Infrastructure, other issues discussed at town hall

Anthony Flaccavento addressed the estimated 150 people at a recent town hall in Meadows of Dan. (Photo by Debbie Hall)

If Anthony Flaccavento can ‘Flacc the vote’ as well as he packed a town hall on Tuesday, the November contest could be a tight one.

A partially standing room only crowd of 150 filled Meadows of Dan Community Center at Flaccavento’s 71st town hall, with a no holds barred discussion of issues that ranged from broadband, healthcare and one of Flaccavento’s newest proposals – the creation of a national infrastructure bank.

The bank would be funded by taxpayers who buy government- issued bonds, he said. The funds then would used for infrastructure projects.

Current estimates show it will cost “trillions of dollars just to fix our roads and bridges and tunnels and ports,” he said.

In addition to funding those repairs, Flaccavento said bond sale proceeds also could be tapped to pay for other projects, including one to address the broadband/connectivity needs in rural areas.

A similar funding source – defense/war bonds — was used during the Great Depression, with portions of those proceeds used to build dams, parks and roads, he said.

“It would be like a war bond, but the war here is to rebuild our infrastructure,” Flaccavento said. “I think that kind of idea could get bipartisan support.”

Another concept he would like to see implemented across the district is a ‘drug court,’ Flaccavento said. He added that two-thirds of the 22 counties in the district have drug courts, in which nonviolent offenders complete an 18- to 24-month program. During that time, they must “get clean, stay clean, get a job,” and work with the court system and law enforcement, Flaccavento said.

The program is designed to “rebuild lives and get (participants) back into the community as productive people,” he said. “It favors rehabilitation and encourages people to become productive members of our community.”

With less than 70 days until the November 6 election, Flaccavento said the top concerns among voters are economic revitalization “in one way or another, people want better paying jobs, jobs that will last;” healthcare “people want serious healthcare reform,” public schools and “how much teachers are struggling to get by” and the changing roles, from stopping a shooter to greater demands in the classroom.

“The opioid crisis is way up there, broadband is a concern,” he said, and explained that is a common theme throughout rural areas.

Flaccavento said he can relate because his farm is three miles from Main Street in Abingdon, “and we have no service.”

While he said the crowd in Meadows of Dan was phenomenal, he also knows not all who attended support him.

“I’m just a working person who fights for working people,” Flaccavento said. “I am a progressive person. I believe the rich and powerful already have too many friends in congress.”

Flaccavento, an Abingdon democrat, farmer and businessman, is making his second bid for the U.S. 9th District congressional seat currently held by GOP incumbent Morgan Griffith.

Both sides have agreed to three debates: Oct. 15; Oct. 18 and Oct. 22.

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