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Jon Bowerbank LIVE BLOGGING here (now finished)

by: Teddy Goodson

Wed Apr 29, 2009 at 11:08:54 AM EDT

UPDATE: Jon Bowerbank has finished the live blog. Read his thorough, frank, and informative answers below.

Jon Bowerbank, Democratic Candidate for Lieutenant Governor will be live blogging here at on May 1st, this Friday, from 10-11 AM.

Jon is from Russell County in Southwestern Virginia, where he is an elected member-at-large of the County Board of Supervisors. He is a very successful businessman, and intends to be a full-time Lt. Governor, not a part-time. Based on his experience in starting up and running small to medium-sized businesses in energy and construction he will concentrate on job creation for Virginians; to quote Jon:

"As Virginia's next Lieutenant Governor, I will transform the office to make it the nexus of a major effort to create the good paying jobs of the future through the development of alternative energy industries and modern infrastructure for the Commonwealth that will employ tens of thousands of Virginians."

Please post your questions for Jon here.

Teddy Goodson :: Jon Bowerbank LIVE BLOGGING here (now finished)
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Full-time Lieutenant Governor?
Thank you for coming on to talk with us.

What do you mean by being a full-time Lt. Gov., how would you accomplish that, and why do you think it's important?

Full Time Lt. Governor
Thank you Teddy for your question-it brings up an important distinction between myself and our current Republican Lt. Governor Bill Bolling. You see, Bill Bolling has said that he is running for re-election because now wasn't a good time in his business for him to run for a full-time office. Well, with all due respect to Bill Bolling, I think that now is a time when we need full-time leaders. We are facing the most challenging economic crisis since the Great Depression. There are 300,000 unemployed Virginians today and that number continues to grow everyday. We have good, hardworking Virginians who are losing their jobs, who are unable to make their mortgage payments and who are losing their retirement money. We need a Lt. Governor who is willing and able to devote themselves fully to creating jobs and transforming our economy for the future. I'm running because I believe that I have the background and expertise to do just that and I'm committed to doing the job 365 days a year, 24 hours a day because that's what Virginians deserve.

Although the Constitution of Virginia only dictates that the Lieutenant Governor spend two months of the year presiding over the Senate-I think that limited time frame actually presents an opportunity for a Lt. Governor with my skillset as a job creator to step up and contribute more to the Commonwealth. After presiding over the Senate for two months that leaves the rest of the year for me to travel all over the Commonwealth, and hopefully all over the country, to meet with and talk to business leaders and workers. And, I will use all of my energy to develop partnerships, recruit and promote opportunity that will create an environment that allows businesses and jobs to start-up, grow, move to Virginia and thrive. Specifically, I will focus on building the alternative and nonconventional energy industries as well as equipping and building for Virginia a modern infrastructure system and improving and investing in our public education system.  

[ Parent ]
Why did you send out a press release claiming you raised $494,000 when over $400,000 came from your own pockets?

I'm committed to my campaign
I have personally contributed a significant amount of money to my campaign. That personal contribution is a testament of my commitment to this race and to bringing new ideas and a fresh perspective to Richmond. I'm proud that my campaign has more cash on hand than either of my opponents--it's indicative of the fact that we will have all of the resources necessary to win the June primary and more importantly the general election in November against Bill Bolling.    

[ Parent ]
Mountaintop Removal
The EPA has halted mountaintop removal permits.  Whether this becomes permanent is unclear.  Where do you stand on the practice of mountaintop removal?  Do you support a moratorium on the practice?  Would you support a permanent ban on that practice?  

"One person, one vote" died at the hands of SCOTUS, January 21, 2010

Mountaintop Removal
I am opposed to the practice of mountaintop removal and I would support moving to end that practice. But, while I'm conscious of the importance of preserving our environmental integrity I'm also mindful of the thousands of jobs that coal extraction provides in Virginia and in considering any new policy I would work to protect those employment opportunities.  

