Tris­tan Shields

Rappahannock News - - VOT­ERS GUIDE • COURT­HOUSE ROW -

Age: 34 Per­sonal in­for­ma­tion:

Sig­nif­i­cant other – Stephanie Monasky, no kids (yet)

Why are you run­ning for del­e­gate?

Seiz­ing op­por­tu­nity and not wait­ing for things to drop in my lap is how I live my life. It’s why af­ter grad­u­at­ing from col­lege, I moved to Mem­phis, TN and worked as an en­ter­tainer, ac­tor and singer play­ing mu­sic in clubs on Beale Street. It’s why I au­di­tioned for NBC’s The Voice, beat­ing out 100,000 other hope­fuls and went to Los Angeles, CA, to be on TV’s most pop­u­lar re­al­ity show. It’s also why I de­cided to move back to the Pied­mont to start my own me­dia busi­ness. And now, it’s why I’m run­ning for Vir­ginia State Del­e­gate here in Dis­trict 18. We need new and bet­ter lead­er­ship in Rich­mond. Rural Vir­gini­ans are not be­ing rep­re­sented in the state­house. I’m the only can­di­date in the 18th Dis­trict who’s not a trans­plant.

Health­care has been a ma­jor topic of dis­cus­sion for years now, should Vir­ginia opt into Med­i­caid and if they don’t are they los­ing out on fed­eral dol­lars?

We are giv­ing away mil­lions of dol­lars ev­ery day we don’t ex­pand Med­i­caid. $10.4 bil­lion to date. That money is go­ing to other states so that their cit­i­zens get the health­care that over 400,000 Vir­gini­ans need. This is not fis­cally re­spon­si­ble. At the same time, we need to be smart about ex­pand­ing Med­i­caid and be ready for what­ever form of TrumpCare ar­rives at our doorstep, as­sum­ing Repub­li­cans in Congress can get their act to­gether. We need to re­think health­care, es­pe­cially for women. Whether it’s Med­i­caid, Medi­care or TrumpCare, ac­cess to af­ford­able health­care is cru­cial for fam­i­lies and women of all ages.

What can be done to drive more in­dus­try to the area and what is the best use of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment dol­lars in Dis­trict 18?

Forbes re­cently re­ported that “Over 62% of mil­len­ni­als have con­sid­ered start­ing their own busi­ness, with 72% feel­ing that star­tups and en­trepreneurs are a nec­es­sary eco­nomic force for cre­at­ing jobs and driv­ing in­no­va­tion.” On the flip side, the self-em­ploy­ment rate among work­ers 65+ is the high­est of any age group in Amer­ica (15.5%). To en­cour­age our mil­len­nial ta­lent to stay in Dis­trict 18 and to help our baby boomers re­tire into entrepreneurship we need poli­cies that re­flect th­ese re­al­i­ties. We also need to en­sure that our peo­ple have the skill set that lo­cal busi­nesses re­quire and en­trepreneurs can ac­quire. We need skills train­ing for our vet­er­ans, our young peo­ple, and our tran­si­tion­ing adults. The com­mu­nity colleges which serve the 18th are Lord Fair­fax and Ger­manna. My own brother, Rory, grad­u­ated from Lord Fair­fax in War­ren­ton. Im­prov­ing and sup­port­ing ca­reer de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties through lo­cal com­mu­nity colleges will be an­other pri­or­ity in my first term.

Broad­band ac­cess in rural parts of the dis­trict is lim­ited, what leg­is­la­tion can be passed to help im­prove ac­cess for those who may want to telecom­mute?

Liv­ing in Rix­eyville, I know all about fair ac­cess, high cost and bad con­nec­tions. Ac­cess to af­ford­able, high qual­ity Broad­band is a topic close to my heart. It is es­sen­tial to grow the rural econ­omy in Dis­trict 18 and to keep our ta­lent here. Ac­cess needs to in­crease, prices need to come down. Many of us in Dis­trict 18 re­ceive our power from Rap­pa­han­nock Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive. Rural elec­tric co­op­er­a­tives (REC) are one of the most suc­cess­ful pub­lic/pri­vate busi­ness ini­tia­tives in the his­tory of the United States. We need an in­ter­net ver­sion of that suc­cess story if we want to keep peo­ple from moving away from the 18th Dis­trict. Mak­ing af­ford­able broad­band avail­able for ev­ery Vir­ginian will be a pri­or­ity in my first term.

The heroin epi­demic has been detri­men­tal to our com­mu­nity, what leg­is­la­tion can be passed to help com­bat the epi­demic?

Opi­oid ad­dic­tion is a huge prob­lem. Over 1,420 Vir­gini­ans died of a drug over­dose in 2016, and the emo­tional and eco­nomic drain is es­pe­cially hard on rural com­mu­ni­ties. I see a two-step ap­proach: First, Preven­tion: 80% of opi­oid ad­dic­tions start with a pre­scrip­tion. We need to in­crease our abil­ity to shut down “Pill Mills” and over-pre­scribers. We can do that by stream­lin­ing and strength­en­ing the un­der used and con­fus­ing Pre­scrip­tion Mon­i­tor­ing Sys­tem we cur­rently have in Vir­ginia. Se­cond, In­ter­ven­tion: We need to view this epi­demic like the health cri­sis it is, both phys­i­cally and men­tally. That means treat­ing peo­ple like pa­tients rather than crim­i­nals.

What makes you the best op­tion for del­e­gate?

I know how hard it is to be an en­tre­pre­neur in this area. Young peo­ple leave and rarely come back. We need to keep our ta­lent here by ex­pand­ing op­por­tu­nity. I am one of the few younger peo­ple in this re­gion who came back to run a busi­ness. It’s a pri­mary rea­son why I de­cided to run for po­lit­i­cal of­fice. I have been in the mu­sic busi­ness dur­ing the most tu­mul­tuous time ever for that in­dus­try. Technology and chang­ing dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tems have com­pletely dis­placed a gen­er­a­tion of cre­ative pro­fes­sion­als. Learn­ing to pivot, bounce back, fail, try new things are all es­sen­tial skills nec­es­sary to live and lead to­day. I know how to be a leader and make things hap­pen.

To­day’s dis­rup­tive econ­omy and un­cer­tain­ties de­mands lead­ers who see op­por­tu­ni­ties among the fog and have the courage to act. Think­ing and act­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively, learn­ing fast, and keep­ing the peo­ple of the Pied­mont first is what makes me the best op­tion for Del­e­gate.

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