Why are you running to represent Virginia’s Fifth District?
We have too many politicians and not enough public servants in Washington. I feel called to serve, and I see an opportunity to bring change to Washington. We don’t need more people who are going to Congress to spew partisan talking points. We need servant leaders who are willing to compromise in ways that benefit the whole. I feel that my experiences as a veteran and successful small business owner give me an insight into what changes can be made in D.C. to help people in the 5th District. This can be reducing regulations that stop businesses from creating jobs or understanding how to equip our military to be successful.
What would be your one top policy priority if elected?
My first involvement in politics was battling regulations around my distillery. I know from personal experience the problems federal regulations have brought to businesses in the 5th district and around the country. My top priority in Congress would probably be attacking that regulatory climate that harms business.
The country has been divided over the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. What are your thoughts on his confirmation? What changes are needed in the way sexual assault allegations are handled?
I am satisfied with the FBI investigations into Justice Kavanaugh. Accusers need to be heard and those accusations should be investigated whether for a Supreme Court Justice or a member of the media. In no way should sexual assault be tolerated or swept under the rug. Assaulters should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Do you think the Trump tax cuts have been successful? Why or why not?
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been successful. In my own business, I have been able to expand production and hire more staff due to the tax cuts. We are seeing increases in take-home pay for people all over the 5th district and businesses are able to invest in expansion.
The Atlantic finds that Charlottesville has the highest health insurance premiums of any American city. What can Congress do to lower premiums?
Our healthcare system has been broken for years. Democrats tried to fix it, so did Republicans. I don’t think we need another Obamacare or a “Trumpcare”, we need a bipartisan compromise. In Charlottesville particularly, competition will help lower prices. Optima had a monopoly in Charlottesville this past year and they were able to charge high premiums. Anthem returning and the potential for more competition can help keep the costs down in Charlottesville.
The Town Hall Project found that 48% of members of Congress held zero town halls in 2017. If elected to Congress, how would you maintain a continuous working relationship with your constituents? Can you commit to holding a certain number of town halls per year?
I live in Nelson County, right in the center of the district and I intend to stay there and take shifts working at the distillery when my schedule allows. I encourage people to visit me face to face when I am here in district. I will also work to schedule town halls to provide another forum where constituents could speak to me directly.
This September, President Trump introduced a set of tariffs valued at $200 billion. What are your thoughts on these tariffs? In formulating America’s trade policy, what are the most important factors to consider?
When I am in Congress, I will look at everything through the lens of if it helps the 5th district. Some of these tariffs are helping 5th district industries and some are hurting. I think we need to balance free trade with fair trade in a way that benefits 5th district farmers and industries. When tariffs start to hurt our farmers they need to be looked at, but sometimes short term pain is worth it for long term gain.
The Washington Post finds that black families, on average, have one-tenth the wealth of white families. How should Congress address this disparity?
Everyone should have the opportunity to live a successful life, which is one of the tennats [sic] of the American Dream. When I was growing up here in Virginia, there were times my family lived on food stamps. But due to the opportunities this country has given me, I am now able to own two of my own companies and help provide jobs for other people in my community. We need to make sure we have policies that give everyone an opportunity to live the American dream.
70% of college students graduate with a significant amount of student loan debt, which can pose a lasting financial burden on recent graduates. What policies should Congress consider to remedy this issue?
I have had student loans and my daughters have taken out student loans, so I can relate to the financial burden they can cause. Congress should look at expanding the Perkins Loan program, and also programs that make colleges and universities more responsible for their students. It is irresponsible for colleges to allow their students to leave saddled with debt and not prepare them for a career that can pay that debt off. I do applaud UVA President Ryan’s recent move to provide free tuition to students coming from families under a certain income level.
Which policy areas do you see as having the best potential for bipartisan support?
My desire is to make a bipartisan solution to our healthcare crisis. We can have a social safety net that covers people with pre-existing conditions while not forcing everyone onto a government healthcare system. The free market needs to have a hand in healthcare that can keep costs low and encourage innovation. But we need to keep the promises we have made in regards to our social safety net and providing healthcare opportunities for the less fortunate.