Opinion

Opinion
OPINION: Random Acts of Bureacracy Make Me Cranky
October 12, 2017
1

Everybody seems to be aggravated about something all the time these days.

I don’t remember it being this bad when I was growing up or even when I was raising a family.

My aggravation started when I received an email from my bank letting me know that my credit score had changed and to call their credit service department ASAP to review.

My mind started to race about the possibility of my identity being stolen. Visions of the many advertisements promoting identity protection ran through my mind as I recalled the internet stories telling how peoples lives were destroyed while trying to correct the situation. I called the credit service to get the full story of the situation.

The credit service was accommodating informing me of the reason why my credit score had decreased by more than 100 points in the last 30 days. It was caused by the 3 new notifications of accounts that were put in collections . I was taken back being unaware of any reason for the need for collects and what was generating the problems.

The first issue pertained to an unreturned library book valued at $30 that was placed in collection. I discovered that my son had checked out a book and the library assumed I was responsible for the book, not my 20 year old son with the same first name. I had to contact the local library to correct this mistake and shift the responsibility to my son and inform the collection and credit service to take it off my report

The second issue was a $25 charge for a missed appointment of my adult daughter from our family medical practice that was reported to collections. This situation developed because the doctor’s office did not realize that my daughter had reached an age that she was responsible for her own health care and was never sent a bill for missing the appointment. This was corrected after many conversations with several administrative assistants informing them that I was not responsible for these bills for my adult daughter. They reluctantly informed the credit service of the mistake that would take 60 days to show up on my report.

The most time consuming collection issue was dealing with the free magazine subscription that I was given as gift for purchasing retail products at a national retail store for opening up an account. I was told the subscription would be free for 6 months and would cancelled after the 6 months was over. The problem occurred after the 6 months subscription had ended, the company continued the bill my account each month for several months without my knowledge since the account was closed. It was sent to collection for non payment. It was time consuming and frustrating to correct because of the time it took to find the right person in the company that had the power to correct the problem. It took over a week to locate the person that understood the situation which apologized for their internal $40 billing mistake.

I’m mad as hell for the amount of time that was required to contact each company and having to talk to many different people to locate the person with the authority to correct the mistake. The reality of having to wait for up to 120 days for the corrected information to be received and changes reflected on my new credit report is irritating All this aggravation created over a total $95 of internal mistakes from the companies and organizations that reported these collections issues not of my making. I had to address these issues to correct because of the impact to my credit score which affects our day to day lives.. This was very aggravating and I am mad as hell to have to go through it. I am sure that I am not the only person to have this happen to them, so I can understand why people are so aggravated with life. My sign would read “ just aggravated ”

 

Opinion
Rental standards: Find a code that will work
October 6, 2017
2

I was not at the recent meeting for the proposed Town Inspection Code but wanted to put my “two cents” into the discussion. I have been a landlord for more than thirty years and currently own forty rental units in Front Royal on Cherrydale Avenue (which will not be subject to the proposed inspection code). When we bought these units, they were one step from slums. Our intent was to “provide decent housing at reasonable cost for deserving people.” I had considerable experience with rental units previously and thought this would be a way to serve people who sometimes fall through the cracks.

On the day that we took possession, there were more than thirty water leaks and a number of jacked-up vehicles in various states of repair distributed around the property. Less than twenty keys were provided by the prior owner and most of the exterior doors did not lock. The siding was asbestos. Interestingly, the tenants were responsible for cutting the grass in front of their apartment even if they lived on the second floor. There were no stoves and few refrigerators. Tenants were responsible for providing these themselves.

Several hundred thousand dollars later, we had a much improved property with new kitchen cabinetry, steel entrance doors and dead-bolt locks, new bathrooms, carpet, appliances, etc. and began to rent to our new tenancy. After about ten years, I told my wife that we were going to change the motto. She asked what the new one was. I told her that the new motto was “We will not be your next victim.” We once again began to renovate for the second time. New tenants were required to have decent credit, adequate income and a few other qualifications that pertain to responsible people.

So, having had considerable rental experience with both those in the lower income bracket and those who have higher income, I feel qualified to comment on the upcoming inspection code.

First of all, it is virtually impossible to provide decent housing at a low price. Everything done to maintain or improve property costs money. This in turn causes rents to rise and therefore causes real estate taxes to rise. The better the apartment is, the higher the rent is. The better the rental unit is the better tenant who will be attracted.

