Senate 38th

Ben Chafin, left, and George McCall, candidates for the 38th District Senate seat.

For all the contested local and state races in the November general election, the News & Messenger asked the candidates several questions in writing and allowed them to respond in writing. Their responses are reported with minimal editing. Each candidate was limited to responses of 250 words to each question. Candidate responses are presented alphabetically.

 

Ben Chafin

 

How will you address wages and housing issues in the commonwealth?

 

The best way to raise wages is to have a thriving and robust economy. My top priority has been and will continue to be to diversify and grow the economy of Southwest Virginia. I have carried and sponsored legislation every General Assembly session with the goal of creating a better business environment for Southwest Virginia. Whether its workforce development, supporting pro-business policies, or directly recruiting businesses, I have been a champion for the business community and job creation.

 

Along with the rest of the Southwest members of the General Assembly, I have been working to bring new jobs and ideas to Southwest Virginia. I co-chair the recently created Invest SWVA, an innovative regional marketing initiative aimed at fostering the growth of high-wage jobs. Our region is prime for business investment today with unmatched cost and quality of living. We are driven to bring new opportunities to the region.

 

Southwest Virginia is my home. As your senator, my main focus has been to strive for the betterment of Southwest Virginia. Working with the region’s economic development team, I have pitched our region to multiple companies that established new facilities in Southwest Virginia and created new jobs. We need to continue to market our region and lure new industry to our communities.

 

We have made great strides in turning the Southwest Virginia economy around. I will continue to be a strong voice for Southwest Virginia and will continue to lead on economic development to create new jobs.

 

How does the legislature meet the needs of aging infrastructure and still keep taxes low enough to make the commonwealth viable for business and industry?

 

The budget passed this year with Republican leadership in the senate exemplifies how we can prioritize the core functions of government and keep taxes low. We passed a conservative budget with one billion dollars in tax relief while investing revenue in increased infrastructure spending, more education funding, and millions in broadband grant funding to connect more homes with high-speed internet.

 

I helped lead the effort that resulted in comprehensive tax cuts across the board for Virginians. An increase in the standard deduction lowers your taxable income and, as a result, you pay less in taxes. In addition, most taxpayers received a rebate this fall returning your hard earned money. Our plan constituted the second largest tax cut in Virginia history.

 

The top infrastructure project for Southwest Virginia is the funding of broadband internet. I have continuously fought for and championed more funding to expand internet access in Southwest Virginia. Through my role as a member of the Tobacco Commission, I have spearheaded funding broadband projects throughout the region that has directly led to thousands of new homes gaining access to the internet.

 

I will continue to fight for lower taxes, a growing economy and for broadband funding and policies in order to better Southwest Virginia.  My record shows that no matter if the work is big or small, I take pride in being the Senator for the 38th district.

 

Background

 

Chafin lives in Lebanon with his wife, Lora Lee. They have three children and two grandchildren.

 

Chafin is a practicing attorney and beef-cattle farmer. He serves on the board of First Bank and Trust Company.

 

Chafin holds a Bachelors of Arts in Economics from ETSU, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Richmond School of Law.

George McCall

How will you address wages and housing issues in the commonwealth?

Thank you for the question as these issues has long been ignored by elected politicians. Wages can be addressed in two ways: 1 - create more competition; and 2 - promote small business. In regard to competition, we need to provide incentives for companies to invest in our area. The working times have changed; we’ve seen businesses grow increasingly technological over the last decade. There seems to be an app for everything now. As such, we need to create reliable cell phone service and broadband so that companies can actually compete in our area. It’s 2019 and it’s unacceptable that workers are seen wandering around on the job in search of signal. I met with a family who couldn’t help their daughter with her homework because they lacked reliable WiFi to get the job done. It’s such a shame that these dire needs haven’t been addressed, but as your representative I assure you they will.

In regard to housing, we must promote the growth of small and independent businesses. Often these jobs, while fewer in number, can be more competitive in pay and more stable. There aren’t massive layoffs in this sector like there sometimes are in corporate jobs. I’d like to reward good ideas and hard working Americans. We can make financial support available to sound startups, and the rise in jobs will create competitive wages. In response to housing, it’s time we expanded new and modern neighborhoods for young families to inhabit.

How does the legislature meet the needs of aging infrastructure and still keep taxes low enough to make the commonwealth viable for business and industry?

As previously discussed, the needs required creating viability in business and industry will be met by introducing proper incentives for businesses to invest in our area. I currently occupy the position of executive chairman of the board of directors of First Sentinel Bank, and I’ve been in the banking business for 41 years. I’ve managed the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars during my tenure—I will use this expertise to create a proper environment for business growth.

Aging infrastructure will be combated with programs designed to restructure and reuse aged buildings. We need to make use out of our abandoned business buildings by filling them with dwelling areas or with new businesses, either small or large.

The way to create more funding for things such as repairing roads, managing power supplies, and restructuring buildings is not by hiking up taxes or creating new ones. It is, instead, to focus on retaining our talent while creating incentive for new talent to occupy our district. More suitable conditions for employers create more jobs. More jobs create an influx of more young families either staying or moving here. More families being raised here will boost the schools’ populations once again, and furthermore new families will bring in more tax dollars. These dollars will be reinvested into our vibrant community in order to meet our needs of aging infrastructure while being more than viable for business and industry, all without senselessly creating additional pointless government authorities or mindlessly raising taxes.

Background

McCall is a banker and weekend farmer who lives in Cedar Bluff. He and his wife, Lyn, have a son, Connor, and a daughter, Haley (husband Matt).

McCall graduated from Richmond College, University of Richmond Class of 1978, with a B.A. degree in economics.

 

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