This is the first in a series of articles about the three Democratic candidates for governor of Virginia. The Democratic primary is Tuesday, June 9, at which time one will be chosen as the party’s candidate for governor, to face off in November against Republican nominee Bob McDonnell.
Today’s article examines Brian Moran and his platform. Tomorrow’s article looks at Terry McAuliffe, and the series finishes Monday with a look at Creigh Deeds.
Brian Moran represented Virginia’s 46th district in the House of Delegates from 1996 until 2008, a run that included chairing the House Democratic Caucus. Moran says it is his legislative and leadership experience that sets him apart from his Democratic rivals, Terry McAuliffe and Creigh Deeds.
“The leadership position that I’ve had over the last eight years has allowed me to travel Virginia, understand the people, become connected to the people and grounded in Virginia,” he said. “And that’s why I enjoy so much support of local officials like Mayor Zeidler. She knows, I’ve been to Williamsburg many times, I understand the challenges and the opportunities that exist.”
Williamsburg Mayor Jeanne Zeidler endorsed Moran in March, citing his focus on transportation, education and health care issues, issues that Moran is noted for having worked on in the House. Moran noted that, as Democratic caucus chairman, he worked closely with governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine on legislative affairs.
“That leadership position over the last eight years has provided me not only the opportunity to travel Virginia and understand our needs and opportunities, but also allowed me to work quite closely with both Mark Warner and Tim Kaine,” Moran said. “I want to continue what they started.”
Transportation issues are a key focus of Moran’s campaign, a focus he says is grounded in his years of transportation legislation.
“No one has worked harder on coming up with a comprehensive transportation package than I have over the course of my legislative career,” he said. “It has to be comprehensive, which will include innovative ways to address transportation congestion, like telework and telecommuting.”
In 2004, Moran sponsored legislation requiring state agencies to establish protocol for some state workers to telecommute; today, he said, 20 percent of the state workforce does so.
Moran also pushed legislation promoting pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly community policies.
His greatest transportation focus, however, is on improving railways in the state.
“One of my top priorities will be to achieve high-speed rail, passenger rail, from Washington, D.C. to Richmond and ultimately Hampton Roads,” he said. “That will take traffic off 64 and 95. It also will allow better and smarter growth and development opportunities around the infrastructure of rails.”
Moran said investing in Hampton Roads transportation infrastructure would benefit the entire state because of the port’s trade and commerce.
“The port of Hampton Roads can grow and be a tremendous economic engine for the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. There are thousands of jobs that are available in Hampton Roads if we make the right transportation investment and the infrastructure to be able to move containers out of the port and out into distribution centers.”
Investing in Hampton Roads, Moran argued, would create thousands of jobs and boost the state’s economy.
But increasing the economy expands beyond improving the state’s transportation infrastructure. Moran said small businesses are a key aspect of business in Virginia, and he seeks to help stimulate them and the economy.
“I’d provide a small business job creation tax credit of $2,000 per employee hired. That will stimulate our economy and get people back to work. I’ve also called for the elimination of the corporate income tax for small businesses,” he said. “We need to start paying attention to our small businesses that line Main Streets all across Virginia, in small towns and big cities.”
Foreign investment in Virginia business is also a focus of Moran’s economic plans. Moran said he has traveled overseas to meet with foreign investors in India, Israel and elsewhere to investigate how to attract foreign business to the state.
The key component of creating that attraction, Moran said, is a strong, skilled workforce.
“We must work with our high schools and our community colleges and our colleges and universities to collaborate with our business community to graduate students in the fields that are necessary, like health care professions, like technology, science, engineers, mathematicians,” he said. “That’s what these [foreign] businesses are looking for, so we need to coordinate our curriculum with what the needs of these businesses are. That’s what will attract jobs and opportunity to Virginia.”
Establishing affordability and accessibility of higher education in Virginia ties in with Moran’s economic goals.
“We need to recognize how important our colleges and universities are to our economy. Our colleges and universities — William and Mary, Virginia Tech, so many other great colleges — they serve as economic engines for our communities. We must make sure that they continue to be affordable and accessible.”
Moran himself worked his way through Framingham State College and the Catholic University of America law school, which he says gives him personal experience in struggling to pay for college.
A better educated workforce, he said, means a greater economy.
“If you look at college graduates and their earning ability, it’s at least $20,000 per year more if you have a college degree,” he said. “So we need to ensure that they’re affordable and accessible to our students.”
Turning to the environment, Moran made sure to note he was the only gubernatorial candidate to announce opposition to the proposed coal plant in Surry. He said it seemed counterintuitive to introduce pollution into the Hampton Roads watershed while spending millions of dollars cleaning up pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.
“I believe we should be pursuing clean alternative sources of energy like wind and solar energy, and developing a clean energy system as opposed to relying on a new coal plant in the Chesapeake Bay,” he said.
Increasing alternative energy in Virginia complements Moran’s environmental and economic plans.
“I’ve called for a quarter of our energy to come from clean, renewable energy sources,” he said. “This will stimulate a market in the private sector to generate the technology necessary so that we can store the energy created from wind and solar on a 24-hour basis. It will reduce the costs of those alternative energy sources.”
Further, Moran has called for the creation of a green technology center to organize various research and development projects across the state.
He also hopes to create a wind farm off the coast of Virginia Beach from windmills produced in Virginia, which would create jobs and increase alternative energy sources for the state.
Moran also noted that tourism, especially Colonial Williamsburg, is an essential industry in Virginia. Moran recently met with CW Foundation President Colin Campbell to discuss tourism issues, which he said include promoting conventions in the Historic Triangle to draw in more tourists.
“I have an understanding of how important tourism is the to the Williamsburg area. We must do everything we can to attract conventions and tourists to the Williamsburg area,” he said. “It’s a clean industry. The folks come, they spend money and then they go home. You don’t have to build a new school or buy a new fire truck for them and it’s exactly the type of clean industry we need to promote, and I will as governor.”
For more information about Brian Moran and his platform, visit his website and check Williamsburg Yorktown Daily in the coming days to learn about Terry McAuliffe and Creigh Deeds.