5th District Candidates on the Issues: Part One - The Economy
With Election Day only a week away, we're bringing you a look at what your 5th District candidates for United States Congress say they would do to improve the economy.
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - With Election Day only a week away, we're bringing you a look at what your 5th District candidates for United States Congress say they would do to improve the economy. This is the first part in an election series, where we focus on the issues and each candidate answers for their record.
Both candidates say that creating jobs is one of their top priorities for the 5th District. While they say they disagree with each other, their positions are actually a lot more similar than you might think. In reality, both Dittmar and Garrett support similar, moderate positions on policies dealing with government regulation and foreign trade deals.
Democrat Jane Dittmar says her plan to create jobs starts with human capital. She says she advocates strong, accessible, and affordable training programs, taking advantage of federal dollars while also using local best practices.
"So we'll take advantage of our assets like community colleges and other workforce development programs, but we need to know what our employers need as well, so that we have jobs waiting at the end of training," she stated.
Dittmar says those businesses also need new technological infrastructure.
"Businesses can't expand unless they have accessible, affordable internet. And also businesses will not relocate to an area that doesn't have it," she said.
Republican Tom Garrett says easing the regulatory burden on businesses will make the economy healthier.
“Job creators use revenues to grow their businesses and create more jobs and so absolutely that regulatory burden is the number one item mentioned to us when we speak to job creators across the district," he stated.
“Small business is currently, in my mind, over-regulated because we're using a one-size fits all for regulation, meaning our largest corporations and smallest businesses have to comply with some of the same regulations," she said.
Garrett is particularly concerned about foreign trade deals hurting workers in the 5th District.
“These trade deals create circumstances where American companies are put at a competitive disadvantage. So if you want to create jobs here, we need to understand that the preeminent responsibility of the United States government is to the United States! The deals should be beneficial to us," he stated.
Instead of large-scale deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), he advocates individualized deals.
“We shouldn't negotiate one massive trade deal, we should negotiate trade deals along subsets of lines, and where foreign nations agree to create a modicum of safety for their workers," he said.
Dittmar answered a question on how she will protect American workers while also promoting trade deals.
“Well we have to first learn from NAFTA and what happened when we really hemorrhage our manufacturing sector after signing that agreement. We can have trade agreements, provided we start first with how we're going to protect American workers," she said.
Garrett is keen on mentioning the Deschutes Brewery in the 5th District debates. Back in 2015, Albemarle County lost out on a chance to be the East Coast location for the Oregon-based brewery. At the time, Dittmar was chair of the county's board of supervisors and Garrett frequently blames her.
“The way you grow the economy is by finding ways to get to yes we want your jobs. How can we help you bring those jobs here, bring that tax revenue here, instead of excuses to say no," he said.
Garret says he would have done it differently if he were in Dittmar's seat on the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.
“So you proactively move to rezone that land, and then you offer tax incentives by way of not charging taxes over a period of time," he stated.
Dittmar says Roanoke simply had better existing infrastructure and was able to offer more incentives than Albemarle County.
“Roanoke put together an incredible financial package including land that they owned, and hook up and transition lines - all the things that cost money here in Albemarle," she stated.
Thursday on NBC29 HD News at 6, we'll bring you part two of this series, with Dittmar and Garrett focusing on national security. We asked both candidates how they'll keep Americans safe at home, and what role they believe the United States should play abroad.