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Adams says his business experience gives him edge

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Les Adams believes being a Southside native and small business owner will help him effectively serve the 16th District in the General Assembly.

Adams, a Chatham lawyer, is one of two Republicans vying for the party’s nomination for the district’s House of Delegates seat in Tuesday’s primary. Former Pittsylvania County economic development director Ken Bowman is the other hopeful.

The winner of the primary will face Elizabeth Jones, a Democrat from Pittsylvania County, in the Nov. 5 election. She is the chair of the Pittsylvania County Democratic Committee.

The winner in November will succeed Del. Don Merricks, R-Pittsylvania, who is not seeking re-election.

Adams said Merricks asked him to run. Merricks said that is not exactly what happened.

“A gentleman called me and said he was interested in running. I met with him” and outlined the pros and cons of running for the seat, Merricks said Friday. But he added that he told him it was his decision. “I’m glad he’s running. ... I’d been looking for somebody” to run.

Merricks added that he is not campaigning for either candidate in the primary.

Adams, 38, a partner in the Chatham law practice of Adams Elmore and Fisk, PLC, is a former assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Pittsylvania County.

“This area needs to continue having principled, conservative experience” in Richmond, he said.

Adams said his “deep roots here” in Southside, as opposed to Bowman, give him a unique perspective on the region’s needs.

“It’s very important that our next representative (in the House) focus on all of the 16th District,” Adams said. “We need to approach our challenges on a united front ... not county by county.”

Adams said he is as concerned about Henry County/Martinsville’s future as he is about Pittsylvania County/Danville’s future. He mentioned that his wife, Melanie, works at a Martinsville pharmacy, they have friends here and his son was born here.

The government must “provide the right business climate” that will help the region attract companies that will create jobs, he said.

The best way to do that, Adams said, is at least to “hold the line” on taxes but preferably to reduce them. Yet creating the right business climate also involves “accentuating the resources we have” in Southside, he said.

For instance, he said, “people here know it is a great place to live” with a good agricultural setting. Opportunities to promote agribusiness should be stressed, he added.

Adams, who has not held an elected public office before, also said increasing educational opportunities is necessary to help Southside attract companies.

As a candidate, Adams said, “it’s one thing to say you’d like to bring jobs” to the region, “but it’s another to create jobs.”

He said his law practice has doubled its size from three to eight employees, and it plans to add at least one more employee when it soon opens a second office in Gretna.

Adams emphasized he is against the General Assembly lifting a statewide moratorium on uranium mining, and he has no plans to reverse his position.

Virginia Uranium Inc. wants to get the ban lifted so it can establish a mining and milling operation near Chatham.

“I simply believe there is not evidence sufficient to show mining and milling can be done safely,” Adams said.

Asked if he might ever be persuaded to change his stance, Adams said “I can’t predict the future.”

“I can’t foresee every technological advance out there” in the coming years, he said. But “I will always be open to learning new information” on the issue.

Adams said if he had been a lawmaker during this year’s General Assembly session, he would have voted against Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation package because he thinks it will not be good for the state’s economy.

The new law eliminates the excise tax on gasoline and diesel fuel but puts sales taxes on wholesale fuel. It also raises the sales tax on nonfood items, but by a higher amount in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads than other places, according to the governor’s website and published reports.

“The more I’ve learned about this legislation, the more I dislike it,” Adams said, adding that the law amounts to the biggest tax hike in state history.

“I’m not going to Richmond to raise taxes,” he declared.

Adams is opposed to expanding Medicaid. He said the government health insurance program already makes up about 20 percent of the state budget and if it is expanded, “I fear essential government services would be cut” or taxes would have to be raised to cover the additional expense.

Adams voiced support for Virginia’s GOP ticket which includes Ken Cuccinelli, the current attorney general, for governor; Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor; and state Sen. Mark Obenshain for attorney general.

He indicated their conservative positions on issues mirror his.


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