For those of us who follow Virginia politics, 2009 has been a year of Republican demagoguery, fear-mongering and partisan bickering that has contributed substantially to the failure to achieve an intellectually honest debate about the issues that actually matter to Virginians, such as transportation, education and economic growth. In the forefront of this non-accomplishment stands Bill Bolling, the lieutenant governor of Virginia who -- despite his pathetic record -- is seeking re-election.
Throughout this campaign cycle, Bolling has done nothing more than ride the coattails of the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Bob McDonnell, and resort to dishonest attacks on his opponent, Jody Wagner. As lieutenant governor, Bolling has missed 63 out of 67 official meetings. The position of lieutenant governor in Virginia is essentially a part-time job with minimal -- albeit important -- responsibilities. But alas, these duties don't seem to be worth Bolling's time or effort.
My question is: What are Virginians paying him for?
What Virginia needs is strong leadership that can put the economy back on track and create jobs with good wages and good benefits. For more than 25 years, Wagner has called Virginia home -- raising four children, building a small family business, becoming active in her local community and serving as a member of the Warner-Kaine team that put Virginia back on track after the Gilmore years and led to the Commonwealth being named the "Best Managed State" twice, the "Best State for Business" and the "Best State to Raise a Child."
As the Treasurer of Virginia, Wagner worked side-by-side with Gov. Mark Warner to close the budget deficit and make historic investments in public education. Likewise, as the secretary of finance under Gov. Tim Kaine, Wagner helped keep Virginia moving forward, maintaining Virginia's Triple-A bond rating while dedicating new resources to education and job training.
As lieutenant governor, Wagner's top priority will be to create new jobs and grow the economy. That means positioning Virginia as a leader in the industries of the future, such as renewable energy programs and biotechnology. Because of her commitment to clean energy and livable communities, the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters recently endorsed Wagner for Lieutenant Governor. Bolling, on the other hand, has no idea how to move forward to a green economy. Rather, he supports Bush's discredited "drill, baby, drill" policies.
In order to improve Virginia's economy and expand its workforce, Wagner thinks we must continue to improve public education by increasing high school graduation rates, expanding access to pre-K and community college and emphasizing career-track education that will put students on a path to a successful future.
She will build off her experience as a member of the Virginia Public School Authority and the Commonwealth of Virginia Joint Subcommittee on Science, Math and Technology Education to bolster education and make it more affordable for struggling families.
Unlike Bolling, who wants to take money away from education to pay for transportation problems, Wagner will work across party lines to find agreeable, common-sense solutions to fix the transportation dilemma once and for all. She will help lead an effective, bipartisan effort to promote efficient public transportation, with an emphasis on light rail and smart planning. In doing so, Wagner will help remedy traffic congestion and will encourage mixed growth development that allows Virginians to live and work in the same community.
With the Nov. 3 election less than a month away, we cannot afford to fall into the trap of ignoring the down ticket and only paying attention to the gubernatorial race, nor can we afford to ignore the short-sighted and ill-conceived Bolling "plans" that will set Virginia back rather than move it forward.
What Virginia does not need is another wingnut politician who offers no real solutions to the problems that actually matter to Virginians. As lieutenant governor, Wagner will work tirelessly to create jobs, improve education and transportation and build a better future.