Name: Vangie Williams
Biography: Vangie Williams lives in King George, Va. and works as the strategic planner and senior project control principal for a government contractor.
Related Video: WAVY News 10 sat down with candidate Vangie Williams at our studios. Here are his replies on the following topics.
1. Why should Virginians elect you to Congress?
Virginians deserve better than what they have right now. I have a proven track record of leadership and navigating complex government bureaucracy as a strategic planner. To put it simply, I know how government works, or more importantly, how it doesn’t’t work. Shortly after 9/11 I was tapped to hire nearly 70,000 airport screeners in only six months while also writing the bluebook for their work. My work ultimately became the TSA. When the Columbia shuttle crashed, I was tapped to find out what went wrong and get the shuttle program going again. I know what’s broken and how to fix it. After 11 years of being in Congress, Rob Wittman has only five pieces of legislation that was successfully passed and signed by the president, and only two of those pieces of legislation positively impact the lives of Virginians.
It’s time for a real leader who will take action and work for the people of the 1st District.
2. What was the most important vote taken in your district in 2018 and why?
The 2019 national budget that passed along party lines is important for our district, our state, and our nation. While it was an improvement upon years of continuing resolutions that had our nation lurching from one short-term budget to the next, when you combine the spending with the reckless tax cuts for the wealthy in 2017, this budget takes us back to $1 trillion deficits and unsustainable spending.
3. What is the biggest issue facing your district, and how do you plan to address it?
The biggest issue facing our district is lack of leadership. Congressman Wittman has voted in lockstep with his party, even when it was against the interests of our district. He’s participated in the more than 70 attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare in the same time that Virginians voted overwhelmingly for the Medicaid Expansion. The most misplaced priorities of our current congressman is his obsession with building ships that are constructed outside of our district with no direct benefit here.
4. What businesses and industries would you try to attract to your district?
My biggest focus will be on promoting rural broadband. I will work with the existing infrastructure of rural electric cooperatives and partnering communities to lay the fiber so that service providers have the infrastructure in place to offer high speed internet. The economic growth and long-term savings from connecting rural areas will be incredible. Sixty percent of businesses are in areas that are underserved by internet. Rural towns are dying as our children leave for better education, jobs, and infrastructure elsewhere. Tourism is suffering, especially in the Northern Neck where lodging, retailers, dining and visitor experiences are directly impacted by a lack broadband access.
5. What are the top three challenges facing the Department of Defense, and how would you address them?
- Nearly 17 years of warfare and constant deployment cycles have lowered the capacity of both our service members and our weapons systems. As a result, many of our best and brightest military minds follow the allure of high-paying private sector jobs that capitalize on their leadership and life experience. And the ones who stay behind are forced to fight with dangerous equipment. For example, by some estimates two-thirds of F/A-18 Hornets are combat ready.
- Defense contracting companies and Congress have increasingly become obsessed with costly weapons systems that are not requested by the military or relevant to our current wartime needs. By obsessing with grandiose and infinitely costly weapons systems, we are short-changing existing weapons systems that continue to provide a clear advantage over our biggest enemies. We need to maintain a technological cushion between our military and our adversaries, but find the most effective methods to do so without the cost overruns.
- Unsustainable fiscal policies that can’t be put off indefinitely. This is a problem at every level of government, not just the military, but because of the sheer number of service members and the importance of national defense, continuing to pay for our needs by taking on more debt is no way to run a country.
My first step in dealing with these problems is to unseat Congressman Wittman. Having taken nearly one million dollars from defense contracting companies, he’s part of the problem, and his voting record reveals it. Just this year, Wittman tried to amend a spending bill with $1 billion on submarines that the United States Navy explicitly said it didn’t’t want. And, Congressman Wittman is no friend to fiscal responsibility, having openly supported a 2018 budget vote and 2017 tax cuts that will send us back into $1 trillion deficits by 2020.
6. In the face of a government shutdown, is it more important to make sure the budget passes or that your legislative aims are achieved? How would you apply your answer to the most recent shutdown threat?
My district will benefit from the proposals I seek, but before we can lay a single inch of fiber, we have to get our fiscal house in order. We have a major federal civilian workforce in the 1st District and I’m not going to play games with the financial security of our children and play chicken with the budget. It wasn’t that long ago that we had workers burn through their savings, businesses take a hit to their bottom line and our communities lost important tourism dollars after the 2013 government shutdown. Our economy needs to have the constancy of a functional government that can manage the most basic purpose of passing a spending bill that is responsible.