The following statements were submitted to the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County. All statements are directly from the candidate, and not edited by the League.
The League of Women Voters never supports or opposes candidates or political parties. Virginia House of Delegates 12th District candidates Joseph Yost (R)(incumbent) and Chris Hurst (D) were asked about redistricting, voter access and their top legislative priorities. The 12th District covers the City of Radford, Giles County and parts of Montgomery County.
What are your legislative priorities?
Hurst: Restoring Education Funding: The NRV, since 2010, has lost over 2 million dollars per year in state funding. I want to change the funding formulas so that rural schools get their fair share and we restore funding to at least pre- recession levels. Healthcare: We need to expand Medicaid. Doing so would ensure thousands in the New River Valley and Southwest Virginia, provide millions in new spending, and create over 200 jobs right here in the 12th House District.
Yost: Over the past 6 years, I have championed efforts to improve and reform our mental health system in the Commonwealth and provide much needed resources for our school systems. Whether securing money for children’s psychiatric care and crisis response, reforming our SOLs or advocating for teacher pay increases, these have been my two highest priorities and if re-elected, they will continue to be. Additionally, as a lifelong resident of the New River Valley and the 12th District, I want my daughter to grow up with the same advantages
I had: excellent schools both at the k-12 level and university level, a beautiful environment and boundless opportunities. That’s why I’m running and that’s what I’ll support.
What changes in Virginia’s method of drawing electoral district lines (redistricting) would you support?
Hurst: I fully support and will fight to ensure that a non-partisan commission draws Virginia’s legislative districts. Voters should pick their representatives, not the other way around.
Yost: I have previously supported and continue to support initiatives that promote a fairer redistricting process. I have co-sponsored measures that would have put a referendum on the November ballot to ask Virginia voters if they would prefer an independent commission to draw district lines in the Commonwealth. I am also supportive of reforms that look at establishing an independent commission and amending the Code to require the use of objective, non-partisan criteria during the redistricting process.
How would you ensure voting access to all qualified Virginians?
Hurst: Virginia lags behind other states in access to the ballot box. I’m in favor of automatic, same-day registration, no excuse absentee voting, and vote by mail to ensure that every Virginian’s constitutional right to vote is upheld. We also need to reinstate the Voting Rights Act to continue to combat all types of voter fraud, misinformation, and discrimination.
Yost: Voting is one of the easiest things one can do to participate in a democracy but it should also be convenient. During my time in the House, I have sponsored or cosponsored efforts to expand absentee voting as well as allow for a process to create an on-line voter registration system so that eligible voters can register from home. Additionally, I have supported efforts to streamline our restorations of rights process for individuals convicted of felonies so they can more quickly be participating citizens again in the democratic process.
The election is Tuesday, Nov. 7. Polls are open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Delegates serve two-year terms.
Montgomery County voters with questions can contact the Registrar’s office (755 Roanoke St., Christiansburg) 382-5741 or visit www.montgomerycountyva.gov.
Radford voters can contact the Registrar’s office at (619 2nd St.) 731-3639 or visit www.radfordva.gov/252/Director-of-Elections.