The Case for Mike Hymes, From Mike Hymes
By Mike Hymes
Hymes, a member of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, is the Democratic candidate in the 38th District.
On Tuesday, voters from Radford to the coalfields go to the polls to pick a successor to state Sen. Phil Puckett, D-Russell County, who resigned his summer. We invited each of the candidates to make their case. Wednesday, we had Republican Ben Chafin. Today, we have Democrat Mike Hymes.
The upcoming special election offers the working people of Southwest Virginia a unique opportunity to make their voice heard throughout the commonwealth. For too long, Washington and Richmond politicians have left our region behind while launching a full out assault on our economy and our culture.
I want to be our next state Senator so I can be a voice for working people, coal miners, teachers and professionals. I’ve spent my life in Southwest Virginia working in the coal mines and the coal industry, raising a family with my wife, Cecelia, a teacher, and serving on the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors. As senator, I’ll focus on protecting our coal jobs and working families, investing in our children, schools and teachers, working to keep our communities safe, and expanding access to affordable health care coverage for the 30,000 uninsured working people in Southwest Virginia.
I am proud to have received the United Mine Workers of America’s endorsement, and I pledge to stand up for our coal jobs in Richmond. I’ll start by promoting new tax incentives for Virginia power plants that use Virginia coal to keep our lights on. I’ll also sponsor a bill that puts the General Assembly in charge of implementing new EPA standards — not the administration. I will be a strong advocate for clean coal technology and work to direct resources, incentives, and investments in research and development to our region’s colleges and universities. I’ll also work to complete the Coalfields Expressway, which will connect the energy-producers in our region and allow people and goods to move throughout the southwest easily. It will help both our energy industry as well as our tourism.
New investments in education will help our economy, and I am prepared to give our students and educators the resources they need to be competitive. As a member of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors and husband to a retired teacher, I worked to ensure that our teachers have the resources to help our students succeed. During my time as supervisor, we increased funding for our schools every year and recently increased salaries for educators and staff. As senator, I will support comprehensive school and testing reform, but only if it is a grass-roots reform that includes teachers and other state and local stakeholders.
We must improve our career and technical education programs to ensure our youth are properly trained for tomorrow’s economy. I’ll also work to promote more partnerships with institutes of higher education to expand dual enrollment opportunities for high school students. The Tobacco Commission region could benefit from the development of additional Governor’s STEM Academies and local community college programs in the area of advanced manufacturing.
As a county supervisor, I’ve worked to ensure that our law enforcement and first responders have the resources they need to keep our communities safe. As senator, I will continue to be a strong voice for public safety and promote increased training and fair compensation for our police, firefighters and public safety employees. I am also a strong supporter of our Second Amendment rights, and my voting record demonstrates that. We must find a way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill while protecting our rights as gun owners. I’ll work with both law enforcement and gun owners to ensure that our rights and the public are protected.
There are more than 30,000 people in Southwest Virginia that are without access to affordable health care, and, as a board member of the local hospital in Tazewell, I’ve seen the effect this has on our medical system. I support the bipartisan Marketplace Virginia plan as one possible solution that will expand coverage to more than 400,000 Virginians. Granting coverage to the 30,000 people in Southwest will also help ensure the viability of rural hospitals in the region by reducing the number of uninsured patients that seek treatment at emergency rooms. A healthier workforce and a stable health care system will also make our region more attractive to businesses looking to invest and expand in Southwest.
I’m a Democrat because we are the party of working people, and I am running for Senate to represent our home and our values in Richmond. I’ll protect our coal jobs, fund our schools and work to insure 30,000 working people in our region. On Aug. 19, we have an opportunity to make the rest of Virginia listen to us, and if you send me to Richmond, I’ll be a voice for all of us.