Geoffrey Burke is the Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates District 77. His name will appear on the ballot on Nov. 2.
Candidate: Geoffrey Burke
Race: Virginia House of Delegates District 77
Biography: Geoffrey Burke is the candidate running for Virginia House of Delegates in the 77th District, challenging the incumbent. He is a retired U.S. Navy officer having served our country on various warships, at training commands, and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. He has been a high school history and Bible teacher, a representative for the National Right to Work Committee, a property management administrator, and an order-taker at a local fast-food restaurant. He is currently shepherding several high schoolers through an online home-learning program. Geoffrey studied at the University of Michigan and Regent University’s School of Education. He has been a Cub Scout leader and literacy tutor and is an active volunteer in his church, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Republican Party of Chesapeake.
Why should Virginians elect you to the Virginia House of Delegates?
The citizens of Virginia’s 77th District should vote for me because the current delegate has not represented them well. Rather than making the very real needs of the voters his priority, he has accrued a voting record that puts himself and the radical Democrat leadership in Richmond first.
In the area of the education of our children, I would have voted to expand parental choices for where their children go to school, to protect our daughters’ modesty, privacy, and safety in the bathrooms and locker rooms, to keep boys in boys’ sports, to ensure parents have the final say in whether their children wear masks and get vaccinated, and to increase the rigor of classroom instruction.
I would have promoted public safety by continuing to respect our police officers and sheriff’s deputies. I would have fully funded law enforcement programs, so the departments are fully staffed and well trained. I would have said “NO” to legislative initiatives that serve to create suspicion of each other among our citizens and that promote division rather than unity.
Finally, because our economy has been damaged, both in the short term and the long term, by short-sighted tax policy and slavish adherence to radical climate change models, I would have taken a more measured approach to ensure Virginians have a diverse, reliable energy supply for the foreseeable future and reduced taxes.
For years (at least back to 1997) the voters of the 77th District have never had a real choice on the ballot. It is a working, middle class community with traditional values that needs a working, middle class delegate who shares their values and who will act on their behalf. I am not just the other choice on their ballot this year; I am the right choice on their ballot this year.
With the results of several years of Democrat one-party rule in Richmond staring us in the face, and the failed policies and disastrous legislation the Democrat-dominated Virginia General Assembly has enacted, many traditional Democrat voters are ready for change. Business as usual with Democrat leadership is not working; we need a change. I am running to give the citizens of northeast Chesapeake a real choice and to restore common sense leadership to the Virginia House of Delegates.
What do you hope to accomplish when elected?
As the delegate of citizens of the 77th District, I will actively promote, and vote for, full support and funding for our police, deputies, and first responders. These dedicated public servants often lay down their lives for the people they serve. The profession used to be held in very high regard. The national reaction to a handful of bad cops, whipped up by anarchists with a hateful agenda, has directly increased the physical threat to good officers, has created a decline in law enforcement recruiting, and has promoted the early retirement or premature attrition of experienced officers. This is a significant threat to public safety and will impact all of us. I will fight for our first responders in the Virginia General Assembly.
I will actively promote and vote for legislation that restores the control of education to the parents of Virginia. Virginia parents are being elbowed out of the way regarding the content of the curriculum to which their children are exposed, and the safety of the children is being compromised, not just physically in the restrooms and locker rooms, but also mentally and emotionally by various mandates and the exposure of the children to unnatural lifestyle choices by both faculty, staff, and other students. The practical result is that Virginia’s children are being left behind academically because of the non-academic distractions in the classrooms, halls, and playgrounds.
Finally, the Virginia Board of Education has been talking about dumbing-down the curriculum by removing higher math. They have already facilitated inaccurate, misleading teaching of our history and of civics. Our children need higher standards, not lower standards! I will fight for Virginia’s families by expanding school choice, by restoring parental control over curriculum and local policy, and by restoring the teaching of history “as it happened.”
I will actively promote and vote for legislation that creates incentives for military veterans to make Virginia their long-term home. I want to see the state income tax on veteran retirement pay eliminated. I want to ease, or eliminate, barriers to veteran entrepreneurs who want to start up new businesses or transition from their military occupation to its civilian equivalent. I want to see new educational opportunities for veterans and their families. These people have so much to offer our communities; let’s encourage them to stay. I will fight for our veterans and their families.
Finally, I will actively support and vote for legislation that promotes Virginia’s economy so we can become the go-to business start-up location on the East Coast! Virginia is lagging behind neighboring states in job growth and economic expansion. This is due to business-crushing taxes and an oppressive regulatory environment. Additionally, policy makers in our government have placed our long-term energy supply at risk with a careless commitment to an agenda-driven climate change theory. I want the creative energy of our citizens to be unfettered so they can prosper. New business means new jobs and new revenue. It means more self-sufficiency and less dependence on government. This is a win for all Virginians. I will fight for a strong, vigorous, diverse economy.
What is the most important issue facing your district, and what is your position on it?
In the 77th District the most significant issue is education. Our children are being left behind. I just saw the recently released standardized test scores from last year. Even in Chesapeake where our school board kept the classrooms open, we saw passing percentages decline up to an average of 35 points in one of our middle schools. This is true across the district; passing percentages declined.
Heavy-handed mask mandates and reduced personal contact with the teachers took a toll on learning with math scores dropping the most, average of 29.6 points city wide. Most private schools in the area remained open for fulltime, in-person learning with many having less stringent masking policies. We cannot afford another school year with mask mandates and distance learning for our public schools. We have to make funds available for summer work to get our students back on track. Math and literacy skills are essential tools for success in life. We must confirm our investment in the young people who are our future.
What is your position on Virginia’s overall response to the coronavirus pandemic, and what might you have done differently?
