Improve Public Transportation, Strenghten Anti-Discrimination Policies, Key to Foltz Campaign
Jerry Foltz, Democratic candidate and church minister, is challenging Republican Delegate Tim Hugo this fall for the 40th seat of the Virginia House of Delegates. The district, which includes Prince William County and Fairfax County, has been occupied by Hugo since 2003.
Foltz is very active within his community as a protestant minister at the United Church of Christ.
“I’ve dealt with building communities; I’ve dealt with decision making among people in our churches that don’t always see eye to eye with their points of view,” says Foltz. “I try to build consensus with decision making and not divide churches – they don’t last long if you start dividing every time you make a decision and that division (also) hurts our state.”
Foltz has also served as chaplain for the Centreville Station #17 Volunteer Fire Department for over 16 years, providing support to fire personnel and aid for victims of tragedy. He says in the end, his motivation all comes back to the families.
“I would like to deal with issues that are really important to our families,” he says. “There are a lot of things that relate back to the families; our schools, transportation, our healthcare, and I’d like to overall build a sense of community.”
Foltz supported the transportation reform passed last session. Still, he says, more needs to be done. He says he will advocate addressing alternative methods of transportation including the metro and transit system as well as support safer roads for bicyclists.
“More needs to be done to support other transportation,” he says. “The transits systems need more support. Both the metro and bus services need to be upgraded and made more accessible and we also need more parking for some of the metro stations.”
Foltz says Virginia has some of the best quality schools, however, he says the legislature needs to be reprioritized to address some of the issues affecting education in the state.
“The state legislature should stop mandating the things that cost money without providing assistance for it,” says Foltz. As an example, Foltz says requiring certified teachers to monitor the SOL’s when they are needed in the classrooms. Requirements such as these inspire Foltz to want to influence reform. He says that schools rely too much on testing to evaluate students as well as teachers.
“Testing needs to be reoriented to help the students in terms of what their learning needs are and not used to punish the schools,” he says. “We also want to make sure, between our partnership with the state and the counties, that our teacher pay is adequate and what it should be.”
Foltz says he supports the expansion of Medicare to those in need and says that all Virginians deserve access to affordable health-care options. However, he says there are some implications that could result from the new healthcare changes.
“For the state as a whole, I see a potential for improvement of people’s health,” says Foltz. “However, I’m getting some indications that businesses and even nonprofit groups may be cutting back on the hours of employees to avoid having to provide health care, and I think that’s immoral. It’s exploiting people without providing the benefits they need.”
According to Foltz, Virginia has great potential for employment growth, but the state needs to be more adamant about enforcing anti-discrimination policies and offering healthcare for domestic partners.
“That has discouraged businesses from coming here,” he says. “Employees will not feel secure, combined with the fact that some of the (future) healthcare provisions will not be provided for partners in whatever committed relationships people are in, and I think that that discourages businesses from coming here.”
Foltz and his wife, Alice, helped to organize the Centreville Labor Resource Center in 2011 as a way to help immigrants find work in Northern Virginia and pave their path to citizenship. He advocates an appreciation for diversity and says that is has helped reduce cases of wage theft and provides more accountability for employees.
“It has been in place for over a year and a half with no tax money spent on it. It’s a $200,000 operation all with private funding. About 450 workers are registered and 35 of them are women,” says Foltz.
“I’d like to bring an appreciation for our racial and ethnic diversity in our district,” says Foltz. “Our racial and ethnic diversity really is a strength. My opponent has shown hostility toward the immigrant community and I resent that. I’d like to end that and help people appreciate each other more.”