I N D E X   P A G E S:
Note: The following speech is unedited material supplied by the Beyer campaign.
Beyer Accepts Democratic Gubernatorial NominationMay 10, 1997
I'm ready! I'm ready to lead, I'm ready to run, and I'm ready to win!
I've been getting ready for a long time, long time. I grew up in a racing family. I've got photos of my father racing an old Ford on the beach at Daytona. Every Saturday, my father dragged me to a different track.
Every time we moved, we had to request hone numbers with the number 73, my dad's old race car number.
The house I lived in from 3rd grade to 12th grade had one bathroom for eight people -- but we had a three-car garage.
Now it's finally time to crank it up, put the pedal to the metal, and let it all hang out for the checkered flag on November 4th.
I've been getting ready for a long time. Race car drivers don't have any sharper eyesight than regular drivers -- they just look farther down the road.
I am looking far down Virginia's roads -- and can see clearly where we need to steer our Commonwealth. I can see clearly that our greatest responsibility is to make Virginia's schools the best in the nation.
I can see clearly that Virginia must become the worst place to commit a crime, and the smartest state in preventing crime in the first place.
I can see clearly that small businesses drive our economy -- we've got to make Virginia a great place to start and grow businesses and new jobs.
I'm a businessman. I wasn't born this way. In fact, I was just your regular Army brat. We didn't have much money. A military salary doesn't go far, spread over six children.
But then, in 1973, a wondrous thing happened. My parents scraped together just enough money to buy a small automobile dealership.
It was pretty slow at first: They had a handful of employees. The oil embargo was in full swing. They had just one used car on the showroom floor.
At Christmas that year, I remember seeing my father's hands shake.
That May, 23 years ago this week, I came home. I had plans to be a doctor, I'd even gotten into medical school.
But first I needed a summer job, $3 an hour, driving the only parts truck we owned.
By the end of the summer, I'd been the bookkeeper, then gone into sales. I'd even become a certified auto mechanic.
Managing that small business took six days and five nights a week, every week, and meant going by the store to check everything out every Sunday after church. It was hard.
Snow closed the place for about 10 days one winter -- how were we going to meet payroll? Computers got hit by lightning.
Our top salesman quit, our best mechanic left searching for greener pastures. (He came back.)
But always, every day, faithfully, I did my best to keep moving that family business forward.
Ours is a family business. My sister Kathy, blessed with a mental retardation disability, works there. My nephews John and Jordy work there. My brother Michael is the president and my partner.
My father checks in twice a day. My son was the hardest working parts truck driver we've ever had. And all those whose last names aren't Beyer still believe they are part of our family. And they're right.
I want our business to last 100 years. I want our children and grandchildren to run this business. And this 100 year perspective affects every decision I make.
I must choose the long-term over the short-term future growth over today's easy profit.
Virginia is a family business -- our family business.
As we lead Virginia, we must choose the future over today's cheap gimmick principle over politics what's right over what's wrong.
That means putting education first. Education fulfills us. Knowledge makes us powerful. Learning helps us to be responsible citizens and productive workers.
We must make Virginia's schools the best in the country.
I can see clearly how we get there from here.
Down the road I can see a Virginia where children are active, engaged and interested in what's going on in the classroom -- where disruptive kids are effectively disciplined or moved to a more appropriate setting.
How can we let one kid who insists on rowdy or unruly behavior destroy the educational experience for all the rest?
I believe no teacher and no student should ever be afraid to go into a classroom.
I can see Virginia schools where no child is passed on to the next grade just because summer has arrived.
It's time to end social promotion in Virginia.
It's fundamentally unfair to our students and to our taxpayers to let kids fail without consequences.
We need real accountability, and it begins with requiring summer school, after-school and tutoring for students who need it to meet academic demands and real-world challenges.
I can see clearly Virginia teachers with much higher standards for their academic backgrounds. We want the best math students to be our math teachers. I want somebody excited about language teaching English to my girls.
To attract and keep the best teachers, we need a Professional Teachers Standard Board, just like the Virginia Bar and the Virginia Medical Society.
And we need to pay our teachers competitive salaries.
I see smaller class sizes, one teacher for every 15 students, in every kindergarten, first, and second grade class in Virginia so that our students will get the individual attention they need.
Down the road, I can see every at-risk 4-year-old in a preschool program, so they can come to school ready to learn.
When I was a kid, I had a bad hand and bad eyes. I was picked last for every game we played in school and I was the only kid who struck out at kickball.
So I started reading everything I could get my hands on. Books saved me.
I can see a bold commitment to learning to read, where no child slips through the cracks and they'll read to learn for the rest of their lives.
I see Virginia's high schools that remember not every student is going to college -- and provide the technical and vocational education to be mechanics and computer technicians and carpenters and cooks.
Down the road, I can see the opportunity to provide a half-million Virginia adults who dropped out after ninth-grade help to get a GED.
