Matt Rowe (D), Caroline County resident and the Democrat nominee for Congress in the 1st District, spoke in Lake Caroline Thursday night at an event hosted by former Commonwealth’s Attorney Tony Spencer. Matt Rowe is a Graphic Information Systems analyst and a graduate of Hampton-Sydney and VCU. Matt Rowe joined the Democratic Committee in 2007 and is a town councilmen in Bowling Green, serving on the Bowling Green Planning Commission from 2010 to 2014.
Thursday evening’s event was primarily meet and greet, where residents were able to get to know their candidate. Mr. Rowe made his way around the room giving attendees an opportunity to ask him questions about the issues most important to them.
During a short speech, Mr. Rowe began by talking about how he came to appreciate Tony Spencer (I) and his work with the McShin Foundation. The McShin Foundation is the largest non-profit in Virginia and serves as an alternative to incarceration in the case of drug and alcohol related or inspired crimes. This is a foundation and a program that receives overwhelming bi-partisan support from Matt Rowe (D), Tony Spencer (I) and myself (R), as well as support from the Caroline County Board of Supervisors. Cynthia Brewer, of Bowling Green, currently operates this recovery program for Caroline County.
Matt Rowe talked about the dangers of partisanship and argued that the best thing about the Republican Party is that it serves as a check on the Democratic Party and vice versa. Mr. Rowe said that he is proudly supporting Hillary Clinton because of the damage Donald Trump has done to the Republican Party (that, and of course, because she is the Democratic Nominee). If elected, Mr. Rowe said he wants to focus on bipartisan solutions to an unsatisfactory national infrastructure system. He discussed his experience dealing with water and sewer issues in the town of Bowling Green and how the Bowling Green town council was able to combine local loans with a Fort A.P. Hill water and sewer expansion in order to make these local improvements possible.
Matt Rowe also spoke a great deal about Veterans Affairs and the shameful VA medical system which has haunted our bravest men and women since Vietnam. Rowe argued that systemic structural problems and long waiting periods demand strict solutions to the claims and appeals purgatory within which many of our veterans find themselves, saying that Veterans have earned and deserve a better health care system.
Another topic important to Mr. Rowe was paid family leave. He spoke about numerous examples where unfortunate events like illness and wonderful events like child birth, often force citizens (especially women) to choose their jobs over their families. “I want to make sure that people that find themselves in a difficult situation do not lose their jobs because they have to handle these situations”, Matt concluded. By expanding the disability insurance program to include family leave for those who need it and increasing maternity leave for new moms, Mr. Rowe believes we can alleviate this dilemma between our family lives and our professional lives.
Matt Rowe argued that Congressman Wittman’s support of Republican Nominee Donald Trump gives Trump the credibility of the Congressman’s leadership and experience. He also pointed out that Congressman Wittman, who says he is solely focused on his reelection to Congress in November, is running for two offices at once; and that Congressman Wittman has been traveling outside of his district.
Mr. Rowe, in response to questions about the environment said that, “climate change is real, it’s happening, it’s caused by man and is directly related to carbon emissions”. He went on to talk about the need to end coal production in this country and that he did not believe in “Clean Coal.”
“There are industries that come and go”, he said, “and the fact is that coal isn’t going to be a future fuel resource. We can’t continue to prop up coal as if it was an energy source of the future”.
While Mr. Rowe admitted that ending the Coal Industry in America was going to be tough and cost many Americans their jobs, that the federal government needed to work with these new blighted areas to help the newly unemployed coal workers develop new economic skills for a new economy.
Mr. Rowe does, however, support Nuclear Power as an energy source of the future, so long as we can store nuclear waste safely. Mr. Rowe said that he was against fracking and worried about unknown future risks to the water supply as a result of the practice.
Mr. Rowe talked about increasing the cap on Social Security taxes in order to save social security for future retirees.
I asked Mr. Rowe about whether or not he supported High Speed Rail. Rowe said that there had been real problems with the notification process and that the DRPT has done a bad job working with rural residents living in the Ashland and Fredericksburg bypass regions. I asked him about the potential environmental destruction that could be caused by tearing up the countryside and the building of a bridge across the Rappahannock River, but Mr. Rowe explained that impact would be limited, if the project was approved, because it would comply with federal environmental regulations. DRPT will be releasing their draft version of their Economic Impact Statement later this year.
(It should be noted that I am a Republican, am supporting Congressman Wittman and am trying to give as fair an account concerning this event as possible; but readers should understand the bias of the author).