Election 2021: State House of Delegates, 56th district

The Central Virginian asked the candidates for House of Delegates, 56th district to answer a few questions, and here's what they had to say. We start with Republican incumbent John McGuire, followed (see below) by Democrat Blakely Lockhart.

 

John McGuire:

Please provide a brief bio, including age, educational background, work experience, etc.

I was born and raised in Central Virginia. As a child, I spent my early childhood years in the foster care system, bouncing between nine different elementary schools. By the grace of God, my grandparents rescued me and my older sister from the foster care system and raised us until I graduated from Henrico High School in 1988. Following graduation, I felt a call to service that led me to join the United States Navy. I served ten years as a Navy SEAL defending our great nation against evil all around the world before returning home to Virginia. I founded a small business, SEAL Team PT Inc., a fitness company dedicated to helping teams and individuals become stronger, healthier, and more confident. Twenty-two years later, my company helps train Division 1 athletes, anyone aspiring to join the American military, and corporations all over the world. 

Why are you running for delegate?

I consider this a way to continue my service to a great country and the people of Central Virginia. Through careful negotiations, teamwork, leadership, and communication my team and I have solved five-year, 10-year, and even 20-year issues in our community and across Virginia. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you put your differences aside and work as a team.

What have you accomplished as a delegate, or hope to if you’re elected?

One of my proudest moments while serving in the General Assembly was when I helped Richard Oulton, a Vietnam Purple Heart Veteran, raise his flag in front of his home after a 20-year legal battle that went all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court. I had countless folks tell me it was impossible, but that’s no excuse. Richard served our nation in Vietnam and after two separate appeals, and a settled-on agreement with community members, we got him his flag back. Several other major accomplishments I’m proud we’ve gotten done in the General Assembly include raising teachers’ salaries, passing a spending bill that boosted rural broadband funding, and saving Virginia taxpayers over $100 million while helping the Goochland Drive-In Theatre, a local small business and tourism attraction.

What distinguishes you most from your opponent in this race?

My record speaks for itself. I’ve supported our law enforcement, I’ve helped increase teachers pay, and I’ve brought the entire General Assembly together to pass legislation that other legislators have spent years trying to pass. Through careful negotiations and teamwork, we’ve been able to bring constituents, stakeholders, and community leaders together to find common sense solutions to difficult problems.

What’s an example of a local government problem that you can help solve in the General Assembly?

Once again, I believe my legislative record speaks for itself. I’ve cut red tape for our education system, allowing teachers to work in multiple school districts across Virginia, and I helped lower milk prices in rural communities by bringing together key stakeholders to find a solution. 

What’s the difference between you and your opponent when it comes to educating schoolchildren?

I think everyone can agree that our children are number one in our lives. It’s simple, our children should be taught how to think, not what to think. As the radical left continues to push critical race theory that teaches our children to hate, we as parents must work together to rid these radical political agendas from Virginia’s classrooms. We must also champion the highest standards of education, so our children are prepared for a new generation of good-paying jobs.

What should the state do to address the issue of climate change?

Virginia has a long list of energy opportunities to take advantage of. That’s why we must continue to take an all of the above energy approach. We must NOT regulate and eliminate coal and natural gas that continues to keep the lights on at home or Virginia could end up being the next California with rolling blackouts. It’s about balance, and by balancing coal, natural gas, renewables, and nuclear, Virginia can be a leader in the energy industry.

What will you do to bridge the partisan divide and work with members of the other party to get things done?

I’ve brought Republicans and Democrats together to solve complex issues that affect our entire state. From passing our Virginia Veterans ID law, to finding solutions to help combat the opioid epidemic in Virginia, I know how to create a team to get things done that will benefit and help folks all across the Commonwealth.

 

Blakely Lockhart:

Please provide a brief bio, including age, educational background, work experience, etc.

Born and raised right here in the 56th District, I am honored to be running to represent my community and to be the first member of Generation Z in the House of Delegates at 23 years old. I am a proud product of Virginia public schools and pursued higher education at Christopher Newport University. There, I re-instated the university’s chapter of the NAACP and conducted research centered on addiction. I graduated with a degree in neuroscience.

