Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cynthia Neff Answers Questions During Live Blog at NDP

Cynthia Neff participated in a live blog earlier today at the New Dominion Project. For those of you who don't know, Neff is running for the House of Delegates from the 58th District which is in the Charlottesville area. She answered a large number of questions on a variety of topics so I highly recommend checking out the full discussion, but I did want to highlight the answers that she gave to the questions that I asked. My first question had to deal with the fact that there are a lot of students who, for whatever reason, simply don't go on to college. I therefore wanted to know what Neff thought could be done to help prepare high school graduates for the 21st century job market.
My Question: 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?

Cynthia Neff's Answer: 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.
As I've talked to leaders throughout Virginia I am constantly hearing about how the community college system could be a very productive way to prepare people for the 21st Century job market. This has especially been the case in some of the more rural communities in Virginia and those who have been facing tough economic times such as Danville. A few months ago I toured the campus of the Danville Community College as part of a small group there to learn about a program in which students would receive job training in an accelerated program at DCC and, upon graduation, would be guaranteed an interview at some of the local businesses. This program gave people the opportunity to get ahead and provided local businesses with an educated workforce. The program has been very successful and serves as a great example of why Cynthia's correct that we must support our community college system.

Since House of Delegate candidates are on the ground knocking on doors and talking to potential constituents, they often times have a good idea about what is important to the local community. I therefore thought Neff would be a good person to ask about what's important to people in the people in the Charlottesville area.
My Question: 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?

Cynthia Neff's answer: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.
What I think is important here is that people aren't saying they don't want the government to help people out, they are saying that they don't like it when our elected officials bicker about "small issues." With the Republican leadership in the House of Delegates spending so much time on "gotcha" tactics instead of the real issues it's not surprising that people are frustrated with what's going on. Even when Congress is finally discussing important issues like health care reform, we see so many Republicans spreading misinformation about socialized medicine and death panels. I'm therefore very pleased to see that Cynthia Neff seems prepared to stand up to these career politicians and work to "solve some problems."

Specifically focusing in on the partisanship that has prevented the House of Delegates from addressing some of the important issues, I wanted to know what Cynthia would do to help address that issue.
My Question: 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.

Cynthia Neff's answer: 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.
Neff's answer to this question really shows something important -- she's already thinking in terms of immediate steps to get things heading in the right direction and has some long term issues she'd like to see addressed. In other words, she isn't just trying to score some quick political points but has ideas that could truly help Virginia in the long term. Contrast that to some of the political "gotcha" games that the career politicians in the Republican Party are playing and I think you have a prime example of why people should vote for Cynthia Neff on November 3.

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