Meet the Candidates for Governor: Senator Frank Wagner

Meet the Candidates for Governor: Senator Frank Wagner

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - We continue our series of interviews with the five candidates running for governor. Tonight, we talk to State Senator Frank Wagner.

In four weeks, voters will choose the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor in the primary election.

We asked each of the five candidates for a one-on-one interview in a location of their choice.  A place that tells us something about who they are and what they stand for.

State Senator Frank Wagner, a former Navy duty officer, chose the Virginia War Memorial.

"I think it's absolutely important that we remember those that give us the freedoms and allow us to have a democracy and an open exchange of freedom of speech, sharing ideas," Wagner explained.

The first idea he wants to share: he believes it's irresponsible for his opponents to propose tax cuts after the state just faced a $1.2 billion budget shortfall.

"We've got to make sure we have our fiscal house in order before we start to look at these things.  And I'm not going to go out and say this for the sake of trying to grab votes," said Wagner.

One of Wagner's top priorities is to improve Virginia's system of highways to keep the state competitive for new business.

"How you going to grow and diversify your economy if you don't make a bigger investment in infrastructure, transportation, and a broadband build out?" he asks.  "It cannot be done."

He'd pay for it with a sliding gas tax, rising when gas prices fall, dropping when prices rise.

"I maintain that our prices will be very similar to what they are in Maryland and North Carolina," he explained. "Maryland is just a few pennies more, despite having a gas tax more than 15, 16 cents more than what Virginia's is. The retailers will charge what the retailers will get away with."

Wagner wants to cap college tuition, saying he supported it when it was capped in the 1990s under the Governor Allen administration.

He also proposes having two paths for K-12 school accreditation, one for traditional schools with standardized tests, one for career technical training.

"That's where the jobs are today.  Ask any company what your number one problem is. 'I cannot find skilled people,' " he said.

Wagner is calling for stepping up the deportation of illegal aliens who commit crimes. We asked if he supports checking a suspects legal status when they're arrested.

"Oh absolutely," he responded.  "Checked, recorded and moved out of here. Even on arrest. I don't have to wait to see a conviction."

Wagner attended the Naval Academy and served in the Navy, has run ship repair and manufacturing businesses, and brokered bi-partisan compromises as a state legislator for 25 years.

"I know something about managing money and I know something about efficiency.  You want to grow the economy?  Let's make strategic capital investments where you expect a return on your investment," said Wagner.

Wagner faces former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie and Prince William County Supervisor Corey Stewart in the June 13th Republican primary.

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