Poorly maintained rental units are less desirable and are frequently, all that an individual can afford. They may be a single mother with one or more children, a menial job and no education. Their spouse or baby-daddy may have left them. They sometimes live on food stamps. Maybe they have been abused or have an alcohol or drug problem. Whatever the issues, these people need a place to live that is cheap. That is all that they can afford.

One little change causes their entire world to collapse. The car won’t start or their babysitter didn’t show so they cannot go to work. Then their rent becomes overdue and the Town shuts off their utilities. If they cannot find a way to resolve this, they might vacate their apartment without notice, sometimes leaving huge piles of furniture, rotting food and a filthy apartment. The apartment will be vacant until the landlord finds a new tenant and does what is necessary to get the apartment rented. Fixing the bare minimum will not make the apartment attract more responsible people. A large expenditure will likely result in better tenants but the price will rise considerably and those who are not economically viable will not be able to afford the higher rent. Where are they going to live?

It would seem that a rental unit inspection prior to occupancy would solve the problems associated with poorly maintained rental housing but it will not in my opinion. An inspection will not improve the rental unit appreciably. It will simply mean that the landlord will repair the items delineated in the inspection report. Door and window locks, lack of heat, leaks and sagging floors, might be repaired but the unit will still be a slum.

As an example, suppose that the kitchen ceiling is sagging from a plugged toilet upstairs. The inspector requires the owner to repair the ceiling and fix the toilet. The owner sends someone to the upstairs apartment to unstop the toilet and puts a piece of quarter-inch plywood over the sagging ceiling, attaches it using drywall screws and the job is done. It meets the inspector’s requirement but the apartment is still substandard and has not been improved at all.

Interior painting, replacement of older appliances, new bathrooms, etc. are not included in inspection deficiencies that could be done to improve the apartment unit but a landlord cannot be compelled to make the changes that could be made. Therefore, the inspection items will be completed and the rent will rise to pay for these costs. Meanwhile, the unit will still be a slum.

The Town previously had an inspection law that I personally succeeded in having overturned by the Circuit Court. This was due to the fact that the ordinance that the Town passed violated state statutes (which the town fathers knew about from the beginning but chose to enact anyway).

Typically, this is the way it would work: Before an apartment could be rented, the landlord would make an application for an inspection. The inspection was scheduled for a certain day (which could be in one day or several days later). No time was given so the owner would need to make arrangements to have someone available all day while waiting for the inspector. Ultimately, the inspector would arrive and always find several insignificant items that needed repair. I was once cited for a light switch cover that had “speckles” of paint on it. Once the required repairs were done, the apartment would have to be re-inspected before occupancy which meant going through the entire scheduling routine again.

The proposed ordinance under consideration would also require the owner to pay a fee to the town for the inspection. The cost of the inspection, waiting time for the owner, etc. would fall on the owner. If the inspector found nothing wrong, the costs for compliance would still fall on the owner and once again, the costs will be passed on to the tenant who cannot afford to pay more rent. Further, it is likely that deficiencies will be minor and the rental unit will still be a slum.

So how do we make an attempt at resolving at least some of the problems with substandard housing without causing expense to the owner and tenant for an inspection and the creation of an entire new department in city hall? A simple idea would be to have the Town include a notice to new tenants when having the utilities put in their name. The notice would inform them that they can ask for an inspection either by the Town or a shared inspector from the County acting on behalf of the Town. A checklist of serious violations could be printed on the form and the tenant could check off what they think is wrong and either call, email or deliver the form to the appropriate Town office. This will NOT rectify the slum or substandard rental properties in our town but neither will an “inspection law.” At least this would allow tenants from any location in town to call for an inspection. The new proposed ordinance only applies to certain parts of town that have been designated as “blighted” such as downtown and surrounding areas.

Winchester, Portsmouth, Petersburg and almost every other town in Virginia has slums and substandard housing. Have they found a way to solve their problems? Answer: Not to my knowledge.

The concept of a new inspection ordinance to replace the one found illegal is almost worthless. The previous one did not change anything (when the old law was in effect) and a new will not change it this time.

Town Council: Show us some personal initiative and go out and research to see what other communities have done and find out if they were successful. Simply sitting in a chair and voting for a new ordinance when the old one was of no value will not fix the problem. Hopefully, someone is listening and willing to work to solve these issues.

