Fourth district candidate seeks to prioritize constituents

Published 12:16 pm Saturday, August 2, 2014

CHESTER—Believing that he can do a better job than current 4th district Congressional representative Randy Forbes, Elliot Fausz, a Democrat from Chester, decided to throw his hat into the ring after he learned that Forbes was going unchallenged again.

Fausz came to Franklin on Wednesday and took time out to talk with The Tidewater News about why he would be better for the district.

“One of the issues that I have noticed with Congressman Forbes is that he is unreachable,” he said. “Only a select few can get in contact with him. His constituent services are terrible, and he has not held a town hall meeting since 2012.

“We need a better representative in Congress to truly represent the people. In my opinion, his voting record shows that he only represents a small minority of voters in the fourth district.”

One example Fausz gave was the Affordable Care Act, in that Forbes has voted to repeal it 54 times.

“A lot of people in the district benefit from it,” he said. “It’s not perfect, and it needs to be fixed, but repealing it would take away a lot of benefits that people in the district have been able to use.”

Another problem Fausz cited was Forbes’ focus on defense when it comes to job creation.

“Having defense-related jobs is great, but we need to create a more dynamic economy,” he said.

As an example on how defense can sour he talked about Ft. Lee, which had been built up and aided in also expanding the community. Unfortunately, the federal government had to cut funds to the base, which he said took away about $340 million from the economy.

“He only focuses on defense,” Fausz said. “You need to focus on small business too. Small businesses have a lot of hoops they have to jump through, and we need to get rid of that and make it easier. You also have to invest in infrastructure, especially with the expansion of the Panama Canal. Virginia’s port can capitalize on the increased volume of goods.”

As far as improving the business community of Virginia, Fausz said the 4th district ought to focus on the technology industry.

“We are becoming a tech-based society and economy, and we have little pockets here with advanced manufacturing,” he said. “We need to nurture these, and encourage more development with tax incentives. We need to bring international companies into the area.

“These would be strong, sustainable jobs that pay well and create economic opportunities for others to service the workforce there. A military base does that, but the jobs are not sustainable.”

Though military is definitely not to be ignored, Fausz said.

“Our part of Virginia is strategically located, and I would continue to fight to keep defense here,” he said. “It would just not be the only thing I focused on.”

Fausz said in reference to Rt. 460, that Virginia should have had its act together 20 years ago when talks started about the expansion of the canal.

“We need a comprehensive infrastructure plan, so that we know where to commit our dollars over the next 20, 30 or 50 years,” he said. “If we had a comprehensive plan for the port and truck flow, we wouldn’t be scrambling now.”

Fausz added that the state has fumbled handling Rt. 460, and he challenged the federal government to make sure the money is still available for a highway project whenever it comes together.

Some other issues that Fausz said he would focus on are the environment, women’s health care rights and student loans and college tuition.

“I’m very passionate about climate change,” he said. “We need to be moving forward with that, but we have to do it with compromise. We can’t just put an axe to fossil fuels right now like Democrats want to do. But we need a plan to eventually get rid of them, or it is going to be tough one day.”

He said the government is looking to profit $70 billion off of student loans, and he doesn’t think that’s a source where the government should be getting its money.

Women should also have access over reproductive care without interference from an employer or the government, Fausz said, and being female should also not be viewed as a preexisting condition as far as ratcheting up the costs.

Fausz, 28, is the business manager of The Village News in Chester, where his father is the managing editor. He did his undergraduate work at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he majored in political science. He also attended VCU and received his MBA there.

He said the paper would not give him an advantage. During the election season, Fausz said the paper steers away from talking politics, especially when it comes to letters to the editor.

One thing they might do, he said, is a candidate forum. They typically ask local and state representatives who get 300 words on different questions. The newspaper tried to invite federal candidates in 2008, but neither Forbes nor Andrea Miller responded.

On top of wanting to better represent people, another motivating factor is the obstructionism going on in Congress.

“I am sick and tired of the obstructionism. I think it is just petty politics happening,” he said. “I don’t want to play those games. I want to get it done.

“For example, with health care, the answers were clearly there on the table, but neither side would bend, so we got force fed what we have today. I’m willing to compromise Democratic ideology to get the job done.”

He also said that if you don’t like how he is voting you can call him up.

“If you call me up and say, ‘Elliot, what is going on, man. You are voting down the line with Democrats, giving them what they want. Why?’ Then I will give you the answer. And if you don’t like it, then vote me out, but you would have the answer.

“With Forbes, you can email him or call him, but you get a generic response from the interns.”

Fausz said he thinks he can do better than Forbes in representing the people, and it’s all in a matter of priority.

“I understand there are schedules, caucus meetings, committees and long hours, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it home and hold a town hall. You can,” he said. “He has choices throughout his day. I’ve been up there to visit him. He had the choice that he could meet me, or he could meet with his fundraisers. That’s important and it helps him get reelected, but it is his choice. I would always choose to meet with the people to understand what their needs are.”

At the end of the day, he thinks he is the better choice.

“I have the courage to make tough decisions because I’m not worried about being reelected,” Fausz said. “I’m not worried about making a career in Washington.

“I want to help the people, and if I don’t get the special interest money because I don’t play ball, then so be it.”