We are living in an era of “iSTs” — the most obnoxious, the loudest, the extremists. These people are sucking up all the political air, leaving no room for civil discourse or solutions. We need leaders who aren’t afraid to stand up and do the right thing. Our current delegate is not leading nor representing all the citizens of District 18. His lack of leadership compelled me to run for delegate.
What makes you the best candidate?
Reality is tough, but it’s never stopped me before. I beat out 100,000 people to get a spot on NBC’s “The Voice,” the most popular show on TV. I’m in it to win the delegate seat, not just be a protest vote. I have the skills and experience to keep us rural, get us innovative and grow our community by creating opportunities for all. I know how hard it is to be an entrepreneur in this area. Young people leave and rarely come back. We need to make it worthwhile for our millennial talent to stay in District 18 and to help our baby boomers retire into entrepreneurship.
What ranks as the most important issue facing the 2018 General Assembly and how do you plan to address it?
Education. Are our schools developing beautiful 21st-century minds so they are prepared for the future? They can if we do three things: maximize teacher-student ratios for quality instruction and learning; build strong, respectful partnerships between teachers, parents and students; and provide access to technology for all students, including access to rural broadband at home. We must stop losing our best teachers to our richer neighbors in NoVA. If we fund our schools correctly, pay teachers competitively and provide them with high-quality training, we will keep our talent in District 18.
Please, describe the most difficult challenge you’ve faced in a leadership position and your response to that situation.
I grew up in the music business during the most tumultuous time ever for that industry. Technology displaced a generation of creative professionals like me. It forced me to morph from a performer into a tech-savvy business owner/performer-artist. Learning to pivot, bounce back, fail, try new things are all essential skills necessary to live and lead today. I know how to be a leader and make things happen. Today’s disruptive economy and uncertainties demand that leaders see opportunities among the fog and have the courage to act. I know what it’s like to struggle, I know what it’s like to win. And I know how to make tough decisions while keeping the people of the Piedmont first. That’s why I am your best option for delegate.