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This is the third in a series of conversations with the 2020 Fifth district congressional candidates. Each week, the Rappahannock News will give Republican Bob Good and Democrat Cameron Webb an opportunity to present their views on a single issue. In Part III, Webb and Good share their approaches to the concerns of rural voters such as broadband, education, the environment and more. Webb accepted our offer for a phone interview. Good did not accept our offer for an interview and did not respond to written questions. Rappahannock News consolidated Good’s responses to questions from the Senior Statesmen of Virginia debate on Sept. 9, 2020.


On Energy Policy

Webb:

Energy policy is about creating economic opportunity and helping our country save money while transitioning to renewable energy sources. A lot of it has to do with addressing the fossil fuel economy. The price of renewables and clean energy has actually become cheaper than fossil fuel technologies. So we must stop, as Congress, propping up the fossil fuel industry because it is preventing the free market from giving us a chance to really move in a different direction. There are also meaningful reforms we need to do at the Federal Energy Regulation Commission to ensure we are working in a united way to move our country in the direction of creating clean and renewable energy sources. We must also support the development of really creative and innovative energy storage mechanisms. 

Good:

We all want clean air, we all want clean water. But the President’s energy policies are critical for us. You can’t separate energy policy from climate and environmental policy and how we have achieved energy independence where we no longer depend on foreign hostile nations for essential energy and that is critical from an economic standpoint as well as a national security standpoint … I am an all-of-the-above guy, we want to harvest all of our natural resources, harvest all of our energy resources, but even in my time in Campbell County I voted [for] and supported solar farms and solar energy … but we also want to harvest our fossil fuel resources and we don’t want to handicap ourselves with drastic radical environmental policy.


On Rural Jobs

Webb:

My economic agenda is to ensure that everyone has access to economic opportunity, regardless of where they live … I look at it from a two-generational approach. In addition to investing in education and broadband, we must create opportunities for adults already in the workforce through workforce development opportunities like job training programs or vocational opportunities, which folks can engage in even long after they finish school.

In terms of rural jobs, we cannot overlook the impact that COVID-19 has had … I support legislation like the CARES Act, which was a bipartisan bill to get dollars into people’s pockets, whether it was the Payroll Protection Program or unemployment insurance that were critical in helping stave off some additional job loss … In contrast, my opponent has been very clear that he wouldn’t have supported the CARES Act even though President Trump and Republicans in Congress supported it. I’m glad to see some jobs coming back but I also recognize that to sustain families as we move forward, it is critical that we continue investing in broadband [and] supporting families, individuals, and small businesses, to sustain the entrepreneurship we will need to continue growing our economy. 

Good:

We’ve got to safely continue to get Americans back to work. I also want to help expand and renew the Trump economy. I don’t want to reverse and go back to the Obama Biden economy. I want to continue to support free market capitalism versus what my opponent and his allies will do with more socialist policies. We need to preserve and expand the Trump tax cuts. Biden has already announced that he and my opponent would raise taxes by $4 billion … We want to continue to support jobs and businesses and job creators, continue to bring manufacturing jobs back home to America and continue to lift millions of Americans out of poverty and off food stamps.


On Rural Broadband Opportunities

Webb:

Expanding rural broadband is essential and will be one of my top priorities as a member of Congress. It starts with making sure we are taking full advantage of the money that is already available for broadband. Congresswoman Spanberger, working with our outgoing Congressman Denver Riggleman and some others, got additional funding approved this way. We also need to support localities in the grant application process. Getting funding for our district requires partnering with all of our localities, letting them know when there are opportunities available and how we can help usher [them] through that process so they can have a strong shot at getting those dollars. In Congress, it’s essential to serve in that role of connecting people with the funding that is available and then helping to usher them through the process. My detail-oriented understanding of policy and background in advocacy would both help me as a champion for funding for our district and broadband in Congress.

Good:

I’m proud of my record on [broadband] in Campbell County. [While on the Board of Supervisors] I helped one of the neighborhoods — it was a more affluent neighborhood where the individuals had the ability to come together with a private provider — to bring broadband to their neighborhood where they didn’t have it. … While I’m a limited government guy and a low taxes guy and a low spending guy … a deficit hawk, if you will, there’s things that only government can do and government should do and investing in rural infrastructure, investing in infrastructure generally, is one of those. We need a public option. The pandemic has illustrated how important broadband is. It’s important for telemedicine, it’s important for learning, it’s essential for commerce in today’s world, so we know it’s essential. [President Trump’s] $50 billion rural infrastructure program prioritizes broadband … without mandates … I’m pleased that that’s a priority here in Virginia in our state leadership and it would also be a priority for me on the federal level.


On Rural Education

Webb:

While my opponent wants to eliminate the department of education altogether and cut funding to schools while serving as supervisor, I think those policy decisions are short-sighted and dramatically undercut our ability to succeed here in the Fifth. By supporting public schools, we’re invested in every single kid and strengthening our economy in the process. Rural schools, in particular, face a number of challenges that harm students’ pathways for success, from lower teacher pay to struggles as a result of lacking broadband to less expansive academic program offerings. 

Poor educational options also have a downward impact on attracting businesses because businesses don’t come to places that don’t have good schools. So this is all cyclical and we’re seeing how the lack of investment in our public schools is directly tied to the lack of job availability in those same communities. It’s essential that we invest in our public schools … [and] that comes with some support from the federal government in the form of technical assistance, in the form of grants, and in the form of ensuring rural equity because that’s a big piece of what’s missing in our school conversation.

Good:

Folks throughout the district mostly want the same things. They want to provide a better life for their children than they had … they want good education. They want choice for their kids, they want options and for their kids to be prepared for life after school. 

Bob Good’s campaign platform also states that Good supports “the Tebow Law, permitting homeschooled children to participate in athletics and extracurricular activities.”


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