Schultz has eyes on 27th Senate seat
Story by Chris Graham
Republicans have had a tight grip on legislative seats in the Shenandoah Valley in recent years – but Karen Schultz isn’t focused on the political past.
“We are at a crossroads in Virginia. We can move in the direction of a moderate, commonsense government, or we can take the path of partisan, do-nothing rhetoric. I am looking forward to being the state senator and working with everyone in a bipartisan, moderate approach, and dealing with the issues that are affecting Virginians,” the 27th Senate District Democrat said in an interview on “The Augusta Free Press Show” this week.
Schultz, a professor at Shenandoah University and former chair of the Winchester School Board, is the Democratic Party nominee in the 27th – and she will square off with Republican nominee Jill Holtzman Vogel in the November general elections.
Republican Russ Potts has held the 27th Senate seat since 1992 – but Potts wasn’t at all your typical Republican. Even accounting for his independent run for governor in 2005, Potts made his reputation in his years in the Virginia Senate by demonstrating a willingness to work across the aisle with Democrats in the General Assembly and in the administrations of governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.
“Sen. Potts has set an example of how important it is to listen to all people – and to bring that moderate approach in a commonsense way, doing research to make decisions,” Schultz said. “I think that we in this district need to work together as Virginians – and to work forward gathering ideas and getting information from everyone in the district and across Virginia to see what’s best to do.”
She has been outspoken on the issue of a proposal from Dominion Virginia Power to build a new power line in Northern Virginia that the power company has said is essential to meet increased demand in the region.
“I think the case has not been proven that these lines need to go through our area,” Schultz said. “We have beautiful areas, very historic areas in our state – and certainly we must protect those areas, and we must make sure that anything that would threaten our beautiful landscapes, our viewsteads, our historic areas. This has to be studied, and we have to be sure that there’s a reason for this to occur.”
Schultz has also been outspoken on proposals from her opponent to have the state and localities in the 27th deal more directly with illegal immigration.
“Illegal immigration is an issue in our community – and it is clear that the federal government has failed to do its job to secure our borders. We must crack down on businesses that are knowingly hiring illegal aliens. And after speaking with law-enforcement officials in our community, the message is clear – the sheriff’s departments don’t have the time or the resources to clean up the mess that the federal government has created. And I want to be very clear about this – keeping our communities safe is our number-one priority. But turning to our local law enforcement and making them immigration officials, we divert valuable time and scarce resources away from protecting our community,” Schultz said.
“The other issue is that local authorities would only be able to check immigration status if the person in question happens to be detained for another crime. This is a completely inefficient way to find and deport illegal aliens,” Schultz said.
“It is important that we crack down on employers – to do the most to combat illegal immigration,” Schultz said.
And Schultz has joined the chorus of critics of the new abusive-driver fees that the General Assembly and Gov. Tim Kaine agreed upon earlier this year.
“This is an issue – these abusive-driver fees – that is of great concern,” Schultz said. “Although we have to find a sustainable revenue source to maintain road safety needs, the abusive-driver fee is the absolute wrong approach. The fees were designed to raise revenue – not to provide safer roads. It’s not a logical statement to Virginians that fixing our roads depends on habitual and criminal traffic-safety violations.
“This bill was a Republican piece of legislation that the Democratic minority was shut out of in Richmond. There was no bipartisan conversation – contrary to what my opponent has said, this was not a bipartisan mistake,” Schultz said.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.