Benjamin Siff is the Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates District 92. His name will appear on the ballot on Nov. 2.
Candidate: Benjamin Siff
Race: Virginia House of Delegates District 92
Biography: Benjamin Siff has been a resident of Hampton since 2004 when he moved to Virginia with his family. In the course of attaining Eagle Scout through local Boy Scout Troop 29, he worked on many community projects throughout the city and the greater Hampton Roads area. Siff graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Kentucky with a degree in music performance and remains an active member of Bethel Baptist Church. Siff believes in the power of everyday citizens to make effectual change in the civic government.
Why should Virginians elect you to the Virginia House of Delegates?
Virginians across the Commonwealth are fed up with corrupt politicians who promote divisiveness and ignore the needs of our communities. As a young adult, I will bring the energy and fresh perspective that is needed to accomplish real change in the Virginia House of Delegates. I’m not a politician, but I do care about what goes on in my community, and the politicians in Richmond are no longer representing the interests of the people.
What do you hope to accomplish, if elected?
The first three issues that I will fight for in the Virginia General Assembly are: Enacting a total ban on educational materials that divide students based on race (seriously, why wasn’t this passed in the 60s?); supporting both proactive and reactive strategies to address rising crime; and a sustainable energy strategy that replaces the unstable plan recently enacted by the Virginia General Assembly.
As a musician, I will also support arts programs in the public schools. The pandemic has severely hurt performing ensembles which help students learn teamwork, cooperation, and leadership, and I will model these traits as I stand up for the arts in the Virginia House of Delegates.
What is the most important issue facing your district, and what is your position on it?
Crime is certainly the most immediate issue, although racist educational material pushed by the Virginia Department of Education is a close second. There are two ways we need to address crime: Using proactive and reactive measures. We must be proactive in preventing crime from happening by supporting community initiatives, like after-school programs and community centers, which provide guidance and alternatives to at-risk individuals. We must also support reactive measures to address crime once it has happened, and that means supporting our law enforcement. I will vote to protect qualified immunity and provide our law enforcement with the resources they need to protect our communities.
What is your position on Virginia’s overall response to the coronavirus pandemic, and what might you have done differently?
Shutting down our schools long-term was a disastrous decision. The virtual learning environment has proved largely ineffective, despite our teachers’ best efforts. Students’ academic development has been held back, while depression and loneliness have soared. Students in historically marginalized communities have been disproportionally affected by this decision. Teachers are so overburdened by the unreasonable demands of the Virginia departments of health and education that schools are becoming a challenging place to teach or learn.
Gov. Ralph Northam and the Virginia Department of Health have continued to pressure and deride those who choose not to receive the coronavirus vaccine, regardless of people’s personal medical history. Personal medical decisions should not be made by some bureaucrat in an office — they need to be made by individuals through informed consultation with a trusted healthcare provider.
What are the top three issues created by the coronavirus pandemic in your district, and how would you plan to address them?
The coronavirus pandemic caused many issues, but the state of Virginia’s response made the situation even worse. Closing the schools forced teachers and students into an ineffective online learning environment, which widened the education gap by income and caused skyrocketing depression and loneliness. Scientific study shows that children are highly unlikely to contract or spread this disease, but Gov. Ralph Northam and the Virginia Department of Education consistently ignore the science. We must enact legislation that puts reasonable restraint on the power of one person to shut down millions of peoples’ lives on a whim.
Our economy has been devastated by the coronavirus lockdowns, but the Virginia General Assembly continues to pass legislation that favors big corporations and ignores small businesses that are the backbone of our local economy. In the middle of the pandemic, the Virginia General Assembly passed radical energy legislation that converts our energy grid into an unstable power network controlled by one company instead of finding solutions that help local business owners stay afloat. We must prioritize sustainable, long-term solutions to our energy grid and seek solutions that help our community businesses.
With schools and business shut down, crime has skyrocketed throughout the state. While Virginians were reeling from the pandemic, the state government worsened the situation by releasing violent criminals, and making sexual assaults in schools easier to cover up. I will fight for legislation that protects Virginia’s children as well as finding solutions that discourage citizens from getting involved in crime.