings. I know that the Obama stimulus package only covered a set amount of time, and that the nation, while recovering from the recession is still not doing incredibly well in terms of unemployment. How does she intend to address these issues in Congress?
That’s a great question. Unemployment very much affects the first district of Virginia. Krystal would propose in Congress a 50 percent payroll tax cut. That stimulates jobs and… [makes] sure that those small businesses which are the backbone of our economy are able to flourish appropriately.
How would that translate to college students looking for jobs? They’ll be looking for entry-level positions, so how would increased small business funding and things on the local level benefit students looking for those positions?
Well, making it possible for small businesses to flourish at a local level allows students who are here at Mary Washington, William and Mary, Christopher Newport, to look around them and find thriving small businesses to do internships with and to apply [to work] for directly. If there is a set of thriving small businesses in a district, the people coming out of the colleges are more likely to keep [their] talent here at home, too. So that’s…a direct correlation. Making sure small businesses are healthy and are able to hire new talent is key.
Is there anything else you think Krystal would like to say or a message she would like to convey to college students looking to vote on Tuesday?
It may not seem like it right now. You guys are inundated with classes, exams, what you’re gonna do when you get out, you know what I mean. As college students, you guys have a lot to think about and maybe voting isn’t at the top of that list. But it’s invaluable to place your vote. It’s almost effortless; it’s important. People have fought and died for your right to be able to do that. Its something that’s very important and key to a healthy democracy to have a constituency that votes. You have the ability to put people in a place of power that can help you when you get out of college that are able to help stimulate the economy around you. It’s a conscious choice to participate in democracy that you choose to live and thrive in. It’s a crux of democracy [and] can’t work without it. You have to vote.