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Last updated: June 01. 2013 2:03AM - 794 Views
Michael Howlett
Staff Writer

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It is no surprise that Jonathan McGrady’s announcement that he would run for the 6th District House of Delegates seat presently held by the retiring Annie B. Crockett-Stark took place at an empty plant in the Carroll County Industrial Park.

“Since I decided to run for office just a few days ago, I have had many well intentioned people give me advice,” said McGrady. “The announcement location was at the top of list. They would say do it on your farm with the pretty views or at the historic Carroll County Courthouse where your ancestors go way back. Why pick an empty factory building?

“Well, this empty plant is at the core of my campaign. There are two other empty plants in this industrial park along with many other empty plants around the district. We hear so much about filling empty plants, which many times turn out to be empty promises. I get it. I know we need jobs. This is my top priority.”

“I see so many people struggling to make ends meet. It’s not right and we can do better. There has to be more we can do,” continued McGrady. “When I become delegate, I intend to create a showcasing the 6th district program similar to former Congressman Boucher’s model. I will personally recruit businesses to locate in Carroll, Wythe and Smyth Counties. We need to create a better partnership between the state and local governments. We have such assets throughout the district with highly motivated and skilled employees, empty buildings like these ready for occupancy and shovel-ready sites ripe for development. We also have the good fortune to have an interstate nearby with thousands of cars passing by daily; truly a golden location.”

As president of the Twin Count Regional Chamber of Commerce and while serving on the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Board, McGrady said he promoted jobs. As your delegate, he said he can do more.

Education is another priority for McGrady, whose grandmother and mother were teachers, and whose wife, Jennifer, still is.

“I strongly support public schools. They must remain vibrant. Our kids are our most valuable resource and are the key to the future,” said McGrady, who was a substitute teachers years ago. “We must stop state, unfunded mandates on our schools and local governments. Our counties only have so many revenue streams available, so when the state mandates a pay raise or a retirement increase, which our school personnel certainly deserve, then the state needs to pay for it. We have the resources. Unfunded mandates result in lost jobs, and our kids pay the price with lost opportunities. I intend to work on this as your delegate.”

McGrady also pledged to do everything he could to keep the Southwest Training Center in Woodlawn open.

“So often, people talk about creating jobs, but fail to work to keep existing jobs. The Southwest Training Center in Woodlawn is a prime example. When I decided to run, it was the first place that I visited. The Training Center is the second largest employer in Carroll County with close to 500 employees. It’s a great facility and I am very much concerned whether the residents will get the same quality of care if it closes as slated. I am equally concerned with the loss of jobs and impact on families in this area. I pledge to do everything I can as your delegate to keep the facility open.”

“We also cannot forget about our farmers,” added McGrady. “Agriculture is the biggest part of our local economy. I grew up on my family beef farm where I live now. We now operate a tree business. Our Commonwealth must support agriculture. Farmers have to be able to make a profit. I am very concerned with the loss of family farms and intend to zealously support agriculture as your delegate.”

Public safety is also a crucial topic, according to McGrady.

“We saw it firsthand a couple weeks ago with the 95 car pile-up on I-77. Governor Warner appointed me in 2005 to represent private attorneys on the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services Board. I fought for five years to provide grants throughout Carroll, Wythe, and Smyth Counties for School Resource Officer Positions and local police and Sheriff Departments. I will continue that fight as your delegate, and do something to help make I-77 safer,” said McGrady.

“As you might know, I sued VDOT over I-77 a few weeks before this last tragedy. I am concerned that the top brass in Richmond and Salem keep the road open despite clear knowledge that the conditions are too dangerous for travel. They put public commerce before safety. That is going to change.

“Also, it is time that VDOT completes the four lane project of U.S. 58. It is silly to build it in increments rather than from east to west. Because of VDOT’s picking and choosing where to build, we do not see the benefits of extra travelers and get all the negatives with people by-passing the town. The by-pass around Hillsville has a smaller car count than many secondary roads. We need to complete the four-lane of U.S. 58 once and for all rather than in bits and pieces. Only then will our local businesses see the benefits of the four-lane.”

Other concerns of McGrady are power bills and taxes.

“Our power bills are way too high, which hurts business and forces folks to choose between eating and heating their home,” he said. “In addition, there is significance in the fact that I am announcing my candidacy on tax day, April 15th. I, like so many of you, had to skimp and save to pay my taxes today. I do not want to see any new tax increases. I pledge to look for ways to save money without sacrificing our children’s education and core governmental services that are vital to our Commonwealth.”

“Maybe now you understand why I am doing this. It is in my heart and I know I can make a difference if you give me a chance,” stressed McGrady.

“On a personal level, I want to thank my wonderful wife Jennifer for her strong support along with my three children Molly, Jon, and Sam. I joked that the decision to run was much harder than getting married. Jennifer responded it should have been. You take a lot of family votes whether to run when you consider a campaign such as this. During those votes, which sometimes were split decisions, Jennifer always voted yes knowing it would be harder on her with the kids. I appreciate that and plan to integrate the children in my campaign- a true civics lesson.

Jennifer and I have been very blessed in life. We both stay active with the kids - Jennifer is the PTSO president at Hillsville Elementary and I am a Cub Scout den leader. We belong to the Hillsville Christian Church where I used to be a Deacon. We enjoy the outdoors and working and playing on our farm where we live. The boys and I like to hunt and fish and we like to camp as a family. We love the New River trail and Foster Falls Park is one of our favorite places.”

McGrady said his decision to run wasn’t about him, but about helping the people of the 6th District.

“As I told many early supporters, this election did not have to be about me. I was pretty happy with my life as it was. The opportunity for our area, however, is too important to miss. Those that know me well know that I do not take myself too seriously, but I take my job seriously. This is serious business. We need a strong voice in Richmond. I want to be your voice.”

The formal delegate nomination caucus takes place April 30th at 7 p.m. at Wytheville Community College, and McGrady said he would appreciate all of his local supporters being there to meet his friends from Wythe and Smyth counties.

“It will be a long seven months to November 5th. The challenge is great, but we can do it. Stick with me, fight with me, and sign up to volunteer, or maybe give us a couple of dollars. I need your help. We will win this race. I promise as your delegate to help make the 6th district the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

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