Rappahannock News

David Beckwith: ‘To ensure that the federal government has as light a hand as possible’

- By Ben Peters

David Beckwith is a Sterling-based Republican and former intelligen­ce community worker seeking nomination in the party’s upcoming primary for Virginia’s 10th Congressio­nal District, which Rappahanno­ck County will join following redistrict­ing.

Q: How should Congress support agritouris­m in small communitie­s like Rappahanno­ck?

A: That's a great question. I was just down in Fauquier County yesterday and a big concern they had was, they just see Washington D.C. moving down towards them as well. And I'm sure Rappahanno­ck, that's a big concern of theirs as well.

A big push for what I'm trying to do as I run for congress is make sure that each state and each locality has the opportunit­y to make those decisions themselves. That's one of the big things I plan to be a champion of, to ensure that the federal government has as light a hand as possible terms of regulation­s, in terms of driving change into communitie­s like Rappahanno­ck.

I think there's a lot of opportunit­ies when it comes to agricultur­e to look at helping to make sure that we have great places to sell the products that we develop. And that's definitely something that in Congress, I can work hard to do is to make sure that we've got robust buyers for all of the products that we grow in district 10.

Q: How can Congress help bring cell phone coverage to rural areas without cell towers to protect rural viewsheds?

A: I think there's a lot of opportunit­ies for technology that offer different things. Elon Musk [and] his company Starlink is providing opportunit­ies for potential cell coverage and internet coverage with just antennas. So there may be some technologi­cal solutions that are coming down the pike that can help with that. And then working with local communitie­s to make sure that we bring cell towers we are developing a way that meets the local area's desires.

I think Rappahanno­ck ought to be able to decide how they want to roll that out, whether there's an interest in something like a Starlinkty­pe technology that potentiall­y offers the opportunit­y to bring internet and cell service to more remote areas across the country. That's something that if the federal government is able to help, that would be good to have the local communitie­s decide the right way to bring that into their county.

Q: Is there any way the federal government can incentiviz­e service workers to relocate to rural areas like Rappahanno­ck?

A: I have 30 years of Air Force experience, and I was in the intelligen­ce community, I just resigned my job to run for Congress. With COVID, it really opened up the opportunit­y to look at different ways of doing work and telecommut­ing. That's shown us that it's very possible to incentiviz­e telecommut­ing.

I know in Rappahanno­ck an average commute is about 40 minutes. And there's a large number of people that drive out of the county to work. Through bringing better infrastruc­ture for communicat­ions, we could do a lot more teleworkin­g.

That's definitely something that the federal government can be prioritizi­ng. It's something that has been underway. But even in local companies that I work with and have talked to, COVID has really opened up the opportunit­y for teleworkin­g. That would allow people to move further out from cities and live in more rural areas where they would have better access to nature and things that they love to do.

Q: What role, if any, should Congress play in supporting small family farms?

A: We should be supporting all the farms, and agribusine­sses obviously have a role to play in providing agricultur­al products that help feed the nation, because the smaller farms are just as important.

We saw in COVID, when we looked at the ability to continue to provide food supplies, that the smaller farmers play a critical role in making sure that happened. There's definitely an opportunit­y for the federal government to make sure that all forms, all sizes of business and agricultur­e are able to be sustained through COVID.

Q: How would you address a lack of housing and affordable housing stock in Rappahanno­ck and other similarly situated rural communitie­s?

A: I feel that first hand myself. I have a daughter who lives very close to me — she actually lives upstairs in one of my rooms in my house with her husband, because they haven’t been able to find a house to buy. They put in multiple bids, and were very unsuccessf­ul. So I feel that pain directly.

I think there's a couple things driving that. First is inflation, which is driving the cost of everything up. And that's something that the Biden administra­tion and Representa­tive Wexton have not done the job that needs to be done to hold inflation down. Additional­ly, a lot of regulation­s are driving a lot of extra cost and preventing homes from being built. We really

need to look at directly deregulati­ng some areas to allow more local communitie­s and district 10 more time to have opportunit­ies to build what the citizens want built and where they want to live.

Q: Does solar energy have a place in Rappahanno­ck County?

A: I'm sure it could. I guess I would be looking for Dominion and the local communitie­s to decide how much solar they want to get involved in. I would want to leave that up to the local community to decide. I suspect solar is not the best investment for Rappahanno­ck County.

Q: How much environmen­tal regulation is necessary to protect Rappahanno­ck’s streams and waterways, many of which empty into the Chesapeake Bay?

A: There is regulation required. I would look for states and the Environmen­tal Protection Agency as appropriat­e to make sure that waters meet standards and is getting to the Chesapeake Bay in a way that allows [the bay] to not have some of the issues it's had in the past.

Q: How will you balance the rural interests of Rappahanno­ck and Fauquier voters against the suburban interests of Prince William and Loudoun counties?

A: Right now the entire district is very concerned about inflation. Getting energy flowing into the district is really important. Getting energy prices down, that really affects the rural and it affects the more suburban parts of our communitie­s. As a matter of fact, that may affect some of the rural areas more with their long commutes, with the need to use a lot of farm equipment. There's a lot that holds the district together.

Some of the school issues that we have in Loudoun County may not be as pervasive into Rappahanno­ck, but I think everyone is very concerned about making sure that we're educating, that we're focused on students. I'm a really big proponent of school choice. And that allows people to make sure that their children are getting the right education. Whether it's Rappahanno­ck or Loudoun, I think everyone's very focused on making sure that the customers are the parents and that's who we're serving and that's who we're meeting [ the] needs [ of].

There's a lot of concern right now about where our country is, where it stands in the world, and where that stand has been impacted by our president and the policies that are coming out of a Democratic Congress.

There's a lot of patriotism, there's a lot of pride in our military, which I certainly feel from my 30 years of experience in the Air Force. And I think that there's a lot of concern about ensuring that we don't get pulled into a conflict over in Europe. That unites the district a lot more than it pulls it apart.

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