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Adams: Create the climate for jobs
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Les Adams

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Les Adams believes his experience as a small business owner helps him understand the importance of creating the right economic climate for businesses and jobs.

Improving the economy is the top issue facing the next 16th District member of the House of Delegates, Adams said. He is a partner in the Chatham law firm Adams, Elmore and Fisk.

“I think we do that by keeping taxes low and resisting increased regulation,” said Adams, a Republican who is seeking the seat being vacated by Del. Don Merricks. Adams is facing Chatham Democrat Elizabeth Jones in the Nov. 5 election.

A sixth-generation resident of Pittsylvania County, Adams said he understands the area and is committed to helping it succeed.

“As a Southside Virginia native, nobody is going to work harder to recruit businesses to come here than will I, and convince them that this is a great place to work and live,” he said. “I think that maintaining that focus is important.”

If elected, Adams said, he would begin by reviewing current policies on issues such as economic development piece by piece.

“There’s certainly room for improvement,” he said. “You look at what’s working and what’s not working, and you make those adjustments.”

Part of that would be an effort to “look for ways that government could spend less,” he said.

One way he would do that, Adams said, is by resisting so-called “unfunded mandates” from the state — laws and regulations that are passed at the state level without funding to pay for them, leaving the costs to localities.

“That would help free up other opportunities to reduce” expenses, he said.

Adams said he would “certainly love to look for ways to reduce taxes where we can in ways that don’t jeopardize funding for our localities.”

He also would oppose any efforts to “diminish the freedom business employers and employees enjoy” in Virginia, a “right to work” state that is not as heavily unionized as some other states. That has been cited as a reason Virginia consistently is named the country’s most business-friendly state, Adams said.

Overall, Adams said, he would like to see more control at the local level and fewer decisions made in Richmond. He cited education as an example.

“I think overall, my approach would be that localities are in a better position to make decisions than at the state level. So if there’s a way we can open up some of the decision making with the localities, that’s one method I’d like to pursue,” he said.

One example, he said, is state Standards of Learning assessments. Adams — who has worked as a substitute teacher and has taught at the college level — said he has heard concerns from many teachers in the district who would like to see changes in the way SOLs are handled.

“I think there are certain reforms that can happen in the K-12 system that (would) allow for more flexibility that can reward innovation and success,” he said. “ ... I’ve committed to exploring that and seeing what we can do to have that improved.”

“Parents and localities — those closest to the ground — need to have a bigger say in issues,” he added.

He also would like to see greater priority placed on vocational and technical training for those students who might not wish to pursue more academic career paths.

“It’s particularly important to remember that the system shouldn’t be one size fits all,” Adams said of education, “and encourage achievement across a range of disciplines that appeal to employers.”

He praised efforts in that vein, citing the work of Patrick Henry Community College and the New College Institute to prepare students for advanced manufacturing jobs.

Adams also praised the work of Merricks, a fellow Republican.

“I’m honored to have earned his endorsement and support,” Adams said. “I’ve pledged to folks that I will work hard on their behalf to fight for our values and way of life.”

Those values, he said, include the value of hard work and the opportunity to achieve and succeed.

Adams opposes lifting the state’s ban on uranium mining. Virginia Uranium has been lobbying for an end to the ban so that it could mine a 119-million-pound uranium deposit in Coles Hill in Pittsylvania County. The company says doing so would bring much-needed jobs and revenue to the area.

Adams said he is against lifting the ban because there is not a consensus that uranium mining can be done here safely.

He said he is committed to meeting with residents, hearing their ideas and taking those ideas to Richmond. He cited as an example a visit to Memorial Hospital in Martinsville, where he planned to ask hospital personnel to share their thoughts on increasing health care accessibility.

“It’s always good to go to the folks who are involved on the front lines,” he said. “It’s much like my approach to education. I think we have too many politicians who go to government who say ‘We know best.’ I want to be a voice for the people.”

The 16th District includes Martinsville and parts of Henry and Pittsylvania counties.


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