Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575
Hudson: Growth possible
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Fifth District Congressional candidate Ben Hudson thinks Henry County and Martinsville have what it takes to attract large companies.
What it takes, Hudson said while visiting Martinsville on Monday, are lots of skilled workers needing jobs and lots of large, undeveloped tracts that could support large factories and warehouses. He cited the automobile industry — including both vehicle and parts manufacturers — as examples of companies needing large facilities.
If the planned stretch through the county ever is built, Interstate 73 also should help attract new companies, he said.
However, Hudson did not know about plans for I-73, or that Martinsville has had the state’s highest unemployment rate for many months, before he was told about them during an interview Monday.
He lives in Fluvanna County, which is near Charlottesville.
When told about the city’s July jobless rate of 16.3 percent, and that the monthly rate has been above 20 percent at times, he said it was “shameful.”
“Nowhere in the United States in 2012 should a person have to say” he or she lives in a place with such high unemployment, Hudson said.
Hudson said he supports improving educational opportunities as a way to boost skills among the workforce.
He also did not know about the New College Institute (NCI) in Martinsville, a state-supported school providing local access to courses needed for certain degrees conferred by universities statewide. Universities send instructors to the institute to teach many of the classes.
After learning about how NCI is structured, Hudson said he thinks it sounds like an economical way to offer higher education and he would support it in any way he could if he is elected.
He also said he would try to help secure funding for I-73’s construction.
While he favors “serious cuts” to government spending, he said he also favors providing small businesses funds to help them grow and prosper.
Improving the economy requires a “balanced approach” of cutting spending on some things and spending more on others, especially job-creation efforts, Hudson said.
Hudson, an independent, is challenging incumbent Republican 5th District U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt of Chatham in the Nov. 6 election. Eastern parts of Henry County are in the district.
As a result of redistricting after the 2010 Census, Martinsville now is in the Ninth District. Hudson said that if elected, he would try to work with who is elected to represent the Ninth District “to work out a joint plan” to attract high-paying jobs to Henry County and Martinsville.
The Virginia State Board of Elections has certified Hudson, 51, as an official write-in candidate. In order to vote for him, voters will have to write his name in the appropriate space on their ballots and mark the adjoining box.
He said he circulated petitions to get his name printed on ballots but the number of verifiable signatures he collected was slightly less than what he needed.
Hudson is a retired Army lieutenant colonel with more than 24 years in the military.
Before retiring in 2008, Hudson was senior joint strategic communications officer for the U.S. Southern Command. He also has worked as a research engineer in Charlottesville, and he has a teaching license certification.
Hudson said he favors reforming the tax system by replacing the federal tax code with a flat tax of roughly 18 percent as well as implementing a nominal national sales tax. He also favors putting welfare recipients to work.
Hudson had reserved a meeting room at the Blue Ridge Regional Library on East Church Street in Martinsville for a public appearance Monday afternoon but no local voters came to see him. He said he was concerned.
“I have to analyze that” and figure out a way to attract voters when he makes his next appearance in the area, probably in a few weeks, he said.
Despite being a write-in, independent candidate, Hudson said he thinks he has a chance of winning the election because people throughout the 5th District whom he has met have given him encouragement.
On being an independent, he said “I don’t think I’d fit in nicely” in either the Democratic or Republican parties because his political views are “more in line with (those of) everyday Virginians.”
He said voters have told him that by choosing to run as an independent, he is showing “a common sense approach to the issues.”
In addition to Hurt, Hudson faces Democratic candidate John Douglass and Green Party candidate Kenneth Hildebrandt in the election.
Hudson said he has invited the other three to participate in some “on-stage discussions of the issues.” He hesitates to say the word “debate” because “it seems to scare” candidates for some reason, he said.
So far, none of the three have responded to his offer.
One of those “discussions” is slated for 7 p.m. next Monday at the Danville Regional Airport.