I had the opportunity yesterday to interview William Quarles, the Democratic nominee in the 65th House of Delegates. Quarles is running against Del. Lee Ware, your typical right-wing Republican with the standard votes for voter ID, harsh anti-immigrant laws, transvaginal ultrasound, shutting down women’s health clinics, banning abortion and contraception, you name it. In short, Ware’s the pits. Unfortunately, this is a very “red” district, but despite that, Quarles was elected and served on the Goochland County Board of Supervisors for eight years, including three as Chair. Quarles says on his website that he “decided to run for the House of Delegates last year when he saw how the voice of the people had become increasingly drowned out by extremists with radical social agendas…that rigid ideology had taken the place of compromise and common-sense, and something had to be done.”
Here are a few highlights from our conversation.
*Quarles said the top issues in his campaign have been “women’s health issues, Medicaid expansion, and education.”
*We had a long talk about ethics reform, which Quarles strongly supports. Quarles pointed out that Republicans like to claim they’re the “transparent party,” but that there’s significant evidence to the contrary.
*According to Quarles, when the “special interest groups” which have donated large amounts of money to campaigns “get the first bid at having [the politicians’] attention,” the citizens then become the “second-class citizens.” Quarles asked, “what is it about ‘of the people, for the people’ that we don’t understand?”
*Quarles noted that when he worked for Dominion Power, “we could not accept gifts and our behavior had to be above board, and no perception of conflict of interest…or ethics.” Clearly, it needs to be the same way with our elected officials.
*As for Del. Lee Ware, Quarles says he comes across as a “good guy,” but he’s in line in terms of his voting with Bob Marshall. In terms of ethics, Quarles points out that Ware is closely aligned with ALEC, which is an “ethical issue” in and of itself.
*Quarles said that House of Delegates committee and subcommittee votes should all be transparent, which they aren’t now.
*Quarles said he believes that “women of the Commonwealth of Virginia should not be relegated to second-class citizens…they are quite capable of making decisions about their health care issues along with their doctor…it’s THEIR decision.” Quarles adds that these are not just women’s issues, but “human rights issues.”
*Quarles said the person who explained it best on separating religious conviction from public policy was Tim Kaine, who said “my religious convictions are X, but…the law of the land is Y, therefore I have to go with the law of the land.” In contrast, “these convictions are not there for Lee Ware in how he’s choosing to represent the 65th District of Virginia.”
*Quarles said the mindset of people who speak of “less government” but then vote to have the government force doctors and women to have “transvaginal ultrasounds” is “egregious,” and clearly not in sync with their espoused political philosophy.
*The bottom line on Ware, in Quarles’ view, is that he’s an “extremist in moderate clothing…he voted the same way that Bob Marshall has voted.” His voting record clearly demonstrates that.
*To win this race, Quarles has been knocking on doors and making “thousands” of calls. He’s out every day at coffee shops, or some place in the district handing out literature. Media coverage is a challenge, as it is everywhere for House of Delegates’ candidates, which is where interviews like this on blogs and social media come along.
*On Medicaid expansion, Quarles said there are 12,000 uninsured people in the 65th district alone, which shows why it’s a “travesty” not to accept the Medicaid expansion.
*On voting rights, Quarles said that the system wasn’t broken, and that our voting should be made “easier…not having long lines where people have to stand out there on a rainy day to execute their right as a citizen.”
*Quarles stressed the importance of investing in Virginia’s infrastructure, not just transportation but also in education (pre-K, vocational, college, etc.), which needs to be a top priority in Quarles’ view. Quarles added that “if the infrastructure’s not there, [companies] will go somewhere else.” Also on the infrastructure front, Quarles pointed to the need for broadband connectivity in rural areas of his district.
*More broadly, Quarles commented on how people are getting a “raw deal,” as wealthy interests are able to buy influence and building government “in their image.”
*Quarles has raised around $80,000 (as of the end of August). They’ve got volunteers, but of course could use more. Hint hint. 🙂
P.S. Ware hasn’t had a Democratic challenger in 10 years, so kudos to Quarles for taking him on!