By Taylor Boyd
Encouraging voters to cast a ballot was a recurring message at Wren Williams’ Summer Send-off.
Williams, the Republican candidate for Virginia’s 9th District in the House of Delegates, said the send-off was more of a community event.
“I’m only going to encourage people to go vote, and hopefully ask for their vote,” he said, and added that early voting, a safe and secure way of voting, is underway and will remain available until the election in November.
Ballots may be cast at the Patrick County Registrar’s office, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., until November 2.
“You can probably eliminate some of those annoying phone calls from people wanting to check and see if you’ve voted because as campaigns can check to see who voted,” he said, chuckling.
Williams became the Republican nominee after defeating incumbent Charles Poindexter, R-Glade Hill, earlier this year in the GOP primary. His platform aligns with many aspects of the Republican Party. He is pro-life, a strong supporter of the second amendment, and wants to see state taxes cut and give the money back to the people. But Williams said he is open to working across party lines and compromising when it is necessary.
“I’m not a very combative person. I’m very open to compromise when it comes to things I think makes sense and that work well for my community and constituents,” he said.
Williams said he is open to talking with others and asking what they need to see if it could also help the 9th District.
“There are other areas throughout the Commonwealth who are not of the same ideology or mindset, but they are very similar in demographics. They are also rural, they are also small towns, they are also below the poverty line,” he said.
Williams said he is willing to form across party line alliances to pass legislation that could roll back some of the political red tape affecting the district.
“I would absolutely be willing to support a bill that helps do that for another community because it would probably help my community at the same time,” he added.
If elected, one of the first bills Williams is interested is passing is a bill to ban Critical Race Theory (CRT) from being taught in schools. Williams said he does not feel the theory is appropriate for children under age 18 and believes it would work better being taught at the college level.
“You can teach it in your colleges, because it’s a look and criticism of how race affects different pieces of our lives, but 6-year-olds don’t really need to be growing up to learn that children of color are oppressed and children that are white are the oppressors,” he said.
Williams said he also thinks that although children are back in school, they still are facing a lot of distractions like the mask issue, potentially being exposed to the virus, and being in and out of quarantine.
“I would like to see that stress eliminated from their lives so the teachers can go back to teaching what they need to teach,” he said, adding he believes some of the stress can be eliminated by giving teachers more freedoms to teach instead of following the orders of the Virginia Board of Education (VDOE).
“I would like to see the Virginia Board of Education back off our local teachers and the school boards and allow them to implement the types of policies and procedures, and also values and standards of learning, they think is most important for their children,” he said.
Williams said he also believes there is a problem with teachers being forced to skim the surface of learning in their classrooms – a practice he said results in a lack of deep learning.
“The teachers are checking boxes, and then move on because their plates are so full. If we could eliminate some areas that aren’t what I would call as important for students and allow teachers the room and the breadth to teach them the more vital capacities, I think we would have better learning and the children would be happier,” he said.
Williams said the top issue facing Patrick County is the lack of a hospital or emergency room.
“The rural healthcare issue is very important. Just the other day, there was a business that had an individual get hurt really bad, and he had to go and basically ride an ambulance an hour unconscious before he could get help,” he said.
In addition to being problematic for Patrick residents, Williams said it is also a stumbling block for economic development.
“If a business comes in, they’re going to look at what kind of infrastructure you have. I would like to tackle that first and foremost, and that’s a big goal of mine,” he said.
Williams said he believes the principals of economics are important and likes to think about economics when it comes to all parts of life and legislation.
“I’m a big unintentional consequences kind of guy, and so being a lawyer, you have to think about the unintended consequences down the road,” he said.
If elected, he plans to be mindful of the fiscal consequences the bills he supports have on his constituents and potential future impacts.
He is also troubled by the demand for a $15 an hour minimum wage. While he agrees the amount could make total sense in the Richmond area or the Northern Virginia, Williams said it doesn’t make sense for areas that are smaller and have a lower cost of living. Additionally, the wage could hurt some small businesses, because some entrepreneurs cannot afford to pay those wages.
“It’s creating a real struggle for small businesses in more the rural areas of the Commonwealth. It’s something that needs to be dealt with,” he said.
While the bill has passed in the Virginia General Assembly, it has yet to go into effect. Williams said he would like to see a formal study done on the increased minimum wage and readdress the issue on a regional approach.
Williams said he believes the most important issues when dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic is making sure the most vulnerable are protected while also maintaining choice and providing people with the freedom to deal with the virus in the way they see fit.
“It’s here to stay and it’s something that we’re just going to have to deal with because I don’t see it going away,” he said.