A few years ago, in the family business, I encouraged a woman, 60 years old, who had worked there for years to continue her education.
Edith was Grand Esther of the Order of the Eastern Star and she wanted to improve her public speaking.
When I set her up to go to community college, she burst into tears and said, "No one ever thought I could go to college."
Today almost 300,000 Virginia students go to college. I can see clearly a deep Virginia commitment to higher education, to affordable tuition, to top faculty, and to world-class colleges and universities.
This is our economic future.
I can see clearly that Virginia must be the toughest state and the smartest state in the nation in fighting crime.
I see no retreat in the abolition of parole for violent offenders.
I can see zero tolerance for drug dealers, who poison our children and destroy our future.
I can see ever tougher laws against stalkers and child beaters and all those who commit violence against women and children.
I can see clearly Virginia with a strong public community notification requirement, so neighbors know when a convicted sex offender moves into their neighborhoods.
Down the road, I can see a true Virginia commitment to turning off the violence before it begins.
We need more community policing, for the evidence is overwhelming: The best way to cut crime is to put more police -- visible -- on our streets.
I can see clearly stronger efforts to fight teenage pregnancy -- and after-school programs, so that when classes end, kids have someplace to go other than to drugs and streets and gangs.
I see us act on the knowledge that it is high school dropouts who fill our prisons. I will personally lead the crusade to cut Virginia's dropout rate in half.
Good schools and safe communities help our family businesses grow. But still we need an economy in which we can prosper.
I've driven through communities in Virginia where store after store is boarded up. I've seen the small towns decimated by rural flight.
I know many people who have lost their jobs to downsizing -- and I can see clearly that Virginia must become the best state anywhere to start and grow our businesses and new jobs.
I see a Virginia where small businesses are exempt from the corporate income tax, so they can plow their profits back into new jobs.
I can see clearly that worker retraining can fill 18,000 high-tech jobs -- and that's why I led creation of a tax credit for training your workers.
Down the road, I can see an expanded small business growth fund where entrepreneurs can get the financing they need.
I can see clearly that older folks on fixed incomes and families with children need relief from the sales tax on non-prescription drugs.
I see a Virginia where the people are moving off welfare into good jobs that we worked with Virginia businesses to create.
And I can see a Virginia where we have the best roads and ports and airports by getting our fair share of federal funding and by making public-private partnerships come alive.
When I turned 30, I went to racing school for three days. I've never had so much fun.
But hurtling down the straight-away at 130 mph, I was very aware of how one poor judgment, one jerk of the steering wheel could spell disaster.
What I've proposed is a responsible course for Virginia: targeted tax cuts -- that we can afford -- that will stimulate the economy and provide relief for people who need it most.
We can do that -- and still meet our challenges for better schools, safer communities and growing businesses.
As Virginia hurtles into the future, my opponent is pushing a reckless and irresponsible scheme on the people of Virginia.
Let me tell you something, as a businessman who's dealt with contracts all my life -- read the fine print.
The plan he unveiled on Thursday would take Virginia on a dangerous course: one that threatens our schools, law enforcement and the stability of local governments.
It will handcuff Virginia's ability to deal with the future. And it's a declaration of war on public education.
It's the worst of modern political life -- the choice of political expediency over careful stewardship, personal ambition over a child's future.
There is so much we have to do. Our best days still lie ahead.
Down the road, I see clearly, a Virginia where we enforce the environmental laws, we clean up our rivers, and where our ever cleaner environment is good for business growth.
I can see a Virginia where women still have a right to choose.
I can see a state where every Virginian with a disability has the opportunity to live and work independently.
I will be your governor.
I see a campaign where everyone in this room is filled with energy and guts to change the minds of the last few Virginia voters.
This is a grassroots campaign of people, by people and for people. Your 30 phone calls mean more than any 30-second TV spot.
Down the road, I see a business leader for the 21st Century as our lieutenant governor -- my great friend L.F. Payne.
I see clearly how different life will be when Virginia's best attorney is our attorney general -- Bill Dolan.
And down the road, I can see that the legacy of good governors -- Chuck Robb and Gerry Baliles and Doug Wilder -- will be honored and fulfilled in the next four to eight to 12 years.
God has been so good to me: Megan, Donnie, Stephanie, Clara and Grace, my parents, siblings, Megan's family -- and today, especially, every one of you.
From Evelyn Bacon in Jonesville to Margaret Rhea in Fairfax and to Josephine Marshall in South Boston. From Melanese Hutchinson in Norfolk, to Al Smith in Winchester and to the Rev. Roscoe Cooper a few blocks from here -- you are my family.
Virginia's future is my business. I want to be your Education Governor.
Business sense -- common sense.
Ladies and Gentlemen -- start your engines.
I proudly accept your nomination to be Virginia's next Governor.
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