Every day, Americans of every creed, color, and class make a commitment to their country—and to one another—to preserve the rights and resources that make our nation special while laying a foundation for an uncertain future. Each generation building upon the last, this perpetual pledge is the driving force behind the success of our great country.
Our nation was built on the moral obligation to ensure individuals—no matter the color of their skin or collar—can excel and no community is left behind. It is incumbent upon Congress to ensure those who are willing to work hard and play by the rules are provided opportunity and the resources necessary to fulfill our commitment to each other and the next generation. Below are the priorities I believe we must focus on to get there.
Real economic opportunity in every community
The Fifth District covers a wide swath of Virginia. Yet from Warrenton to Charlottesville through the communities of Southside to Danville, the key to inclusive economic prosperity remains the same: entrepreneurs and small businesses driving bottom-up job creation and economic growth. I know this to be true from my time working with technology startups, where I learned about many of the challenges facing new businesses. Twenty-five percent of employees in the Fifth District work for businesses with fewer than 20 employees—well above the national average.
Let’s ensure folks have the tools they need to build a better future for themselves and their communities. That means expanding access to high-speed broadband, strengthening wireless networks, investing in workforce development, and reforming the tax code to provide lasting relief to working families and small businesses.
A health care system that provides every American with access to affordable, quality care
This goal is not a partisan one. Our leaders need to be open-minded and data-driven about how we’ll get there. The Affordable Care Act provided health insurance to over 20 million previously uninsured Americans, enhanced protections for those with pre-existing conditions, and removed lifetime caps on insurance. We should celebrate that progress and continue to improve the law by finding ways to lower costs and expand access.
My wife Emily is an OB-GYN, so I know well the Affordable Care Act also did much to improve healthcare for women by eliminating the practice of gender rating, which allowed them to be charged more for coverage than men, and improving access to contraception. I will fight to protect that progress and ensure that the federal government does not dictate health decisions to Emily and her patients.
TAKING ACTION TO ADDRESS THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC
The opioid crisis continues to devastate communities across our country, tearing apart families and inhibiting economic opportunity. My father passed suddenly of an Oxycontin overdose when I was in college, so this issue is intensely personal for me; as such, taking bold steps to address it will be among my top priorities in Congress. You can read my full plan here.
education that prepares all students for success in the 21st century
Public education was the great equalizer for me. My high school chemistry teacher, Mrs. Susan Smith, literally changed my life by inspiring me to attend the University of West Georgia on the merit-based HOPE scholarship, where I became the first in my family to graduate from college. Every child deserves a great school and a Mrs. Smith in their life because their is no better engine of opportunity than equitable access to a high quality education.
My life experience has taught me that post-high school education is the key to success in the 21st century economy. In Congress, therefore, I will work to ensure that students who are willing to work hard can graduate from college without a mountain of crippling debt. I will also fight to support a wide variety of pathways used by today’s students, including our robust network of community colleges across the Fifth District, work-based and experiential learning, and national service - all of which can provide the credentialed skills that lead to a solid job and good wages at a fraction of the cost of a traditional four-year degree.
Energy solutions that preserve Virginia’s natural beauty, build a stronger economic base, and lead to true energy independence
The dangers of climate change are real and frightening, but we don’t fear the future in America, we build it. I want to live in America where everyone is able to collect, store, and sell their own energy - let’s find innovative ways to achieve that goal and continue to provide families, communities, and businesses the energy they need to grow and prosper. That means incentivizing investments in a more agile, efficient grid and continuing to fund research into advanced energy technologies. Read more of my thoughts here.
I oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline because they completely overlooked our district’s most valuable natural resource - its people. As your congressman, I will work to reform the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) so that it can better meet the energy challenges of the 21st century.
Treating every American with dignity and respect
America was founded on the ideal that the future includes everyone. Since 1776, those who were initially excluded from that definition have fought for equality and justice under the law. It is an endeavor that continues today, and I am committed to serving as an ally to those who struggle until we truly achieve America’s potential.
Together, we can ensure that the criminal justice system treats minorities and the poor the same way it treats every other American. We can secure the right of a woman to be paid the same wage as a man. We can stand up to the bigotry that seeks to intimidate folks for the god they worship or whom they choose to love. And we can expand economic opportunity to the rural communities who feel that their country has forgotten them.
Making our government more efficient and responsible to the people
Anyone—no matter their party affiliation—can tell you that the way Congress is set up right now isn’t working. We have elected officials who are more worried about the wants of special interests and their donors than the needs of their constituents. I am a strong supporter of campaign finance reform that increases transparency, empowers small dollar contributions, and overturns Citizens United so that the voices of average Americans are elevated alongside those of the well-connected and special interests.
Having seen the incredible potential of technology in the private sector, I am also determined to find ways for the government to utilize modern technology to deliver better services at a lower cost to the American people. Seemingly small steps, such as allowing veterans to book their VA appointments with an app on a smartphone rather than waiting on hold for several hours, can go a long way towards improving life for many Americans.
Restoring a sense of service to Congress
In the Marine Corps, we all served the same mission, and we had to come together to achieve it, regardless of our differences. If we can ask that of the 18-year-olds protecting our way of life overseas, there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to ask it of our leaders in Congress.
I commit to always putting the public interest before my own and will work respectfully with any partner who is willing to improve the lives of the people in the Fifth District.