John Costello

Opinion
OPINION: Former military writer angered, sorrowed, by presidential lying to justify America’s part in the Vietnam war
September 26, 2017
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Like many others in Warren and neighboring counties, I’m avidly watching Ken Burns’ “Vietnam” series on the local public television channels. Avidly because I was a military writer in the Pacific through the 1960s, trained for combat correspondents’ duty in Vietnam if and when called, and watching now how Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, and Generals Westmoreland, Abrams and others consistently lied to we correspondents as the war progressed. The only difference between now and then, that cast of characters knew how to lie proficiently and effectively for more than a decade.

Following each night of “Vietnam” I have dwelt on my memories of the Vietnam war and become more and more angered by the senseless slaughter of 57,000 young American soldiers, including my best friend, Bill Barton of Pontotoc, Miss., a fellow Associated Press correspondent who was fatally wounded on the distant battlefield. Others of my profession also gave their lives…

Military writer Malcolm Barr Sr., is “imprisoned” in a bamboo enclosure while taking part in war games with the 25th Infantry Division in the Koolau Mountains of Hawaii in the mid-1960s.

As I watch this excellent series, my admiration and love for the guys in the military of that day increases, particularly those of the First Marine Brigade. This Hawaii-based group deployed to a place, South Vietnam, that I so desperately wanted to go.

However, while the Associated Press sent my journalist colleagues, including Bill Barton, to Saigon, they sent me in the opposite direction for duty as a Washington correspondent in the nation’s capital. Bill was bitterly opposed to the war; I, guardedly, was for it. I felt guilty when he died and have not thought about it much since. Until now. Watching Ken Burns’ series, I am angry, angry at how the American public was fooled for so many years at the cost of so many lives. In countless interviews I was fooled, carrying the propaganda, the lies, forward to the public. I’m not ashamed to say I was glad to be overlooked.

Barr also took part in war training with the U.S, Marine Corps First Marine Brigade. He was invited into the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association (USMCCA) about 1975.

I do not intend to belittle in any way my military friends’ service to their country during Vietnam, nor that of all the young men who are portrayed so gallantly in the scenes from the film series, but gaining more knowledge of the war through this series puts me increasingly on my colleague Barton’s side. At the time, his death to me was not warranted (“why my best friend?” was the question I asked myself) and now, as I watch the television series night after night, I begin to see the senselessness of it all. As a military reporter, and a frequent interviewer of McNamara, Westmoreland et al, I cannot believe how we in the media, and more Americans than we at the time realized, were taken in by our leaders in what fast became a losing battle.

I am sad as I write this. Repeating myself, I am relieved that the AP, in 1967, assigned me to Washington, D.C. rather that to Saigon. To my colleagues who are, with me, proud members of the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents’ Association, I say “Semper Fi” and may those they left behind continue to rest in peace.

Editor’s Note: The writer’s son, Malcolm Barr Jr., is a graduate of Randolph Macon Academy and an Iraq war veteran. The writer, Malcolm Barr Sr., is a veteran of the Royal Air Force.

Opinion
OPINION: KKK has no place in our town
September 26, 2017
16

Yesterday, I returned to my car in the park & ride lot in Front Royal to find a flyer inviting me to join the Klu Klux Klan. It was quite a shock and an ugly reminder of the thousands of black Americans they lynched over the past almost 100 years.

I hope everyone understands why the KKK has no place in our town, and knows about their long history of violence targeting primarily black Americans, but also Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians and, until recently, Catholics. They are the definition of a radical hate group.

What I found particularly disturbing was the language they used on their flyer. It sounded a lot like the language a religious cult or a street gang would use, offering solidarity and saying “You will not be alone anymore.” It also vilifies the Black Lives Matter movement, which is a non-violent social justice movement. The flyer also claims that the KKK can keep members’ identities secret. If they are not a hate group, as they claim, why do they need to hide? They most certainly are not a Christian organization. The fact that they are trying to appeal to members of our community who may be isolated, resentful, and weak is appalling and cowardly.

Front Royal, as a community, must come together to fight back against any infiltration by the KKK. Through peaceful resistance and the example of our solidarity across differences of race, class, sexual orientation, culture, and other categories, we show what kind of town we are — one whose diversity makes it strong.

Heather Davis

Opinion
OPINION: Dental care essential to good health, but who can afford it?
September 17, 2017
3

We are told constantly that a secret to a healthy life is good dental care. There are discussions in the news about medical health care cost and virtually nothing on dental care for people.