I and the generation that I am representing truly understand the urgency of now. I am more than ready to take direct action to solve the problems that are facing our Commonwealth. I could not stand by as the needs of my district were being ignored and action was not being taken. When the pandemic was at its peak, I saw loved ones facing the same struggles that I had all my life as an individual with a chronic illness. Many people that I cared about were unable to receive proper medical care, fearing the consequences of unpaid time off, and left vulnerable in the face of the unknown. In those moments, our district needed an advocate fighting for them in Richmond. However, what they got was a delegate prioritizing higher office. I am not running for the sake of my own pride, I am running for the people of my district, regardless of party or affiliation. My goal is to serve the people, not serve the party.

Why are you running for delegate?

I was raised with the belief that if you wanted something done, you had to roll up your sleeves, and do it yourself. Failures caused by career politicians on both sides of the aisle have left our families with the brunt of the abuse caused by those failures. I could not stand by while our current delegate voted against expanding health care for Virginians, increasing teachers’ pay, and expanding high speed internet. We need action to be taken now, and I am ready to get to work.

What have you accomplished as a delegate, or hope to if you’re elected?

As a delegate, I hope to be a true representative for the people in my district. I no longer want my constituents to feel as if their needs are not being met. I want to take immediate action to ensure that every Virginian has access to high-quality and affordable healthcare options. No one should have to travel over an hour for an appointment with a general practitioner. I am ready to invest in our education system, guaranteeing equality in education quality from Northern Virginia to our rural communities right here in the 56th. We must use our taxpayers’ dollars to invest in the public schools that are educating our future generation of leaders. I am also ready to expand high-speed internet access across our Commonwealth. Access to the internet is no longer a privilege and we must make sure that no one in Virginia is left behind. From schools to community centers to private homes, we must expand the accessibility of the internet.

What distinguishes you most from your opponent in this race?

While there are many differences between myself and Delegate McGuire, the most prominent distinction is that I have no aspirations for higher office. I put off going to medical school because I saw a need for service right here at home. If I do earn the right to represent the 56th district in the House of Delegates, I will put the people of Louisa over Washington, D.C. This is my opponent’s third consecutive year running for office and all signs are pointing to the fact that he will run for Congress again next year. I don’t view the people of Lousia as a stepping stone to higher office, and I promise to be a fighter for the issues you care about if I am elected on Nov. 2.

What’s an example of a local government problem that you can help solve in the General Assembly?

This year, there has been an algal bloom advisory issued for the North Anna and Upper Pamunkey branches of Lake Anna in Orange, Louisa and Spotsylvania counties. These algal blooms are potentially harmful to those in the water and so the public has been urged to avoid contact with the water altogether. While most experts deem it difficult to remedy a bloom already established, there are measures to take to prevent it from worsening or preventing a new bloom altogether. If elected to the General Assembly, this is an issue I hope to help solve. I will present legislation that will encourage and facilitate the installation of rain barrels to limit the amount of polluted runoff that can infiltrate the clean water, as well as pond aeration. I will also push for funding of necessary research that will help educate the public on consequences of a changing climate and individual measures they can take to reduce the risk of future algal blooms.

What’s the difference between you and your opponent when it comes to educating school children?

I want to invest in the future generation of Virginian leaders. This starts in the classroom, with a profound focus on equity and equality. Public schools in our Commonwealth’s rural communities deserve the same opportunities that are awarded to schools in Northern Virginia, including ensuring the accessibility of high-speed internet. My opponent, however, does not like to use words like “equity. Delegate McGuire wants to take our hard-earned tax dollars and give them to rich families in Northern Virginia to help them pay for private and charter schools. Our public tax dollars must go to improving the public schools that our district’s children are enrolled in, not private schools that many constituents cannot afford.

What should the state do to address the issue of climate change?

I believe in investing in renewable energy along with educational resources on how to make clean modifications to daily life. These investments will help the environment, the economy, and the personal health of many Americans. 

Our district has the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the renewable energy market. We can actually save our tax dollars by investing in clean energy like solar power. There are examples of schools around the Commonwealth that are able to pay their teachers more because they have shifted away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy and I believe our district can do the same. Another benefit to the clean energy market is that the jobs we create in the industry cannot be outsourced to other countries and are here for good.

What will you do to bridge the partisan divide and work with members of the other party to get things done?

I am running for each and every member of my district, regardless of party or affiliation. My goal is to serve the people, not serve the party. I will not aim to isolate those that hold different views than my own. A vital part of being a representative is willing to listen to those that you are representing. However, it seems that many politicians have lost sight of this and instead are promoting their own ideological agendas. I want to listen to all the voices of my community and make sure that even those who did not vote for me know that I will be legislating with their best interests in mind.

Tags

Recommended for you