Hannah Long, News Editor • email@example.com
Anthony Flaccavento held the grand opening to his new campaign headquarters, Tuesday, March 6.
The new office is located directly across the street from the Abingdon Courthouse. Flaccavento is attempting to win the Democratic nomination for the 9th congressional district of Virginia.
Flaccavento is an organic farmer and business owner from Abingdon.
He hopes to build common ground with Independents and Republicans, saying his job outside of politics “for the last 32 years” has included working with farmers and small businesses for economic development.
“That’s a pretty non-Democratic crowd for the most part,” he said. “So I think I’ve got this foundation that most Democrats don’t typically have to build on.”
Part of that common ground, he said, could be “figur[ing] out how to diversify every one of these local economies,” criticizing “rhetoric [which]…says there’s a war on coal being waged by environmentalists…the fact is, there’s very little coal left in the United States….We have to be investing in new businesses, new infrastructure. And there’s some amazing manufacturers in Southwest Virginia if we invest in them.”
Flaccavento said, “Working people, school teachers, coal miners, ordinary folks, and millennials have just not been getting a fair shake. The playing field has been getting more and more and more uneven over the last generation and what I talk about is leveling the playing field. For workers, for farmers, for community banks, for women, for students and millennials.”
On student debts, he said, “People think there’s no solution to these problems” but highlighted policies he thought would alleviate the issue, including the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Act and the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) program. Flaccavento said the latter policy “could scale student debts to family’s ability to pay.”
According to Forbes, President Trump’s budget proposal seeks to eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Act. His budget also makes changes to the PAYE program, raising the amount students would be required to pay (from 10% of discretionary income to 12.5%), but shortening the amount of time before loan forgiveness to 15 years.
The Flaccavento campaign has been working to reach out to young people, hosting a Youth Summit on March 17. The event, which was held on the Virginia Tech campus, featured a panel of guest speakers including Emory & Henry SGA President Jordan Smith.
If Flaccavento wins the Democratic nomination, this will be his second attempt to defeat Republican incumbent U.S. Rep Morgan Griffith. Campaign Manager Martin Mash said, “I think it’s a different political environment, we’re getting started earlier. Taking in experience from the previous run.”