Jerry Cantrell wants to get more done ‘for the people’

Published 11:43 am Friday, June 9, 2017

[Editor’s note: The Tidewater News recently invited each of the five candidates running for delegate for the 64th district to discuss their reasons for seeking the office. Today, the three Democrats will be featured. On Sunday, the two Republicans.]

Jerry Cantrell of Whaleyville in Suffolk, one of three candidates running as a Democrat, is a college professor who has taught political science aboard naval ships for Central Texas College for 18 years. He said his main campaign goals are to bring civility back to politics and get more done “for the people.”

Specifically, Cantrell hopes to advocate in Richmond for higher salaries for public school teachers and suggested giving them a 5 percent raise across the board rather than linking raises to the Commonwealth’s economy. To find the money to accomplish this, he said it would be necessary to heavily re-examine the General Assembly’s budget and re-evaluate priorities.

“In the area I live in Suffolk, they [teachers] aren’t paid adequately,” Cantrell said. “I went to several city council meetings. They don’t have a living wage given the rising cost of healthcare.”

In addition to allocating more funds for public education, he would also like to see funds redirected from the construction of more superhighways in urban areas to investments in mass transit, rural areas, and social services.

“The more superhighways you build, the more development, and eventually you’ll have bumper-to-bumper traffic like Los Angeles,” Cantrell said.

As far as investing in rural areas to spur economic development, he suggested that the county level governments could take the lead, and that the Commonwealth could assist with greater support for local enterprise zones and business incubators.

“On the other side of Franklin, you have an underutilized mall, the Airway Center, adjacent to an airfield, which I’m told by the owner used to be a highly active member of the community,” Cantrell said.

“The owner, who lives in Florida, is mostly using whatever income he gets just to pay the bills; he’s getting nothing out of that. You could put starter programs into that.”

Cantrell also suggested using this region’s more rural industries, such as the soybean production toward his part of Suffolk, to spur other industries, such as nanotechnology, which depends on carbon-based products like soybeans and wood pulp.

“You could then link this technology to another tech, and another tech; you could use it for bio-diesel, it’s all about the linkage, so instead of a silicon valley, you could have a nanotech valley,” he added.

The public’s reaction to Cantrell’s campaign and ideas, he said, has been for the most part, favorable, and that he’s had very few negative discussions when approaching people. He has received a few endorsements and donations.

On a final note, he added that he felt gerrymandering was a problem, but that who ultimately wins an election goes deeper than that.

“You still have to have leadership on the job,” he said. “I think gerrymandering is a problem, but right now you need leaders who are knowledgeable, who are principal-based and really do care about people.”

To learn more, visit his website at