“Growing up in an Air Force family, I have lived all over the country, but nowhere has connected with me the way the New River Valley does. This truly is home, and that is why I have remained here for nearly a decade. This sense of opportunity here is why my wife Tatiana and I have decided to begin our family in Radford. I want to make sure that every high school and college graduate has the opportunity to do the same, and that is why I will fight hard for common-sense solutions to attract more industries and make the NRV
a better place to live for everyone here to come.” -Forrest
ON THE ISSUES
A QUALITY EDUCATION FOR EVERY STUDENT
We have some of the best public schools in Virginia here in the 12th District, and we have to make sure we take care of them. Good schools yield good communities, and funding is essential for our schools to thrive. Therefore, bringing money to our educational system is a very high priority for me. As delegate, I would fight for our tax dollars to come back to our elementary, middle, and high schools right here at home.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for our teachers and the sacrificial work they do for our children. I am committed to making sure they're compensated well for the hard work they do. We saw a 5% teacher pay increase in this past legislative session, which is a good start—but it needs to keep going! Speaker Kirk Cox recently put forth a proposal that we continue to increase teacher pay over the next four years until it's at least at the national average. This is something I am excited about and would fully support.
Teachers are the experts in their field and have undergone rigorous training to become so. They should therefore be given more freedom in the classroom and not be so fettered by legislation that often comes from those who are themselves experientially unfamiliar with educating.
In addition to our schools and teachers, I also strongly support our parents. Studies consistently show that family life is absolutely crucial in the development of children, and we need to make sure that NRV parents have the freedom to make education choices that are right for their kids.
The 12th District is home to two of the premier higher education institutions in our state: Virginia Tech and Radford University. Thanks to our current leadership in the General Assembly, both schools were able to freeze their tuition costs this year (for the first time in nearly two decades for VT). Our students can't afford for their tuition to grow any more expensive, so our General Assembly must continue to work so that these costs remain frozen.
A ROBUST ECONOMY HERE AT HOME
KEEP MOVING FORWARD
Virginia is already one of the best states in the country to do business, and I am committed to making sure it only gets better. Included in this is ensuring that we don't go backwards by repealing right-to-work laws, enacting a $15 minimum wage, or adopting a Virginia Green New Deal. Any of these agendas would seriously damage our economy and hurt our people.
HEALTHY BUSINESS CLIMATE
Too many of our main streets and corporate parks in the New River Valley remain largely empty. I look forward to working with our localities and with leaders within our district to cultivate a healthy business climate here in the NRV, bringing in job opportunities for our working folks as well as our college students at Virginia Tech and Radford University—so they have the option of staying here in our beloved valley once they graduate.
NO BURDENSOME TAX HIKES
The burden of taxes on Virginia's citizens is great enough already, which is why I am committed to opposing new tax hikes as well as being a strong voice for the New River Valley, fighting for our tax dollars to come back home.
OUR SHARED NEW RIVER VALLEY VALUES
SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS
I am a strong supporter of our Second Amendment, as one of the fundamental tenets of our Bill of Rights. Historically, Virginia's leaders were unwilling to ratify the U.S. Constitution until there was a certainty that the freedoms outlined in our Bill of Rights would be protected; those liberties still should not be infringed.
PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY
As the husband of a police officer, I know first-hand the sacrifices that our men and women in blue make every day to serve and protect our communities and am honored to have received the endorsement of the Police Benevolent Association. If elected, I would fight to make sure that our law enforcement officers have the means to do their jobs as efficiently, effectively, and safely as possible. Additionally, I would work hard to see that our local elementary, middle, and high schools have the School Resource Officers required to ensure the safety of our children. I would also seek to further the good work former Delegate Joseph Yost accomplished within the realm of mental health.
RIGHT TO LIFE
I am pro-life. I oppose the extremist principles that would have been legalized by Delegate Kathy Tran's bill this past January, which would have allowed for nearly restriction-free abortion on-demand up to the point of birth (or potentially even beyond). I support a holistic and compassionate approach to being pro-life: pro-child, pro-mother, and pro-adoption. We must protect every child's right to life; we must ensure that mothers have access to the care they need before and after childbirth; and we must work to make adoption more accessible and affordable for the loving homes across our state who would gladly accept another child into their families.
I believe the government exists to protect the rights and freedoms of her people and that government overreach must be checked. As delegate, I would be a staunch defender of individual liberty and would seek to ensure that we don't adopt unnecessary or overbearing regulations. I would also be a strong supporter of the property rights of our citizens—a big reason I oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which has misused federal eminent domain laws for the benefit of a private company.
REPRESENTATION FOR OUR BELOVED NEW RIVER VALLEY
I'm so grateful to call the New River Valley my home; this is where my wife and I want to raise our family. Having watched the chaos in Richmond earlier this year, one of my main concerns is bringing back common sense and hard work on behalf of our people here at home. Too often our tax dollars don't come back to help our schools, to repair our transportation systems, or to solve our broadband issues. I look forward to working with the other members of our SWVA delegation in order to make sure that we are never forgotten—that our voices are heard and that our needs are met.