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Mark L. Earley
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Virginia Politics
Mark L. Earley (R)
Candidate for Governor

Tuesday, July 3, 2001

Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark L. Earley will discuss campaign issues and his plans for the Nov. 6 election against Mark R. Warner (D).

Earley practiced law before becoming state senator, where he fought for reform in areas such as welfare and juvenile justice. Former state attorney general Earley also created an Asian-American Advisory Board, advocated safer communities, advanced technology and education reform among other platforms. What is his strategy for winning the gubernatorial race?

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

Transcript follows:


washingtonpost.com: Thanks for joining us today, Mark Earley. To start, can you give us some background as to why you're running for governor, and what challenges you face between now and November?

Mark L. Earley: Thanks for having us online today. The Internet has afforded us a great opportunity to stay in touch with people and to get them involved in the political process and we appreciate this opportunity.

I got interested in government and politics 23 years ago when I was living in the Philippines. I lived there from 1977 to 1979 and was involved in campus ministry in the University of the Philippines. During that time, Marcos was still president, and there was an increasing amount of political instability. He had declared martial law some years earlier; had placed his only serious rival for presidency under house arrest, and was ruling by presidential decree. During that period of time, I "woke up" and realized that all of the tremendous freedoms, liberties and opportunities that we enjoy in this nation do not rise like the sun on the rest of the world every day.

Students at the University of the Philippines would say things to me like, "Mark, what is it like to be able to live in America, to meet on a college campus, to talk about government, to discuss politics without having to worry about the government being there taking name?

Mark L. Earley: Seeing the desire for freedom and opportunity in the eyes of those Filipino students led me to two conclusions. First, as great as America is, we are a nation like any other nation in the sense that our future is yet to be written. We can move forward and embrace the concepts of equality, the sanctity and dignity of human life, the importance of individual liberties, and the opportunity for all our citizens to pursue their opportunities for happiness. Or we neglect those principles and preside over the decline of freedom and liberty in America.

The second conclusion was that whether we move forward on these issues depends upon whether or not there is in each generation a passionate recommitment to the core principles this nation was founded upon. I believe those principles are best summed up in the document which we are about to celebrate tomorrow -- the Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among them of which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

At the most fundamental and personal level for me, that is why I am asking the people of Virginia to give me the opportunity to serve as their next governor.

As Virginians, we have an unparalleled opportunity at the dawn of the new century, the edge of a new millenium, and standing in the shadow of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. That opportunity is to rekindle a passion for the core principles of equality, life, liberty, and the opportunity for all of our citizens to pursue their happiness. I believe if we can do that, Virginia can reclaim its destiny, which is to be the leader of this nation.

The theme of our campaign is "The Promise of Virginia." That promise is embodied in those words of the Declaration of Independence, which many of us will hear sometime this week as we celebrate the 225th anniversary of this nation. My goal as governor is to advance that promise of equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for every man, woman and child in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

NoVa: What will you do to repair relations with Maryland? Gilmore and Glendening have let their personal differences interrupt what should be a strong relationship, esp. given the shared priorities of the Washington metropolitan region and the Potomac and Chesapeake watersheds.

Mark L. Earley: Great question! Maryland and Virginia need to get along better. There are some great opportunities for us to improve the relationship we have with Maryland, which will be of tremendous benefit to all Virginians, but to particularly to Northern Virginians. Yesterday, we began construction on the Wilson Bridge, a vital transportation link between Maryland and Virginia. It is a good example of the kind of progress that can be made when we work together. As Attorney General I was privileged to have the opportunity to help clear the legal hurdles, allowing for timely construction of this project.

Key to developing a better relationship with Maryland is to develop strong personal relationships with the governmental, business, and community leaders in Maryland. I believe a governor can provide significant leadership on this and I intend to do so. Together, we can make continued progress in the region by reducing traffic congestion, nurturing growth in the technology sector, achieving excellence in education, preserving the environment, and fostering economic growth and development.

Richmond, Va.: You recently announced your agenda for K-12 public schools. How will your plan benefit Virginia's school children?

Mark L. Earley: As the father of six children, five of whom are of school age, and all attending the public schools of Virginia, I have not only a policy interest in education, but a strong personal stake as well. I am the only candidate for governor who has attended the public schools of Virginia, and whose children currently attend the public schools of Virginia. My goal is to make our educational system in Virginia the best in the nation and to create opportunities for educational excellence available to all of Virginia's families.

I have announced our educational program, which is called "Virginia's B.E.S.T," which stands for Building Excellent Students and Teachers. Part of that plan is outlined below. To build excellent students we plan to:

1. Reduced class sizes.
My goal is to reduce class sizes in targeted elementary grade levels in order to provide more individual attention for students in those critical early years.

2. Increase parental involvement.
Clearly schools that do best are schools which foster opportunities for strong parental involvement with the schools and their students. I will encourage more parental involvement with our schools and our children by holding up as examples, schools which have fostered greater opportunities for parental involvement and parents who are models in their dedication and commitment.

3. Recruiting mentors.
As Attorney General, one of my main goals was to recruit mentors to work with Virginia's children. Our program "Virginia's Future - building up the first generation of the new century," which I began in 1999 has recruited more than 4,000 mentors. We have now combined our efforts with those of Colin Powell at "America's Promise" in order to make Virginia a state of promise. As governor, I have pledged to recruit 21,000 mentors during my first year in office and to plug them into existing organizations and programs such as the Boys Club and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, 4-H Leadership programs, after-school tutoring programs and school lunch-buddy programs. I believe this is a tremendous untapped resource to enable our children to grow in character and academic achievement.

4. Creating education opportunities.
I also want to create educational opportunities particularly for the children of families who may not have the financial resources to access those opportunities on their own. My plan for Virginia is to give tax credits to individuals or corporations who contribute financially to educational scholarship programs. The educational scholarship program will have as its sole mission to provide scholarships to the children of such families to enable those parents to access educational opportunities for their children such as computer equipment, personal tutoring services, or schools which can provide for the particular needs of their children.

For teachers, our goals are as follows:

1. Raise teachers' salaries to the national average.
Over the next four years, it will be my goal to raise teachers' salaries in the Commonwealth to the national average.

2. Addressing the teacher shortage.
My plan is to create a new exciting and aggressive program in the high schools of Virginia that will encourage high school students to pursue a career in teaching. Additionally, I want to expand the Virginia Teaching Scholarship Loan Program, which will provide more educational loans and scholarships for those who desire to pursue a career in education.

3. Freeing teachers to teach.
My goal is to reduce the amount of time teachers have to spend doing unnecessary paper work, which keeps them from their core mission and goal of teaching. In addition, it's important to me that we continue to support our teachers in maintaining order and safety in the classroom.

© Copyright 2001 The Washington Post Company


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