Election day is six days away, and the race to be Virginia's next governor has been very competitive. It has culminated in a series of aggressive and negative attack ads.
With so many negative messages, it can be hard for voters to know exactly where candidates stand. We sat down with all three to find out what they really hope to do for the people of Virginia.
Ed Gillespie has been a lobbyist, a counselor to President George W. Bush, and chairman of the Republican National Committee. If elected governor, his top goal would be job growth, some of which he hopes to achieve through a 10 percent income tax cut, if state revenue allows.
He argues that the extra income will go back into the economy to boost and create new business.
"Not only would more of our hardworking Virginians be able to keep more of our dollars and spend them as we see fit, but we would end up creating more than 53,000 new, additional full time, good paying private sector jobs," he explained.
Gillespie hopes to lower health insurance premiums by allowing more insurance companies to compete for your business.
"We're looking at, next year, 57 to 58 localities where there's one insurer in the exchange, and that's no competition at all," he said.
He wants to expand mental health and behavioral services, particularly for people battling opioid addiction. And Gillespie hopes to boost teacher pay and ensure students are trained to fill vacant jobs in the skilled trades.
"We have a shortage of 3,000 welders in Hampton Roads. And we need more HVAC. There's going to be a 40 percent increase in HVAC over the next decade," Gillespie said.
Democrat Ralph Northam has worked as a doctor, a veteran, a state senator and currently serves as lieutenant governor. He says his top priority as governor would also be job creation and training students for those open skilled labor jobs.
"I have a plan called G3 which is 'Get Skilled, Get jobs, and Give Back.' It allows Virginians to go to community college for two years debt free with the understanding that once they become certified, they will give back a year in public service with pay or in a high demand area in Virginia," he explained.
Northam says he'll work to increase teacher salaries and the minimum wage. He wants to expand gun control, expand access to medical marijuana, and expand Medicaid.
"We have 400,000 working Virginians that don't have access to health care. That's immoral," said Northam.
He supports building the natural gas pipelines with careful review to ensure it meets environmental standards.
"The cost of energy is very important. We have to be competitive with other states. If we're not, then businesses and manufacturers are going to choose other states. It's just that simple," said Northam.
Libertarian candidate Cliff Hyra is a patent attorney who lives with his family in Mechanicsville. A first-time candidate, his top goal is criminal justice reform.
"We're wasting billions of dollars on a criminal justice system that arrests 40,000 Virginians each year for drug crimes. The majority of those are for marijuana, which is something that's legal in most other states," he said.
Hyra says he would cut regulations that burden businesses, such as the requirement that bars sell forty percent food.
Like Democrats, Hyra is pro-choice on abortion. But like Republicans, he supports gun rights.
Even though he has only received about 3 percent of voter support in recent polls, Hyra says it's important for him to be in the race.
"I think it's very important to give a voice to people who are disenchanted with the other two parties," said Hyra.
Hyra's team says he'll make an announcement tomorrow that he hopes will alter the race for governor.
Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.
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