Monday March 6, 2023
CANDIDATE PROFILE: Joel Griffin | UPDATE: F2S and the Future | MEETINGS | PUBLICATION
SENATE DISTRICT 27 RACE
Q&A WITH JOEL GRIFFIN - DEMOCRAT
Democratic Primary Date: June 20
The race to hold the newly drawn Senate seat in District 27 is in full swing, and it promises to be not only a highly competitive race, but one of the more interesting races in Virginia. Gov. Glenn Youngkin will be watching closely, as on the Republican side, current House member Tara Durant, who has regularly voted for Youngkin’s agenda and carried one major piece of legislation for him, is squaring off against Matt Strickland, a firebrand in the mold of Kirk Twigg who has openly defied Youngkin in recent months. This primary showdown will tell us more about how popular Youngkin is than any opinion polls.
Independent Monica Gary is running a grassroots campaign that will prove to be a test of the power of independent voters. As an independent, she faces no primary opposition and will be on the November ballot.
The Democrat race is also compelling. Ben Litchfield and Luke Wright have been publicly running for the nomination since early last year. Last month, Joel Griffin entered the race, quickly raising $150,000 and marking himself a contender.
F2S, in an effort to inform voters about the candidates running for this seat, is asking each of the people running to respond to four questions. Ben Litchfield’s responses were posted February 3. Today, we turn our pages over to Joel Griffin for his responses.
F2S: Give us a sense of your background in politics and how that will help you in the Virginia Senate.
Griffin: For the Commonwealth, I’ve focused on getting Gwyneth’s law enacted with state legislators in 2013 in honor of my oldest daughter. This legislation ensures Hands-Only CPR training for all teachers in public schools and high school students before they graduate, and the placement of AEDs in schools. This January I was privileged to speak in support of new legislation funding AEDs in all elementary and secondary public schools across Virginia. Locally through my work in the business sector, I have helped obtain funding for rural broadband expansion to residents of Stafford County; facilitated a $750K grant to Germanna Community College supporting a new campus and expanding their nursing and cyber programs in Stafford; and deployed over $1M of EDA funds for the relief of local businesses during the COVID pandemic. This is the type of economic development experience that I will take to Richmond upon being elected.
F2S: What are the legislative priorities you would bring to the Senate?
Griffin: I have a number of community issues that I would like to tackle once elected to the Senate, but the top of the list is enshrining a woman's right to choose in the Virginia Constitution. As a father of two daughters, I believe that abortion is a decision between that person and their doctor and no politician belongs anywhere close to that room. I intend to legislate significantly on issues of economic development as that has already been a lot of the work that I have accomplished locally. I believe as a region District 27 can be more competitive in the state, nationally and internationally for new business and high-paying jobs. In parallel we can offer solutions to the traffic problem by creating new opportunities for our existing workforce to work remotely in Class A and secure office space built per their organization’s standards. These new facilities would offer our citizens the opportunity to live and work locally, with a secondary benefit being the increase of new restaurants and retail to accommodate this population shift. It’s also critically important for us to ensure that our public school teachers have the resources they need to succeed. As a member of Stafford ‘Cyber4+’ initiative, and former member of the SCPS Career Technical Education (CTE) Committee, I have personally seen these professionals routinely make the most of their limited resources. My wife is also a former public-school teacher and we both made the decision to send our children to public schools. I know first-hand investing in Virginia’s public schools is investing in the next generation of Virginians.
F2S: F2S has as one of its four vision points the idea "There's nothing that's wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." With that in mind, tell us one problem here in the 27th that can be fixed by what's right within the General Assembly.
Griffin: Our democracy has taken a dark turn in the past couple of years, as is evidenced by the harrowing events of January 6th and the election denialism which continues to fester in broad daylight. Worse, is the routine conversation of insurrection and calls for a ‘divorce’ of our great nation. One of my biggest missions when elected to the State Senate will be to protect and preserve our fragile experiment of democracy. Our freedoms can only be secured by individuals willing to uphold those most important principles. I was raised in a family without means and joined the Marines to both serve this country and provide a better life for myself. After serving in the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon and Intelligence Activity Command, achieving the rank of Sergeant, like so many in our community I transitioned to civilian life as a government contractor. My commitment to our nation’s security was renewed following the events of September 11 th when I saw first-hand the external threats we also face. After being awarded the Patriotic Civilian Service Award by the U.S. Army for ‘actions taken immediately and following 9/11 at the Pentagon in 2001’ I went on to support the Department of Homeland Security and then organizations within the Intelligence Community. I have worked with men and women who serve our nation daily defending our ideals abroad and here at home. As a nation we must continue to uphold the fragile principles of our democracy. America serves as the beacon to the world, not only for our freedoms but also for our resolve in defending those freedoms. We as a community must continue to work together, towards common goals, the preservation of those ideas, and to defend the liberties that have been fought for in our region since 1776.
F2S: Finally, name one or two issues where you can see working across the aisle to make things better for Virginia.
Griffin: I have already demonstrated my ability to tackle issues in a bipartisan way with the passage of Gwyneth’s Law. I intend to continue those efforts when I arrive in Richmond. There are a couple of issues where I would be sure to work across the aisle right away. First, infrastructure improvements to our region. We have seen significant expansions of the interstate and express lanes, but more can and should be done to improve our secondary connector roads to alleviate local congestion and as alternatives to I-95. This could be organized through the creation of a Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). Second, pursuit of Federal and State dollars for continued investment in regional workforce development programs. District 27 is one of the fastest growing localities in the nation, which makes training a qualified workforce a top priority. It will take an experienced leader to pursue these actions on Day one.
UPDATE: F2S and the Future
Over the past month I’ve fielded many questions from readers and friends about the future of F2S as I transition from journalism as a profession to one I continue to work will serving as a teacher.
My commitment to this endeavor is as strong as ever. And this week’s issues reflect that.
Today we feature Joel Griffin answering questions about his reasons for seeking the SD27 seat and his goals should he win. On Thursday, we will feature a profile of Spotsylvania School Board Candidate Megan Jackson, who is hoping to unseat Kirk Twigg in Livingston.
And on Wednesday, we will profile Megan Samples, a co-owner of Curitiba whose experiences in Haiti have much to teach us about the importance of humanitarian aid and inform her work today in the city.
There are also plans underway to bring a younger writer aboard to help cover local political meetings. Please watch this space for more information.
Thanks to each and every one of you for making F2S a part of your day, and for supporting this publication with your pledges.
-Martin Davis, Founder and Editor
Spotsylvania County School Board: March 6 at 5:30. View the agenda and Watch live.
Stafford County School Board: March 7 at 7:00. View the agenda and Watch live.
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