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Gaughan outlines positions for 5th race
Monday, June 9, 2014
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Lawrence Gaughan believes he can oust Robert Hurt from Congress with support from voters whom he described as Southside’s “ordinary” people.
During their convention on Saturday, state Democrats selected Gaughan — pronounced “gawn” — to challenge Republican 5th District U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt of Chatham in the Nov. 4 election.
Gaughan said he has established a residence in Danville because in running for Congress, “I feel like I can connect with people more in Southside, the ordinary working folks” who comprise most of the district’s voters.
That is in contrast with the more affluent Charlottesville area, where he is from. He said he values the greater economic diversity among residents of Southside, which factored into his decision to base his campaign here.
“People are tired of business as usual in this district,” he said. “They need a true voice of the people.”
That voice, according to Gaughan, is not Hurt, who was a longtime state lawmaker before he was elected to Congress in 2010.
Hurt has “done very little to revitalize this district,” Gaughan said, referring to the region’s economy. And, “he hasn’t represented the best interests of the people ... but the interests of money and power.”
Gaughan, 47, spent about a decade in the home construction, remodeling and repair business before becoming an actor who has appeared in a few movies and television shows, as well as in stage productions. However, he considers himself a “full-time candidate” now, he said.
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If elected, “I would help the ordinary working folks” improve their economic statuses, such as by trying to find ways to help them pay off student loans, Gaughan said.
Government needs to help people improve their standards of living and help farms and “Main Street businesses” succeed rather than focus on helping big businesses and Wall Street financial firms, he said.
“Big corporations are not paying their fair share” of taxes, he said, because “they have an army of lawyers figuring out ways” for them to get around it.
He would work to repeal tax breaks on multi-national companies and firms that send jobs overseas, he said.
Gaughan said he would not necessarily favor increasing corporate taxes because he does not want to discourage companies from coming to — or expanding into — Southside and creating jobs in the region.
Still, “the tax code needs to be looked at” to ensure it treats everyone fairly, he said.
It is not fair, he continued, that CEOs of large companies are making multi-million dollar bonuses and, as a result of things such as tax loopholes and offshore bank accounts, are paying fewer taxes than people earning a minimum wage that is “barely enough to put food on the table.”
To stimulate business development and growth, Gaughan said he would encourage public-private investments that are “nudged forward by the government” without dipping heavily into the federal treasury.
An example he mentioned is low-interest loans.
As another economic stimulus, Gaughan said he would work to get laws enacted that would require uniforms worn by government workers to be manufactured in the United States.
Gaughan said he favors expanding Medicaid. Not only would it help people having trouble paying their medical bills, but also it would help create jobs in the health care industry, he said.
He added that he would favor starting New Deal-like programs that would create more government-funded jobs such as teachers, police officers and firefighters.
The New Deal was a series of federal programs enacted in the 1930s aimed at helping the nation recover from the Great Depression. Gaughan thinks the country remains in a recession.
“This recession,” he said, “is bad enough that we could use some additional help” from the federal government to create jobs.
Funding for early childhood education programs needs to be increased, said Gaughan.
After they become old enough to go to school, children in those programs have longer attention spans, which makes them better students and “makes teachers’ jobs easier,” he said.
He also favors increasing teacher salaries and finding ways to reduce class sizes to help teachers give students more individual attention, he said.
Although he never has held an elected office, Gaughan said he has been involved in Democratic politics since high school. He founded GOV360, a nonpartisan organization that advocates public participation in government, particularly at the local level. He now is its chief executive officer.
“The most important issue overall” in the November election is the need for voter participation, he said.
Gaughan has a master’s degree in social change from Pepperdine University and a bachelor’s degree in theater from the University of Montana.
He said he has challenged Hurt to one or more debates, “or any kind of public forum,” to discuss issues but the congressman has not responded.