By Callie Hietala
Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin will have a busy first day in office if he wins the November election.
During a recent visit to Uptown Farmers’ Market in Martinsville, he shared his vision for Virginia with a crowd of several hundred supporters, including members of the Henry County Board of Supervisors, Martinsville City Council, school board and supervisor candidates, and other local leaders.
“On day one, we’re going to work for you,” Youngkin said and shared some of the highlights of his Day One Gameplan.
A Youngkin administration would eliminate the grocery tax, suspend an increase in the gas tax for one year, and “stand up for law enforcement, because they stand up for us,” Youngkin said, and added he will cut taxes for Virginians, saving $1,400 for every family of four during his first year in office.
“What Virginians and Americans have seen is the truth of the progressive Democratic Party,” Youngkin said. “We watched it come out last week when (Democratic nominee) Terry McAuliffe said parents have no role in their kids’ education,” referring to a comment by McAuliffe during the most recent gubernatorial debate. “He said he wants government, bureaucrats, politicians, to raise our children.”
“This is no longer a campaign,” Youngkin said, “it is a movement, and it’s a movement lead by parents” who do not want the government to stand between them and their children.
“On day one, we’re going to work for our kids,” he said. “We’re going to reestablish expectations of excellence in our schools. Our schools are failing our children.”
During McAuliffe’s first term in office, Youngkin said 88 schools failed to earn accreditation. Virginia ranks 50th in the nation when it comes to standards for reading and math.
“It’s just flat wrong and as a result, our children are performing worse and worse.” Youngkin said, and added that 55 percent of white children, 70 percent of Latino children, and 80 percent of Black children in Virginia cannot pass an eighth-grade math equivalency test. “This is the legacy that Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam have left us.”
“Day one,” Youngkin said, “our schools are going to be open five days a week with in-classroom education, and there will be no masks.”
Under his leadership, Youngkin said teacher salaries would increase, special education would be funded, and “the most aggressive charter school program ever seen in order to give parents a choice” launched. Virginia currently has eight charter schools, he said. North Carolina has 190 and Maryland has 140. “On day one, we’re going to launch 20, and that is just a down payment.”
Youngkin’s declaration that the state government would ban critical race theory in Virginia schools drew cheers from the crowd.
“Curriculum matters,” he said, “and what we’ve watched happen in our curriculum is, all of a sudden, our children are being told that everything must be viewed through a lens of race . . . we will teach all history.”
The economy also occupies a prominent position on Youngkin’s Day One agenda.
Though CNBC recently ranked Virginia the best place to do business, “our economy is stalled,” he said, adding that he would cut 25 percent of “job-killing regulations that have been piled on businesses” and provide a 12-month tax holiday for small businesses so they can invest in growth and employees on his first day in office.
“Everything that Terry McAuliffe stands for is the absolute antithesis of what we all know truth to be. He wants to force everybody to join the union, he wants to mandate it so that a portion of every Virginia worker’s paycheck must go to the union,” said Youngkin, adding that he wants to protect the right-to-work status in Virginia. “If we lose our right to work, it’s going to cost Virginia $11 billion in investment and 40,000 jobs.”
“(McAuliffe) wants to raise your taxes yet again. He talks about his hundred pages of policy. It got scored and it’s going to cost Virginia families $16 million dollars,” Youngkin said. “For every Virginia family, that’s going to cost $5,400.”
Additionally, “they overtaxed us by $2.6 billion in the middle of a pandemic and they’re going to do it again this year,” he said.
Youngkin said that he plans to create 400,000 jobs in four years and bring 10,000 new companies to the Commonwealth. He said a trained workforce would be needed to supply labor for the robust economy he plans to build, and that will involve partnerships with community colleges. Additionally, he said, “we have to connect Virginia.”
One of the key enablers in that plan is having low-cost, high-speed internet access across the state. “We’re going to light up Virginia, we’re going to turn on our job machine,” he said. “You’re going to watch Virginia grow like you have never seen and it’s going to happen right here in Martinsville too.
Eric Phillips, a candidate for the Iriswood District seat on the Henry County Board of Supervisors, 9th District House candidate Wren Williams, Dels. Danny Marshall, R-Danville, and Les Adams, R-Pittsylvania County, State Sens. Bill Stanley, R- Moneta, and Amanda Chase, R-Midlothian, addressed the crowd before Youngkin’s arrival.
“The single most important thing that we can do to protect election integrity in Virginia is to get Glenn Youngkin elected as our next governor,” said Chase, who supports Youngkin after losing her bid to be the Republican nominee in May.
Chase described Youngkin as both a homegrown Virginian and a political outsider.
“He’s pro-God, he’s pro-country, he’s pro-gun,” she said. “Glenn Youngkin is the real deal.”
Campaign staff gathered supporters together before Youngkin arrived and in advance of his live interview with Fox News, as volunteers distributed hand-made signs with slogans highlighting the campaign’s current emphasis on education: “teach history and civics, not CRT (Critical Race Theory),” “parents matter,” and “my child’s education needs my input.”