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October 15, 2021 · OPINION

Voters have clear choice in 18th District House election

Doug Ward (D) and Michael Webert (R) seek the 18th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.
By Helen Poland

When I vote for our local delegates, I like to know what they stand for and how they will represent me in the state legislature. In researching the candidates for House District 18, I was surprised at what I learned. I decided to write this letter to share some information with my neighbors.

The two candidates for District 18 are incumbent Republican Michael Webert and Democrat Dr. Doug Ward.

Dr. Doug is a physician who has dedicated his career to treating chronically ill patients who are suffering with HIV/AIDs. He has written about the vital importance of health care insurance to ensure that individuals can receive lifesaving medications and treatment. Consequently, he strongly supported the Democratic push for expansion of Medicaid in Virginia and would work to further expand access to affordable health care.

In contrast, Del. Webert voted against expanding Medicaid and health care to 540,000 Virginians and 3,000 in Fauquier County alone.

I believe in Second Amendment rights, but also in basic gun safety laws. Dr. Doug, who is a former NRA member and gun owner, agrees with and supports gun safety laws. He understands how lethal guns are in the wrong hands.

Del. Webert voted against several gun safety bills that were introduced, and eventually passed, in the House of Delegates. Mr. Webert supported measures to allow people who are the subject of a restraining order to have weapons and a measure to allow guns on school board property.

There are many other issues that I’m concerned about, but another that deserves mention is broadband access. As those of us who live in very rural areas know, it is difficult and expensive to get even a decent satellite signal. This matters now more than ever with a pandemic underway and many of us having to work from home and educate our children online. Dr. Doug lives in a remote part of Rappahannock County and has personally experienced the challenges of poor internet and cell phone access. He wants to improve broadband access for us all.

Del. Webert has done nothing to address the lack of broadband access in our county. He says he’s in favor of it, but his voting record contradicts his supposed support. When given the chance to fund rural internet access, he voted against the American Recovery Plan Budget (House Bill 7001), which included $800,000 for broadband expansion.

Mr. Webert has also voted against women’s rights, environmental protection and fair pay for working folks: He voted against the Equal Rights Amendment, the Virginia Clean Energy Act and raising the minimum wage, which hadn’t changed since 2009. All of these important initiatives were passed with Democratic leadership and commitment.

Dr. Doug supports what our Democratic-led Virginia legislature has accomplished in the last two years, and wants to build on that progress. Electing Dr. Doug will bring us a delegate ready to roll up his sleeves and work for health care access, better pay, equal opportunities, and a cleaner environment. I’m all for that, how about you?
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