[ Parent ]
Which means what?
The first sentence is a direct answer to the question.  Is the second sentence an equivocation, or just throwing a political bone to Southwest Virginia, lest you seem anti-coal?

Not fussing only at you in this regard...  all politicians do it, and it drives me buggy because it leads to the conclusion that politicians are distinctly uncomfortable with clarity.  

[ Parent ]
Here's what I asked the other LG candidates
In the Democratic primary, what will you do to stand out from the other candidates, and what is your plan to win?  -Thanks

I know how to spur economic development
I've travelled all over the Commonwealth this past year, and everywhere you go the concerns echo loud and clear about the economy. Right now, it's all about jobs, jobs, jobs. And, honestly that's why I'm running. I know how to spur economic development, how to create jobs and how to grow a new energy economy. In fact, I'm the only candidate in this race who has a record of creating jobs and transforming an economic industry in Virginia (the natural gas sector). And, I want to bring that practical real-world business experience to Richmond. My campaign has an aggressive plan to get that message out to voters and so far we've been pleased by the response it's gotten across the Commonwealth. We've obviously got to keep that going strong through June 9th and then we'll continue to hammer it home through November.  

[ Parent ]
Compare yourself with your opponents
Please tell us how or where you differ from your two opponents in the Lt. Gov's race, and why you believe you would make the best Democratic candidate in the general election.  

I have a proven record and experience in creating jobs
 As I mentioned in the previous question, I am the only candidate running with a proven record and experience in creating jobs and growing an industry in Virginia. I've spent my life working in business to develop the alternative energy and infrastructure sectors in Virginia. In challenging economic times, I have the experience and background that Virginia needs to revive its economy and create jobs for the future. And, while this is a distinction from my primary opponents, it's also a major distinction from Bill Bolling. Bill Bolling stood against Virginians and opposed $125 million in funding from the federal government that would have assisted unemployed Virginians and grown our economy. Bill Bolling opposed President Obama's economic stimulus package that provided critical relief funds to Virginia that allowed us to retain over $1 billion dollars for education and healthcare programs. Bill Bolling doesn't get it when it comes to re-energizing our economy and that's a message I'll be able to effectively deliver as the general election Lt. Governor candidate because of my business background and record of creating jobs.

I'm the only Democratic Lt. Governor candidate who's previously put their name on a ballot and been elected.
I'm the only candidate in this race who has come out strongly and completely against drilling off of Virginia's coasts.  

I also bring an important perspective to this race as a father. I have three children, Philip, Sean Tomas and Tori Beth, who are the pride of my life and they are all products of the Virginia public schools. As a result, throughout the years I've been very active in improving and developing our public education system and I will continue to make that a major priority as Lt. Governor. In fact, again, I'm the only candidate who has a proven record of fighting for Virginia's teachers. As a County Supervisor, I fought for and led the push for a greater investment in teacher salaries in Russell County, which led to a 10% increase in teacher pay last year. I've also personally tried to lead as an example for what private and public partnerships should look like between our schools and business community. I've given over $2.5 million dollars for public schools in Southwest Virginia, money that has gone for books, technology, science labs and equipment, recreational facilities and enrichment programs.  I'm proud of that work and it's a legacy I hope to continue as Lt. Governor.  

[ Parent ]
Thanks for the dynamic reply
the best lay-it-on-the-line response on this subject I've heard from any of the candidates so far

[ Parent ]
a question about staff that I asked both of your opponents
how would you use three full-time staff people to which a Lt Gov is entitled, and why?

This is my world and welcome to it

Staff would match my priorities
I've said on the campaign trail that my priorities as Lt. Governor will be to 1) Create jobs and transform and grow our economy towards a new energy future  2) Build a modern infrastructure system in Virginia and 3) Invest and improve our education system.

The roles of my three staff would reflect these priorities. I believe that perhaps the greatest role I can play as Lt. Governor is as an advocate for ideas and as a facilitator for partnerships that in turn produce opportunities for moving Virginia forward. My staff would support my efforts to advocate for these three priorities and they would work respectively to build and harness the energy of partnerships between state, federal and local government, businesses, unions and workers, schools, community leaders, research facilities and non-profits to maximize opportunity throughout Virginia and achieve tangible results.  

