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Economy, jobs dominate campaign conversations
For congressional candidate Robert Hurt
Fifth District congressional candidate and state Sen. Robert Hurt (left) talks with Michael Waddell (right), owner of The Daily Grind in Jefferson Plaza, on Friday while Martinsville City Councilman Danny Turner (center) looks on. Hurt campaigned throughout the area on Friday. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
State Sen. Robert Hurt told local residents Friday that he believes reducing government spending, lowering taxes and reducing regulation will help create jobs.
"I am serious about reducing (government) spending and reducing taxes," said Hurt, R-Chatham. "Only the private sector can create jobs."�
Hurt, who is running for the 5th District seat in Congress in the Nov. 2 election, began the day at 6:30 a.m. at Hardee's on East Church Street, and ended it at 3 p.m. at the Henry County Courthouse. In between, he made stops throughout the county and city to discuss issues with local officials, businessmen and residents.
He said as he travels around the district, many of the small business owners he speaks with say they will not be hiring anytime soon due to the economy.
In Martinsville, The Daily Grind owner Michael Waddell told Hurt he moved back to the area to help train and mentor peers who lost their jobs in factories. Waddell said he is from this area, and he wanted to use the small business skills he has developed to provide others will the tools needed to create their own jobs and run small businesses.
Hurt said he believes spending, regulation and taxes must be reduced to make it easier for businesses to put people back to work.
When residents asked Hurt how he feels about the proposed federal cap-and-trade legislation, he replied that it would be a "job killer." That legislation, which passed the House of Representatives last year, is stalled in the Senate.
Under the legislation, the federal government would set limits on the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases industries could emit. Advocates for the bill say it would create incentives for green energy jobs; opponents argue that the legislation could cripple the coal industry and endanger jobs.
Martinsville Police Chief Mike Rogers told Hurt that he felt the cap-and-trade legislation would cause electric rates to go up, which would be hard on the community. Rogers said the area is most in need of jobs.
Later at Tarheel Tobacco, Daryle Peltier, a Marine who recently returned from Iraq, told Hurt that he thinks living in this area is "really tough" because of the high level of unemployment. Even if there is a better-paying job in Greensboro or Roanoke, a person has to have the money to move or commute, Peltier said.
To keep taxes low to encourage job creation, Hurt said he believes the tax cuts created under President George W. Bush's administration should not expire as scheduled in January. Instead, the tax cuts should be made permanent, he said.
"If you don't, it will be a giant tax increase on people and in business," Hurt said.
Hurt also said he feels off-shore drilling could help create jobs, despite environmental risks.
"We need to be very careful not to rush to drastic (negative) conclusions about off-shore drilling in Virginia," Hurt said.
He added that drilling accidents such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico were tragic, but it was important to find out their cause to ensure that the mistakes are not repeated.
He said he will continue to support off-shore drilling off the coast of Virginia, as well as alternative energy sources.
"At the end of the day, we have to recognize that fossil fuels are a limited resource," he said.
When Hurt visited the Uptown Bistro, he talked to employees while handing out pamphlets and introducing himself. There were no customers, but several employees told him business was slow due to residents going out of town for the Labor Day weekend.
"Uh-oh, here comes the dern politician," Hurt joked as he walked into Kay's Alterations on Walnut Street. He introduced himself to owner Kay Wood and seamstress Joy Sapp.
Sapp asked Hurt if he was a Republican or a Democrat, and he told her he is a Republican. "Good for you," she said.
Hurt also spoke to Tomeka Robinson, who works at the All About Me Boutique. Robinson said the business was slow that day, but it was busy when residents needed dresses or custom hats for prom, conventions and the Kentucky Derby.
A recent poll indicated that Hurt leads incumbent 5th District U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Albemarle County, by more than 25 percentage points.
Hurt said he "didn't know what to think about that," adding that the only poll that really matters to him would be results on election day Nov. 2.
Until then, he said, "we will continue to run as if we were 20 points behind."