One thing we must be careful about with a question like this is we must evaluate the past events in context. We know a lot now we did not know then. We know now the death figures being presented to us were grossly inflated and painted a much more dire picture than was warranted. We also know now that people with robust immune systems were not affected by the virus even though they were exposed. Natural immunity is the best defense against infection.
We know now there are and were several proven remedies for the infection already available, which were systematically discredited by the CDC and NIH only to have their prohibitions rescinded late in year after the election. We know now very, very few children were affected by the virus. We also know now how devastating it is for children to be forced to wear masks and to be quarantined away from others. We know now the vaccines that were rushed through an approval process are dangerous, and without long-term studies on efficacy and safety, we really do not fully understand the long-term implications for those who chose to follow the government recommendations.
The response of the government of Virginia to the challenges presented by the coronavirus was a train wreck. Our governor is a physician, and while his training is not in virology or epidemiology, his willingness to accept at face value the judgement and recommendations of the CDC and NIH is disturbing, especially when there was so much information from the medical and scientific community that contradicted the “official” position. His use of “emergency powers” was grossly overdone and, in my opinion, he is responsible for the crises that ensued with our economy and in our classrooms. Governors in other states responded much more promptly and responsibly, and in those states the effect of the contagion was less damaging to the economy and the children in the schools.
Additionally, the state government failed in their responsibility to quickly distribute the vaccine(s) when they became available to the populations most desperately in need of them. The Virginia unemployment insurance program failed the population in that they were completely unprepared to respond to the increased demand for compensation and for payments. In many cases, it took months for people in desperate need to receive their checks.
I understand the need for the governor to be able to act quickly to a crisis, and emergency measures are sometimes appropriate; however, the unilateral extension of such measures, especially after new information becomes available, must be curtailed. I want to see the legislature involved in the resolution of long-term crises and will propose or support legislation that requires the Virginia General Assembly to approve extensions to emergency declarations after 30 days.
Additionally, since Virginia is a sovereign Commonwealth, we have the authority and responsibility to act in the manner best suited to Virginians, which may not line up with what is being promoted by the federal government. For public health emergencies, this requires a robust, independent, scientific and medical advisory capability in place to advise the governor and senior leadership of the Virginia General Assembly.
Finally, fear and panic have no place in the decision-making process of government. Decisions based on emotional reactions are seldom the best decisions. Certainly, political considerations must never influence the ultimate decisions in emergency situations. I believe bipartisan consensus should be sought and achieved among the governor and principal leaders of the Virginia General Assembly. While that may never be possible in the real world, the effort must be made, and the deliberations must be transparent to the citizens. We have learned a lot from the mistakes of last year; we must ensure we incorporate the lessons learned so the cure does not kill or maim the patient next time.
What are the top three issues created by the coronavirus pandemic in your district, and how would you plan to address them?
1. The top issue created by the contagion is the limitations imposed on in-person schooling. Now that we have the results of the SOL testing from the last school year, we can see in a very real way the devastation wrought by the government’s response to the virus. Masks and distance learning clearly impacted many of our students in a very negative way. For some, virtually an entire year was lost. That time can only be made up by giving the children opportunities to do the work. That means extended hours in each school day, and that means an extended school year. No one wants to hear that, but that is the reality we face. Graduating seniors whose academic resumes are insufficient to support the rigors of a college curriculum should be given the opportunity to retake their senior year. Funds need to be made available for additional teacher hours and for college-level subject matter tutors. We have to find a way to give the teachers time away from the classroom, too.
2. The next issue is the shutdown of businesses. While some businesses were able to survive because of emergency relief funding, others failed outright. Now, the legislature has approved an increase in gasoline taxes, as well as other tax hikes, just when business owners are struggling to get back online and to recover their place in the market. Rather than making it more difficult for businesses to make their come back, we should be helping by lowering taxes and reducing the regulatory demands. Additionally, one challenge many businesses are facing these days is the lack of labor. Where are all the people who were employed before the virus showed up from China? Why have they not returned to the workplace? Why are there so many “help wanted” or “now hiring” signs in our communities? It is because people are being paid to not return to work. The emergency unemployment payments to people who lost their jobs created a huge problem by creating an entirely new dependency on government support. The lax environment that existed during the virus scare, in which the newly unemployed were not required to actively seek new employment, cannot continue. Pre-crisis unemployment standards must be restored so people have an incentive to return to work. This is not a popular position, but the reactivation of the business sector, especially for small and medium-size business depends on a supply of qualified labor.
3. The third issue is the fear-mongering by Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration and the subsequent isolation people felt compelled to endure. Numerous states in our country dealt with the virus scare in a manner much different than Virginia, including Florida, South Dakota, and Texas. Schools stayed open, businesses were allowed to continue operating, and masking was optional. In Virginia the government-mandated shutdown in both the public and private sector was devastating. We have the availability of vaccines now, but many refuse to take them. People do not have to wear masks now, but many continue to do so. Why? Because people are afraid. They are afraid to trust the government regarding the vaccine and they are afraid to go outside without a mask for fear of infection. I see people alone in their car wearing a mask, people walking outside, with no one around, wearing a mask. They are afraid. They are afraid to get sick, and they are afraid of the remedy! Fear creates stress, and fear causes people to make bad decisions. We have to do something to restore faith in our Virginia government, and we have to get the truth out about this virus and the many effective prevention measures and treatment methods that are available. We are going to have this virus and its off-shoots forever now, and we are all probably going to end up getting it. Many countries in the world are now treating it like they would a serious common cold. Yes, many people have died from the effects of the virus; it can be very dangerous, but we know a lot more now than we did before, and it is not as bad as it was supposed to be. We need honesty and integrity in government and in the media.