Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575
Susan Allen: Partisan politics hurting area
Former Virginia first lady Susan Allen carries the pumpkin she picked out at Grace Network’s Pumpkin Patch on Friday. She was in Martinsville campaigning for her husband, George Allen, who is running for U.S. Senate on Nov. 6. At right is Marsha Frith of the Grace Network. (Bulletin photo)
Sunday, October 21, 2012
By SAM JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer
Former Virginia first lady Susan Allen said Friday that partisanship and the inability of Congress to work together on budget matters are to blame for much of the economic issues that plague Martinsville and Henry County.
That’s why her husband, former governor and senator George Allen, has a plan to get the economy and the state back on track, she said.
Susan Allen made a campaign stop in Martinsville on Friday. Fresh off her husband’s third and final debate with Democratic rival and fellow former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, she joked, “I actually saw George last night.” That was because both were campaigning around Blacksburg before the debate, which was held at Virginia Tech.
Susan Allen, who has been on the campaign trail nearly as long as her husband — a year and a half, she said — visited with supporters during a luncheon at the Third Bay Cafe. She warned those gathered about sequestration — the threat of across-the-board budget cuts that could take effect at the end of the year if a budget agreement is not reached.
Those cuts could hurt education and the military, she said. Although the threat of defense cuts is greater in Northern Virginia and Tidewater areas near the naval institutions, Allen warned that damage would be felt in Southside.
“A lot of people think it only affects the Northern Virginia-Tidewater area, but we’ve seen the ripple effects across the state. It was the inability of Congress to come together on the budget, on national defense ... It’s just flat-out wrong,” she said.
Allen also spoke in opposition of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), saying added regulations and possible costs are “killing our businesses.”
Carolyn Baptist, co-owner of Third Bay Cafe, said members of Allen’s staff dropped by a couple weeks ago and asked if they could hold a lunch event there. Asked if the former Virginia first lady’s visit swayed her vote, Baptist said she “already knew how she planned to vote” before Allen visited, holding up her “Romney for President” button.
Judith Clark dropped by Third Bay for lunch, unaware that she was walking into an impromptu GOP meeting. Clark, however, was unfazed. When an Allen staffer offered her an “Allen for Senate” bumper sticker, Clark asked, “do you have a Romney one, too?”
Asked about her voting preference, she replied, “I’m going straight Republican. This is a serious time in this country.”
Allen said she has been touring the state to listen to the concerns and issues raised by Virginians. She told those gathered at Third Bay, “before the day is over, I want to know what your thoughts are about what the government can do or not do to make your lives easier.”
She blamed many of the economic problems in the region and nation on Congress’ lack of bipartisanship, which she partially blamed on Kaine.
“Democratic senators have said to George that their leader, Harry Reid, has said, ‘do not talk to Republicans’ about things like energy. George’s opponent was head of the (Democratic National Committee) his final years as governor. I don’t know how someone in that role can not be bipartisan when they go to Washington,” Susan Allen said.
Later, Allen visited the Grace Network Pumpkin Patch behind First Baptist Church in Martinsville, where she met with other local GOP leaders before touring the patch and buying a pumpkin. The fundraiser helps Grace assist people in need in the community.
Debbie Lawless, a volunteer at the pumpkin patch, said she was pleased to see Allen visit, but had no partisan feelings.
“We welcome everyone at the pumpkin patch, and hopefully, they can generate a few sales,” she said of Allen’s visit. “We’re hoping Mrs. Kaine (Anne Holton) also will come.”
When asked how the economic circumstances in Southside compare to the rest of Virginia, Allen noted Martinsville’s near 20 percent unemployment rate in recent years.
“Obviously, this part of the state has been hit so hard the last many years, and George and I are so heartbroken, really, every time we hear about another business closing here in the Martinsville/Danville area.
“But what we’re seeing is the policies in Washington are part of the reason. The fact that taxes keep increasing and mandated health care, they hinder business’ ability to grow and hire more people,” Allen said.
She credited Henry County and Martinsville for investing in college programs such as the New College Institute and “making sure we have a good foundation here for anyone who wants to improve their education. That’s a real stronghold that really makes a community and state stronger.”
Mainly, she complimented the people of the region for their resolve amid difficult economic times.
“I love the fact that they don’t give up. As Americans, we don’t give up. George wants to work for folks like that,” Allen added.