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Cynthia Neff Liveblog--Thursday at 1 PM.

by: Aimee Fausser

Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 04:37:51 PM EDT

Cynthia Neff, candidate for Delegate in the 58th district (against Rob Bell) will be liveblogging here with us today (Thursday) at 1 PM.

Leave any questions you might have below!

Aimee Fausser :: Cynthia Neff Liveblog--Thursday at 1 PM.
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Question for Cynthia
Since labors unions are being attacked left and right by the Republicans this election cycles what are you views on the issue?  Do you believe that unions have a productive place in such a strict right to work state like Virginia?  Also, do you support collective bargaining rights for public safety employees?  

Labor Unions
Daniel, Thanks for your question.  As many of you probably know, I worked at IBM for 25 years, which is a non-union shop.  I've always viewed unions as a product of failed management - if people are treated fairly, they won't feel the need to unionize.  I have seen the good that unions can do (I was a member of the Postal Workers Union for a time), and some of their drawbacks as well, but they serve an important role when employees are being mistreated.  I do support Virginia's status as a right-to-work state, and it would be disingenuous for me to say that I would support any efforts to weaken that position.

[ Parent ]
Public Safety
Currently, Deputy Sheriff's are not covered under the Law Enforcement Officer's Procedural Guarantee Act even though in many jurisdictions they are the sole law enforcement authority.  Do you support the inclusion of deputy sheriff's into the Procedural Guarantee Act and would you be willing to co-sponsor legislation that has been introduced by Del. David Possion to address this if he asked you for support?

Deputy Sheriffs
 I must admit, this isn't an issue I know a whole lot about.  From the research that I've been able to do for this question, though, I don't see why Deputy Sheriffs should be treated differently from any other law enforcement officer.  These people put themselves in harm's way for our safety, and we should extend the full rights of law enforcement personell to them.  Clearly the Law Enforcement Officer's Procedural Gurantee Act should be expanded!

[ Parent ]
What would you do first?
What is your top priority if you get elected to office in November?  

Top Priority
That's a tricky one.  There's so much to be done!  I think that our first order of business has to be getting Virginia's books in order.  Mark Warner had the Governor's Commission on Efficiency and Effectiveness done in 2003, and the results of that survey have languished in the legislature ever since.  As a businesswoman, hearing Creigh Deeds promise to institute audits in the Commonwealth's government shocked me.  How are we not doing that already?  I've talked a lot on the campaign about running the government more like a business and less like a bureaucracy, and cutting out the inefficiencies and waste is the logical first step toward that goal.  

[ Parent ]
How can we find a way to maintain the quality of our school staff in the economic downturn when so many teachers are already forced by economic concerns to live further and further away from their places of work?

We need to make sure that we're paying teachers what they're worth.  It's incomprehensible to me why Virginia doesn't even pay teachers the national average, when everyone understands that the number one factor in an excellent education is having a great teacher.  If Virginia continues to lag behind in teacher pay, we will continue to lose our best and brightest educators to states that have the political will to pay them correctly.  

[ Parent ]
Partisanship in the House
Anyone who's followed Virginia politics recently knows that the House of Delegates has been stuck in partisan gridlock for the last few years. This obviously has prevented a lot of meaningful legislation from being passed. What would you bring to the table that would help to ease that partisanship and could allow some of the key issues in your campaign platform to be addressed.

Partisanship in the House
When I was at IBM, I was often surrounded by people with vastly different points of view from my own.  Working with people I disagree with isn't new to me.  The key is sitting down and hammering out compromises and staying practical and focused on solving problems.

In the long term, there are three things that are crucial: redistricting reform, campaign finance reform, and term limits.  Career politicians sitting on huge war chests in completely safe districts don't have any incentive to compromise and work across the aisle.

[ Parent ]
Term limits?
Are you going on record supporting term limits? How many terms should a delegate be limited to--and if the voters of a district want to re-elect a delegate, why should they be barred from doing so?

[ Parent ]
Term limits
I am.  I don't have a firm number of terms in mind at the moment (three or four probably), but I do support term limits.  At heart, the issue is this: we have a citizen legislature.  It's not meant to be a career.  It's meant for citizen activists to go for a time and represent their communities, then go home.

[ Parent ]
Most important issue
As you've been talking to potential constituents, is there any topic that has emerged as the most important issue to your constituents? What would you do in the House of Delegates to address the issue?

Important Issue
 One of the things that people talk about to me the most is the ineffectiveness of government.  Instead of getting together and hammering out a solution to transportation or other big issues, they spend months talking about whether we can take guns into bars.  There's too much emphasis on small issues at the expense of the really important ones.  They're "majoring in the minor", if you will.

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I do not hold my opinions to myself.  I won't go to Richmond, sit back and watch the inactivity get worse.  I'm not running for Delegate to start a career - I've had one of those, and a good one.  I just want to help solve some problems.

[ Parent ]
While a higher education is something that is considered a pre-requisite for many career, college isn't for everyone. What, if anything, do you think should be done to make sure that a person who has graduated from high school in Virginia has the skills necessary to enter the 21st century job market as a valuable member of the workforce?