I am mad as hell about this. I recently cracked an aging tooth that had served me well for over 50 years. My dentist informed me that I would need an implant instead of traditional bridge work. He stated that not replacing the tooth was not the option. It would cause problems for the remaining teeth and causing health issues later.

I started researching places in the area that specialized in the implant procedure since my general dentist was unable to do implants. I located a national company that specialized in dental implants which happened to have an office in Northern Virginia. Little did I know what I was about to discover when I walked into the beautiful offices with walls of pictures of the many smiling people showing off the handy work of these talented dentist.

I was taken into the office of my dental coordinator for a consultation of the procedure and then quickly taken in for my free X-ray. The next discussion was with the dentist who gave me an evaluation of what needed to be done for my situation followed by the dental coordinator telling me the cost to replace the tooth. Things took a turn for the worse.

I was informed that they required payment 80% up front with the balance due after the tooth has been placed. They do not submit insurance claims but will give you dental codes that your insurance company might agree to reimburse. The entire cost for my one tooth implant would be $4500.

Being taken aback at he cost, I did more research and confirmed that it was the going rate nationally. I immediately contacted my dental insurance company for what was covered. The dental insurance company confirmed that they would cover up to $1600 dollars and that would wipe out all other dental coverage for the year.

It was upsetting. I started to research other countries to get reasonable dental care and discovered a BIG secret. One of the fastest growing businesses in Mexico is providing high quality dental care to US and Canadian citizens. I contacted the best dental care offices located in Cancun, Mexico and was given references to contact about the quality of the service.

I was amazed at the compliments from these people who were very satisfied with the service, and more importantly at one third of the cost even after you include the airfare. You are looking at $1500 including airfare versus $4500 for the same procedure here.

I am writing this because something is really wrong with medical health care and dental services in the US.

There should be no reason for these inflated dental costs and lack of good dental insurance coverage. It takes away the opportunity to obtain these critical services for a large part of the citizens needing it in our country. Maybe I missed it but I am not aware of any discussion from our elected leaders addressing this critical issue.

I’m mad as hell and I don’t know what to do.

Maybe I should stand outside with Mr. Sherp with my sign saying, “Dental care”.

By:  Michael Graham, Front Royal

 

Opinion
OPINION: I’m mad as hell and I’m not taking it any more
August 31, 2017
1
 
For some of us movie buffs, this was the tagline that made the movie “Network” famous. To set the scene for those that have not watched the movie, a famous TV news broadcaster becomes disillusioned with the hypocrisy of the political and social situations of the times. In his despair, he has a mental melt down during a live broadcast and proceeds to share his thoughts on air of his total feeling of helplessness in correcting any of these situations. He closes the broadcast by telling everybody listening to go open their windows and shout, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not taking it any more”. This one effort started a national movement that gave people a way to express their frustrations with the current affairs and instituted change in the movie.
 
I realize that movies are not real life but movies do imitate real life. Every so often, we can experience something like this happening similar to the movie but in the current reality of life. I have been following the efforts of a local citizen of Front Royal who decided that he was “mad as hell, and was not going to take it any more” named Mr. Len Sherp. He decided that he was going to commit his time and financial resources to express his frustrations by standing every Wednesday for several hours during the day at the gazebo holding a sign that highlights a “word” that addresses the hypocrisy of our times.
 
We live in world that is moving and changing so fast that one can easily feel helpless and out of control. Every day I wake up to the constant stream of news. It has become an overwhelming task to filter out the facts from fiction or the use of new terms like “alternative facts”, in determining what is right or wrong or good or bad. It has become so confusing, that we have lost what makes us great as a people when we put the party and their non-forgiving ideology before the good of the county from both political parties.
 
I know good things can happen when different views are brought to the table when addressing problems. We have lost our ability to respect each other’s opinion and work out solutions. When there is an attitude of only winners and losers and the constant demonization of each other, nothing gets accomplished. So I commend and support what Mr. Sherp doing is by offering all of us an opportunity to join in to express our frustrations out of our sense of being out of control during these changing of times.
Michael Graham
Front Royal, VA
Opinion
OPINION: EDA Workforce housing: a fairytale?
August 18, 2017
4

It just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser!

This latest narrative that we are expected to believe makes one feel that he has followed the white rabbit down the rabbit hole.

Let’s see if I’ve got the story straight.

