Home 2019 Elections Improving I-81, And Doing It Fairly — April Moore Throws Down the...

Improving I-81, And Doing It Fairly — April Moore Throws Down the Gauntlet to Mark Obenshain

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This piece will be appearing in the two main newspapers of SD-26, the district in which I am challenging Mark Obenshain for the seat he now holds in the Virginia State Senate. – April Moore

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The idea of “representative government” is that the people’s representatives should represent the interests of the people who elect them to office. But it doesn’t always happen that way. Take the case of how to go about getting our Interstate highway — I-81 — the improvements it needs.

On the point that I-81 needs to be improved, Mark Obenshain and I agree that I-81 needs to be improved.

But Mr. Obenshain – the man representing the people of this district in the Virginia state senate– is not reassuring on how to pay for those improvements.

In a recent email to constituents, Mr. Obenshain tries to sound like the friend of the people around here, declaring his commitment to seeing that the people of “the Valley” are not “unfairly burdened.”

Not “unfairly burdened”? That seems to mean burdened—but only with some properly burdensome user fee or toll.

But why should the people of the Valley – his constituents — be burdened at all?

Why should the resident of Richmond be able to drive up I-95 to Washington without paying a toll or user fee, whereas the person wanting to drive from Harrisonburg to Staunton, or from Strasburg to New Market, will have to pay for the privilege?

Our “representative” is doing something tricky here.

When he declares his commitment to keep the tolls imposed on the people of this Valley from climbing too high, he makes himself sound like he’s fighting for Us! But the real message in “not unfairly burdened” is that he’s ready to make his constituents shoulder some burden that other Virginians with Interstate highways are spared.

In other words, the real message is that Mr. Obenshain is not fighting for his constituents.

If Senator Obenshain were standing up for the people he claims to represent, his position would be like that of State Senator John Edwards, who represents the Roanoke area. Senator Edwards’ constituents need I-81 in their daily lives, just as we in Senator Obenshain’s district do. And John Edwards says the improvements to I-81 should be funded on a statewide basis.

That’s the position I would take if I represented this District. Because fairness says that the residents of the Shenandoah Valley – who pay into the state coffers, like the residents of the rest of Virginia – should get their Interstate highway maintained on a statewide basis like other parts of Virginia with stretches of Interstates (like I-64 all the way to the Hampton Roads area).

So if Senator Obenshain – in choosing not to fight for the fair treatment of his constituents—is not serving the people, Who is he serving?

“Who is Mr. Obenshain serving?” That’s a question I intend to raise with respect to other important issues facing our state. Issues like “regulating” Dominion Power, supposedly in the public interest. Like making affordable healthcare available to more Virginians. Like meeting the challenge of climate change. Like working people earning a livable wage. Like protecting Virginians from poisons in our air and water.

Stay tuned.

April Moore is running for the Virginia State Senate in SD-26. Her campaign website is: https://www.aprilmooreforsenate.com/

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