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Roanoke Free Press
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

OP-ED: James Harder candidate for the 12th District House of Delegates

James Harder

James Harder

James Harder is running for the 12th District House of Delegates seat, which is composed of part of Montgomery County, Radford City, part of Pulaski County, and Giles County.

Today, Southwest Virginia is at a crossroads. We offer overwhelming natural beauty, a strong community, high quality of life, and a rich culture. In order to ensure the New River Valley’s future, we need to work towards keeping our region a statewide leader in education and local business.  As a member of a business and farming family in this area for over five generations, I have always felt the need to give back to my community. The birth of my son last year reinforced my desire and passion to serve this area and advocate for our values in Richmond.

I’m running for public office to bring a unique blend of personal experience, community knowledge, and an eagerness to make a difference in the House of Delegates. I grew up learning the values of public service from my grandmother, former Delegate Joan Munford. She inspired me to get involved in serving my community and that led me to work on Congressman Rick Boucher’s legislative staff in Washington, DC. There I saw the power of constituent services and learned how important it was for a representative to be dedicated and connected to their community. From my Master’s and Doctorate work, I bring a deep knowledge of public policy and understand the way government can be a powerful force for good in our lives. My experience, passion, and competencies will help me serve the New River Valley and position Southwest Virginia for the future.

Education is the foundation of my platform. I understand the challenges and potential in our education system from my experience as a student in our public schools, community colleges, and universities, as well as being a teaching assistant at Virginia Tech. I will work to improve the funding for our K-12 schools and roll back the misguided plans my opponent supported that allows the Commonwealth to take over control of our local schools. I will also be a strong voice for the world-class universities that we have in the 12th District by keeping college affordable, encouraging growth, and promoting strong relationships with the surrounding community.

I grew up in a business family that valued the power of our local economy. I am committed to bringing jobs to Southwest Virginia, by working to support and showcase local businesses in the New River Valley. We must capitalize on our growing technology sector, and I will work to promote more commercialization of university research. One of my first acts will be to make sure that Virginia companies get first crack at state contracts—instead of companies from Mexico, China and India. I also believe the 12th District can be a leader in the modern renaissance of the small farmer. My brother is a local farmer, and I know we can find ways to connect consumers with local farmers to promote our local agricultural industry.

Lastly, one of the most pressing reasons I was motivated to run is the over-reach and extreme positions that my opponent has taken on women’s healthcare issues. I grew up watching my grandmother be a strong advocate for the rights of women and I couldn’t stand by as my own representative moved our Commonwealth backwards. I will stand up to the Republican extremists that are trying to take away a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions. Further, I believe that women’s rights should not be limited to discussions about reproductive rights and am a strong supporter of policies to establish equal pay, maternity leave, and other measures that promote fair and equal treatment of women.

This election is about which candidate represents mainstream values and will position Southwest Virginia for the future. I will bring my plan of improving education, enhancing our local economy, and standing up for women’s rights to be a strong voice for the New River Valley in Richmond. I look forward to earning your vote this November. Thank You.

 

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