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Hurt bids for seat in Senate
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Robert Hurt

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

By AMANDA BUCK - Bulletin Staff Writer

Del. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham, is seeking the Republican nomination for the 19th District seat in the Virginia Senate, he announced Tuesday.

Hurt, 37, who has represented parts of Henry County, Martinsville and Pittsylvania County in the House of Delegates for six years, will seek the seat currently held by Sen. Charles Hawkins, R-Chatham.

Hawkins, 63, announced last week that he will retire after 26 years of service.

Hurt said he hopes to continue in the Senate the efforts he has made in the House to improve economic and educational opportunities in Southside.

"I pledge that if elected to the Virginia Senate I will continue to work tirelessly for my constituents and to do all within my power to keep moving Southside Virginia toward strong economic prosperity," he said in a statement.

He cited the New College Institute in Martinsville, of which he is a member of the board of directors, and the new Virginia Museum of Natural History, opening here this weekend, as accomplishments he and other legislators of both parties have worked together to bring to the area.

"With the thousands of jobs that we've seen leave Southside Virginia to go overseas, we don't have a choice but to pull together," he said. "I'm proud we've been able to do that."�

The New College in particular is essential to transforming Southside's economy, he said.

"The New College is a centerpiece of our reinvention of our economy, and I'm very proud of our work in that regard," Hurt said. He added that he "looks forward to staying engaged with the New College for the long-term future."�

In addition to new industries and expanded work force training for Southside residents, Hurt said he has worked to increase state funding for K-12 education and to increase the safety of Virginia's children through membership on the Courts of Justice Committee and the Youth Internet Safety Taskforce.

If elected in the 19th District, Hurt no longer would represent Henry County and Martinsville. That district covers Pittsylvania, Franklin and Campbell counties and the city of Danville.

He said the decision not to continue representing Henry County and Martinsville was "bittersweet."�

"When I first ran in 2001, although I grew up in Pittsylvania County, so much of Henry County and Martinsville was new to me, and I just have loved the privilege of being able to represent" those areas, he said. "I think this is an opportunity that it is important that I pursue, but at the same token there's some sadness there."�

Regardless of where the districts are drawn, Hurt said he will keep Henry County and Martinsville "in his heart" and work to improve conditions of the region as a whole.

He said the structure of the Senate, which has 40 members to the House's 100, means that a senator arguably can have more influence for his constituents.

Hurt said he also hopes that he, like Hawkins, will be able to serve on the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, which helps areas of Southside that have been hit by the downturn in the tobacco market.

He will be campaigning from now until Nov. 6, but Hurt stressed that he will continue to work for the 16th District until the end of his term in December.

He said he is not aware of any other potential candidates for Hawkins' seat but would welcome competition.

Hurt, a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College and the Mississippi College School of Law, is an attorney with H. Victor Millner Jr., P.C. in Chatham. He and his wife, Kathryn Heithaus Hurt, have three sons.


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