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A 13-term Democratic incumbent is back on the ballot this year in Hampton Roads, this time with a challenge from a Republican newcomer.
The 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Hampton and Suffolk, plus all of Newport News, Portsmouth, Franklin and Isle of Wight County, has been represented by U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott for 27 years. Scott, who serves as chairman of the House Education and Labor committee, is hoping to close out three decades in the Hampton Roads district.
Republican John Collick, a 57-year-old former counterterrorism expert who lives in Suffolk, said he looked around for a candidate to support in the November elections and couldn’t find anyone, so he decided to run. He won a three-way primary in June.
The Virginian-Pilot asked each candidate to tell voters about themselves and what they’d do if elected. (Some answers have been edited for grammar and length.) We’ll have stories on the congressional races coming soon, but for now, here are the candidates in their own words.
John Collick, Republican
Occupation: Retired marine, retired counterterrorism expert
Previous office held: none
Education: Campbell University, Northcentral University
How do you plan to respond to the COVID economic crisis moving forward? Under President Trump, unemployment hit historical lows for many groups, including African Americans, women, and Latinos. Only after governors shut down states' economies did our national economy begin to deteriorate. So, the foundation exists for low unemployment rates to return as states begin to open. While some businesses will not make it, others will thrive again. For those people who cannot return to their jobs, along with underemployed or unemployed folks, I am proposing workforce training in the high paying trades that we so desperately need — something Congressman Scott has voted against time after time.
How would you deal with a Trump second term or Biden administration? I will always seek bipartisanship and do what is right for our country, not the party line. All legislation I support will be constitutional, ethical, and moral; it will always put America’s interests ahead of other nations. I will never act out of partisanship. I’ll never damage reputations based on phony accusations, but will forcefully call for the removal of anyone, Republican or Democrat, who violates their oath of office or has committed a crime. To remain a free people, we must begin electing men and women with unquestionable integrity, not simply because of their political party.
What is a key issue facing your district specifically? The most pressing issue facing the 3rd District is education. Many schools, particularly in low income areas, are below average, according to GreatSchools.org. In many schools, most students cannot read or comprehend at grade level, and are not proficient in math or science. The best way to fix this is through competition. We need school choice; parents should be able to choose whether their child attends a public, private, religious, charter school or is home-schooled, with the money following the student. Every child should receive a quality education, giving them equal opportunities when they graduate from high school.
Bobby Scott, Democrat
Occupation: Congressman, former attorney
Previous office held: : U.S. House of Representatives (1993-Present); Virginia Senate (1983-1993); Virginia House of Delegates (1978-1983)
Education: A.B., Harvard College; J.D., Boston College Law School
How do you plan to respond to the COVID economic crisis moving forward? As chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, I have worked to provide funding to expand our testing capacity, to help state and local governments avoid significant cuts to education, and to require OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to implement an infectious disease safety standards to protect our workers from COVID-19. I have fought for expanded paid family, medical and sick leave benefits, as well as financial support for those in need, especially for the unemployed, and premium pay for our workers on the front lines, including those in hospitals, grocery stores, correctional facilities and shipyards. These provisions were all included in the Heroes Act passed by the U.S. House in May and I will continue to fight to make sure they are in the next COVID-19 economic relief bill.
How would you deal with a Trump second term or Biden administration? Regardless of who wins the White House this November, I will push for passage of my Raise the Wage Act to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. I will work to pass my College Affordability Act, which would update the Higher Education Act to address the student debt crisis and to make college more affordable. I will work to make sure workers have a level playing field and stronger bargaining rights through my Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. And I will continue to push for comprehensive criminal justice reform and end our nation’s addiction to mass incarceration with my SAFE Justice Act.
What is a key issue facing your district specifically? As is the case across our country, the most important issue facing my constituents is making sure our economy works for everyone, not just the wealthy few, and that we responsibly address the COVID-19 pandemic. But specific to Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District and Hampton Roads, we need to make sure that our shipbuilding and ship repair industries receive sufficient and sustained work to support our Navy. We need to make sure that those who serve and have served in our nation’s Armed Forces and their families receive the support and benefits they deserve. And as our region is one of the most at risk for sea level rise, it is critical that we invest in resilient infrastructure, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and support policies that address climate change. Here in Hampton Roads, we are fortunate that we have engineers and scientists at Jefferson Lab and NASA Langley dedicated to this work, and we must continue to support investments in science and research. Our region’s economy is driven by our military, shipbuilding and other federal partners and I will continue to advocate for our interests in the halls of Congress.
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