At the request of the Aikens Group, the EDA has secretly been working with them since November 2014. (Another top-secret project of the EDA.) Apparently, the Aikens Group needed the EDA to secretly pull the permits. (Why a well-established, premier development and management firm of apartment buildings and hotels would need help pulling their permits is unknown. Maybe they are incapable of pulling their own permits.)

According to the EDA, the Aikens Group picked the site. (It’s just pure coincidence that it belongs to Jennifer McDonald’s aunt and uncle, and that they own the real estate firm that Jennifer McDonald is licensed with as a real estate agent.)

The land was donated by the said aunt and uncle, so that they could claim a tax credit. The Deed signed on June 6, 2016 shows that consideration of $445,000 was paid, even though the EDA insisted it was a donation. When questioned at the Council meeting on November 14, 2016 by that uneducated Councilman Bébhinn Egger as to why the Deed showed that $445,000 was paid for the donated property, she is told by Jennifer McDonald that that was merely an appraisal for the property so that Jennifer McDonald’s aunt and uncle could get their tax credit.

On April 28, 2017, the EDA announces that a previously secret construction deadline of March 1, 2017 has passed, and therefore the donated property will now have to be purchased for $445,000 because the poor aunt and uncle, for some unknown reason, will now no longer be able to claim their tax credit. The deadline was apparently so secret, that no Board member of the EDA could truthfully claim that they had ever heard of it. Neither could either the past or current attorney for the EDA.

It is then announced that actually there never was an appraisal for the property, but that the EDA will still purchase the property for $445,000 since they have already spent $500,000 for site preparation. (Maybe no one in the EDA has ever learned the basic business principle that one does not make a future financial decision based on sunk costs.)
When further questioned at the May 8, 2017 Council meeting by that still uneducated Councilman Bébhinn Egger as to why she was told there was an appraisal when there was not, where the $445,000 figure came from, and why Council was not told about the secret deadline when the EDA came before them on November 14, 2016, the EDA releases a 383 page pile of non-answers to her questions. (Maybe the $445,000 figure came from the same place that the $1.2 million Afton Inn value came from.)

In June of 2017 it is further revealed by the EDA’s Jennifer McDonald, that they were only kidding when they said they had sunk $500,000 into the project, it was really only $10,500.

On June 9, 2017, an appraisal is finally done on the property, and of course, it appraises at $450,000. The only comparable used that is in Warren County is the property itself, which the appraiser apparently thinks was sold in June of 2016 for $445,000.

And now we’re told that this project was really an Aikens Group project all the time. How the previously announced donation, the secret construction deadline, and the $445,000 Consideration on the June 2016 Deed fit into this latest story is unknown and perhaps unknowable by us peasants.

And all of this is for a phony “workforce housing” project, since there is no requirement that these apartments be rented to our beloved “workforce”.

Got it?

Now, where did that white rabbit go?

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments on the Royal Examiner are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of the Royal Examiner, National Media Services , Inc or any employee thereof. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability or validity of any information presented by individual authors and/or commenters and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.

Opinion
EDA workforce housing project: A case of more money than good sense?
July 26, 2017
4

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make any sound? The EDA is a bit different. It “appears” that many (and maybe all) directors were not aware of the March 1, 2017 deadline to begin construction on the Work Force Housing project. Were they even aware that the EDA was to have a 3.5 acre parcel of land “gifted” to them if they met the deadline to break ground by a certain date?

These are not stupid people. Therefore, it seems to me that they should be able to remember something as significant as a $445,000 gift of land for the Work Force Housing project and been made aware of the need to begin construction in March 2017. Would one expect that subsequent to being advised of this gift (and its deadline), there should have been significant further discussions month-after-month regarding construction? How big? How high, who is going to build it? Can they start construction by the deadline? Once again, it sounds like almost nothing was accomplished between 2014 and the deadline date. If true, why was the lack of discussion NOT brought up from time to time by the EDA members? The only reasonable conclusion is that they did not know about the deadline or they forgot.

The reason for having minutes is to memorialize the issues discussed at a meeting and any resolution. If the minutes do not reflect anything regarding the Work Force Housing deadline, it seems apparent that there was no discussion or resolution.

The main unanswered question in my mind has to do with the seemingly positive stance of the EDA Board to continue with the WHP regardless of its cost or benefit. Why build an apartment building on a dead-end residential street in Front Royal that would cost more than $243 per square foot to construct and $1,400 per month to rent (on a break even basis)? Maybe there is some individual out there who wants to buy this project but if so, I personally believe that they have more money than good sense and I also have a bridge to sell them.

