Posted on October 18th, 2015
CATEGORY: Candidates for Virginia Senate
Answer: Dave Belote
Question: Who is the best candidate in District 8?
Belote, a retired Air Force colonel and five-time Jeopardy winner, is seeking the seat Sen. Jeff McWaters is vacating: a district that stretches from Virginia Beach’s North End to Pungo and Sandbridge.
Belote is a Democrat, and the district is decidedly Republican, but he, more than his opponent, has the potential to become a leader in the General Assembly and champion policies that would serve the best interests of Virginians.
Belote, who grew up in Kempsville, is a former fighter pilot who commanded combat operations in Iraq, was the third-ranked colonel in the Pentagon and base commander at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. He encourages investment in renewable energy, having written energy policy for the deputy undersecretary of defense and worked as vice president of a wind and solar developer.
He’s overseen a $600 million budget; he has a record as a problem-solver.
Belote supports taking federal money to expand Medicaid in Virginia, figuring out ways to offer more early-childhood education and to invest in schools. He wants to reform the tax code by closing loopholes.
Shifting the drawing of political districts to an independent redistricting commission to curb gerrymandering is “my most fervent hope,” he said.
In contrast, Del. Bill DeSteph, a Republican who is finishing his first term in the House after seven years on the Virginia Beach City Council, said the legislature should continue to handle redistricting. “I think they’re very well balanced,” he said, adding that the Hampton Roads delegation is “pretty happy with the way” the districts are drawn.
DeSteph, a Navy veteran, served in Desert Storm and then as a naval special-warfare intelligence officer before owning and managing a defense technology firm. While representing the 82nd House district, he pushed through a bill allowing electronic voting for deployed military.
His first transportation priority is expanding the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. He adamantly opposes expanding Medicaid, wants every tax break to have a sunset clause, and said he wants to study the possibility of eliminating the state income tax and replacing it with a consumption tax. DeSteph also favors eliminating some of the Standards of Learning exams in public schools but balks at money as the answer to education needs. “We’ve given more money for education every year for the past three years,” he said.
DeSteph said his goal is to create an environment for businesses and families to thrive, but Belote has a stronger grasp on how to do that. He deserves to go to the Virginia Senate.