We need to have good choices for all kids.  Not everyone will go to college, but everyone needs to be able to build good skills.  My education plan has an expansion of dual-track and vocational programs, which I hope will help.  I think that one of the problems with our primary school education system right now is that the United States is continually falling behind other countries in math and science.  We also need to support our community college system if we want to have the high quality workforce that employers look for when opening businesses.

[ Parent ]
New Energy Economy
What will you do as a Delegate to make Virginia a leader in the new energy economy?

Energy plan
has part of your vision for energy, do you support more coal mining and offshore oil drilling despite the negative environmental effects?

[ Parent ]
Energy Ecomonmy
Ashleigh, this is a great question.  Places like Silicon Valley and the North Carolina Research Triangle don't happen by accident.  They happened because the people in those areas made a concentrated effort to draw those kinds of industries.  As it currently stands, what incentive is there for employers in the New Energy Economy to locate in Virginia?  Our current energy law was written by Dominion, for Dominion.  Until we demonstrate our commitment to renewable energy and have a mandatory renewable energy portfolio, we will keep losing Green Jobs to other states.

[ Parent ]
Standards of Learning
What would you do to improve the Standards of Learning and insure that teachers are teaching creativity and ingenuity instead of teaching to the test?

We need to let teachers teach.  I don't think there's anything wrong with holding people accountable, and I'm not against testing per se, but the current model of No Child Left Behind is punitive in nature, and I think that's the main problem.  The SOLs as they currently stand are a poor measure - we need to expand the testing to include writing, oral presentations, working in groups.  These are the things that tell us how prepared they are for college and careers.

[ Parent ]
Gay Marriage
there has been a recent strings of legalizations of gay marriage.  What is your stance on gay marriage?

Gay Marriage
I support gay marriage.  I've lived in many parts of the country and the world, and when two people come together to try and make a family, I don't see anything wrong with that.  I was fortunate to work for a company that truly embraced diversity and was a leader in inclusion. Everything works better when people can be their whole selves and reach their potential.  I learned a long time ago that no one chooses to be gay, and I think gay person's love is as valuable as anybody else's.  Gay marriage is simply about equality!

[ Parent ]
How do you feel your background in business will serve you (and Virginia) while in office?

Business Background
 I like lawyers, and I've worked with a lot of them.  But lawyers work in a system where it's all about making your argument, and a lot of times a continuance is a victory for them.  In the business world, putting off decisions just means you haven't gotten anything done.

Also, working in the business world like I did teaches you to be practical.  I focus on what is in front of me, and what can be achieved.  Plus in business you're always held accountable for results, which I believe in.

[ Parent ]
Please comment on the expansion of Northeast Corridor service to Charlottesville and Lynchburg. Is it adequate, and would you support further increases in service?

I'm definitely for the expansion, but would hesitate to call it adequate.  A friend of mine was just complaining the other day that the times are still difficult to schedule around, and anything we can do to make travel easier and put less wear and tear on our roads is worth looking into.  This expansion is definitely a great step and we need to encourage our government and business leaders who went out on a limb to get it done.  Ride the train!!

[ Parent ]
Absentee voting
What are your thoughts on expanding absentee voting?

 I could not be more for this.  In a lot of instances, Virginia seems to go out of its way to make it harder for people to vote.  Other states have no-fault absentee voting, same-day registration, even early voting satellite locations in the weeks leading up to elections.  The government should make it as easy as possible for people to be involved in the system.

[ Parent ]
Red light cameras
What is your stance on red light cameras?

In general, red light cameras strike me as a little too Big Brother-ish.  I also imagine the costs of running the cameras would be quite high.  However, if there are particular intersections that are accident-prone and it would have a big public safety effect, I could see them being useful.  

[ Parent ]
Two-part question. Virginia has deposits of coal and uranium, both controversial sources of energy.

1) What is your stance on expanding coal mining, and is there a such thing as "clean coal"?

2) Efforts are underway to overturn the moratorium on uranium mining. Most of your district lies on land with potential uranium deposits (see here), and Orange County has previously seen active uranium mining leases. What is your stance?

Coal and Uranium
I am fundamentally opposed to expanding coal mining.  Clean coal is a myth propogated by the coal industry, Rob Bell, and other Republicans.  There's a pretty clear connection between Rob Bell's stance on "clean coal" and the fact that he cashed a $20,000 check from the coal industry earlier this year.

I don't support uranium mining in the district.  The idea creeps me out.

You know, I'm not 100% sure what to think of nuclear power.  It seems to work pretty well for people in Western Europe, but I don't know if it would work for us here and I'm not yet convinced it can be done safely enough for me to want to live anywhere near a nuclear power plant.

[ Parent ]
Coal Ash
I can't resist adding this piece that 60 Minutes did last Sunday on coal ash.  This is so not the right way to do thing!

[ Parent ]
Thank You
NDP would like to thank Cynthia for spending the last hour with us answering our questions. For more information, visit her website at

Thanks so much, and we hope to see you soon!

Thank you for your questions, everyone.  There are a lot of issues facing the Commonwealth right now, and I really appreciate everyone's interest in how we find solutions.   We may not always agree, but we should be able to find as much common ground as possible.

If you'd like to ask me anything else, please visit my website,  If there's anything you can do to help the campaign in these final weeks, I would be eternally grateful.

Let's get to work.  

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