So, if the tree never fell nor did it make any noise, should the EDA go back and cut it down now and say that it happened before?

You be the judge.
By: John Costello, Front Royal.

Opinion
Creating a conversation: polite observations and viewpoints encouraged
July 25, 2017
0

Through our contributing writer, Malcolm Barr Sr., the Royal Examiner is proud to introduce a political column by his friend and colleague (and former political boss!), B. Jay Cooper, whose resume includes deputy press secretary to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George. H.W. Bush, and Communications Director for the Republican National Committee and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Retired and living in Massachusetts, Cooper, like Barr, is a former journalist and author (“Mac Baldrige – The Cowboy in Ronald Reagan’s Cabinet,” co-author Chris Black, journalist and CNN correspondent). Cooper writes as a knowledgeable critic of current affairs in Washington, D.C. Excerpted from Cooper’s blog, publisher Mike McCool expects the column will add to the local political discourse that takes place at Front Royal’s Gazebo each Wednesday at 5 p.m. Comments on Cooper’s opinions and observations may be made below and should include the writer’s full name for publication, also his/her telephone number and address for the file. No unsigned comments, or comments without the foregoing information, will be published by the Royal Examiner.


Trump family tradition: Lies

By B. Jay Cooper

It will take months, probably years, for the Russia-meddling-in-our elections’ investigations by the special counsel, the House and the Senate to finish their work. Once the special counsel is done, there will be a legal finding of whether laws were broken.

Any one of us mere mortals (non-lawyers) can say what we will about laws being broken but we do not speak with any formal authority. That is primarily up to Robert Mueller, the special counsel.

What we can say, without hesitation, is that President Trump and his administration, including at least one son, lie. They lie and then they lie to cover up their lies. They may tell the truth if the New York Times is about to print evidence, as evidenced by Donald Trump Jr. yesterday. READ MORE


The views of this author and blog do not necessarily reflect the views of the Royal Examiner or its advertisers. 

Opinion
Culpeper businessman throws hat into 18th District race
July 21, 2017
1

Name a job on a horse farm and I’ve probably done it. Every summer job I ever had was working with horses. After graduating from college in Charleston, South Carolina and working as an entertainer in Memphis, TN, I decided to come back to Culpeper to start my own business. I know how hard it is to be an entrepreneur in this area. Young people leave and rarely come back. We need to keep our talent here by expanding opportunity. I am one of the few younger people in this region who came back to run a business.

I understand the importance of having a strong local economy and encouraging small business growth. For that, we need better infrastructure, investment and skills training. First, I want to talk about rural broadband. Access needs to increase, prices need to come down. Many of us in District 18 receive our power from Rappahannock Electric Cooperative. Rural electric cooperatives (REC) are one of the most successful public/private business initiatives in the history of the United States. We need an internet version of that success story if we want to keep people from moving away from the 18th District and encourage business to start here. Making affordable broadband available for every Virginian will be a priority in my first term.

Next, let’s talk investment. Forbes recently reported that “Over 62% of millennials have considered starting their own business, with 72% feeling that startups and entrepreneurs are a necessary economic force for creating jobs and driving innovation.” On the flip side, the self-employment rate among workers 65+ is the highest of any age group in America (15.5%). To encourage our millennial talent to stay in District 18 and help our baby boomers retire into entrepreneurship, I support Lt. Governor Northam’s plan to drive economic activity and startups in rural areas. Specifically, his idea for a 2-year zero Business, Professional, Occupational License (BPOL) and merchant capital tax for new businesses in rural areas. This initiative will result in no loss in existing revenue to local governments. Sounds like a win-win.

Third, we need to ensure that our people have the skill sets that local businesses need and entrepreneurs can acquire. We need skills training for our veterans, our young people and our transitioning adults. The community colleges which serve the 18th are Lord Fairfax and Germanna. My own brother, Rory, graduated from Lord Fairfax in Warrenton. Germanna and Lord Fairfax are rich resources for developing a skilled workforce to fill good-paying, high demand jobs like cybersecurity, computer programming, and those in healthcare.

I came back to District 18 to start a business because it’s a beautiful place to live and it’s a wonderful community. It needs to be connected, it needs to be the home of opportunity in the Piedmont and it needs to have its eye on the future.

Tristan Shields, Democratic Candidate for the 18th District – www.tristanshields.com