LYNCHBURG — Albemarle-based mechanic and Democrat Tracey Carver announced his campaign to challenge the 59th District House of Delegates incumbent with a campaign focused on expanding access to health care and education, support for farmers and opposition to the construction of natural gas pipelines in the state.
Carver, 50, will be challenging Matt Fariss, R-Rustburg, to represent the sprawling district, which covers all of Appomattox, Buckingham, a large section of Campbell and parts of Nelson and Albemarle counties. Fariss has held the seat since 2012.
In an announcement to a group of about two dozen attendees at the Old Campbell County Courthouse in Rustburg on Saturday, Carver emphasized his desire to represent “the everyday people” of the 59th District.
“I believe that we have too many career politicians that claim they represent us but they don’t seem to be doing much outside of cashing our checks,” Carver said in his announcement speech. “I am entering this race to fight the career politicians who seek to find new ways to take from us and give to their rich donors.”
Carver is listed as the Democratic nominee for the seat on both the Virginia Public Access Project and the Democratic Party of Virginia’s websites. As of June 1, Carver had raised $200. He and Fariss are joined in the race by Green Party candidate Marcus Sutphin.
Carver served in both the U.S. Navy as a translator of Korean and German and as a Hospital Corpsman in the U.S. Marine Corps. After leaving the service he worked in a variety of fields, including hospitality and commercial sales, before becoming a self-employed mechanic in 2011.
The issue that most heavily influenced his decision to run for office is his opposition to the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. According to Carver, the state should instead focus on investing in clean energy and move away from fossil fuels.
“Without clean air and clean water, we are nothing,” he said in an interview. “We need to invest in technologies that are clean. We need to take the billions of dollars that are being invested into these pipelines and use it create opportunities for this money to be invested in solar and wind instead.”
As a self-described “sophisticated country boy” who grew up on a farm, Carver wants to implement policy to support farmers across the state to keep local food supplies strong and reduce pollution associated with having to bring food in from other regions.
“We’re taking farmland and making housing tracts,” he said. “Farmland loss is farmland loss forever. Once we start having to ship our food in from other states and other counties it’s creating more carbon emissions and a bigger carbon footprint. If we were to invest in farming and make it an income producing, a job producing entity then we would help reduce our carbon footprint.
Another issue Carver is pushing is universal access to health care for all Virginians. He supports Medicaid expansion in the commonwealth and the creation of a state-sponsored health care system if Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act.
“Your health care should not be determined by an algorithm of whether or not it would affect the bottom line of a corporation,” he said. “Doctors and nurses didn’t go into health care because they thought they wanted to be rich and famous; they did it for an altruistic reason. Insurance companies went into it so they can make as much profit as possible and pay out as little as possible. We need the doctors and nurses making health care decisions, not insurance companies.”
He also supports an expansion of free public education from just K-12 to all levels of higher education.
Betty Zieger, chairwoman of the Campbell County Democratic Committee, opened the event announcing Carver’s candidacy, remarking that liberals and those who are unhappy with the policies of incumbents need to go to the polls in the fall, but also must talk with their neighbors and friends about political issues to grow support.
“I have become more and more determined that we have got to replace people that are doing us no good and elect people who will listen to all of their constituents, but not just the ones who voted for them,” she said.
Although Fariss had to battle it out with Democrat Connie Brennan and independent Linda Wall in 2011 to first win the seat, he has gone uncontested in the last two election cycles. Over half of the 59th has voted for a GOP candidate in every election since the boundaries were redrawn in the once-every-10 years redistricting process in 2011, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
Carver also supports legalizing marijuana because he said it would bring in more tax revenue, relieve stress on Virginia’s prison system and allow farmers to grow hemp more widely.
“Prohibition didn’t work in the past and it isn’t working now,” he said. “If we legalize marijuana and we see the tax benefit that Colorado has been reaping, we will stop the untaxed profits going to the gangs and cartels and it will go into our general fund instead.”