[ Parent ]
Nonpartisan Economic Advice
Pardon my ignorance, but do the Governor and the rest of Virginia rely entirely upon the analysis of in-house financial and economic advisors, or is there an independent body to provide counsel and critical analysis of the bureaucrats' projections?  

Nonpartisan Economic Advice
It's my understanding that it is a combination of the two. The Governor and state government rely on outside bodies to analyze and produce certain projections and reports, but state agencies and officials then are responsible for reviewing and analyzing these and may make alterations and changes as they deem necessary. I am by no means an expert on the bureaucratic process of Richmond however-so if a more qualified Blue Commonwealth reader can explain more accurately the process I will defer your question to them.

[ Parent ]
Brings up the question
of reliability, one which bothers a lot of us here on Bluecommonwealth when it comes to jiggering of national BLS statistics. Bad info produces bad decisions. With your business experience you might be able to look into the quality of Virginia's stats and info.  

[ Parent ]
Business background and the economy
Jon, we warmly welcome you to BC.

My question -- like Terry McAuliffe, you have consistently cited your business experience as the reason that you'd be the best choice to help bring the economy back.  

In Virginia, we have the positive example of businessman-turned-politician Mark Warner.  But I can't help thinking about the fact that Herbert Hoover was also a very successful businessman before he became president, and he, to put it nicely, didn't do so hot on managing the economy.  

So how do we know for sure that you'd turn out to be a Warner, not a Hoover?

Business background and the economy
Thank you for your question. First let me say, I consider it a great honor to be even considered in the same vein as Senator Mark Warner and so I appreciate just the premise of your question. Now to your question, from my point of view, the best assurance I can give you that my business experience will be a positive asset for Virginia is that I've already shown its success and effectiveness on the local level.

As a County Supervisor, I've brought my business approach to government. I've focused on pragmatic problem-solving, while also emphasizing openness and transparency in government and we've seen results. Before I was elected, the Board of Supervisors didn't even have a functional website, let alone a point of access for our citizens to find out what was happening in county government. I've changed that-and I've really made an effort to reach out to our citizens to include them in our decision making process.

Another example from Russell County, as Supervisor I made it a priority to bring the same kind of fiscal discipline and management that I would to my business to county government. And, because of that fiscal management, last year, we were actually able to increase our investments in critical infrastructure, education, and public safety programs and initiatives. As I mentioned previously, we were even able to increase teacher pay by 10%!

I'm going to bring that same business approach as Lt. Governor to create jobs by re-energizing our economy for a green future, building a modern infrastructure system, and invest and improve in our education system.  

[ Parent ]
My wife enjoys pointing out that in Europe students can leave secondary schools with job skills
What can be done to ensure our children leave high school with the foundation necessary to assimilate into the economy as workers with a middle class future?

Public Education
Excellent question. I think in our public education system there are a series of avenues that we should be encouraging and promoting to students that will allow them to leave high school with key job skills and a solid base to enter our workforce. Here are a few that I think hold the most potential in this area:

1) In many counties and parts of our Commonwealth there are programs that allow upper-level high school students to take classes and obtain supplemental learning at local community colleges or through internships with local businesses. This is exactly the kind of partnerships we should be encouraging across Virginia. At EMATS, we run an internship program that employs high school students who are interested in the energy and infrastructure industry to gain some on the ground experience and I've seen firsthand the positive impact that these programs have not only on the students but on businesses as well.

2) I am a big supporter of vocational programs that either through our community colleges, trade schools or high schools provide thousands of Virginia high school students with access to programs and classes that offer learning in key trades that will allow them to leave high school prepared to enter the workforce with the potential to start a career path that ensures them access to a middle class future.  

[ Parent ]
Dillon Rule

Would you change the Dillon Rule? If so, how and why?

Dillon Rule
 Yes-I do believe that we need to modify the Dillon Rule to provide our counties and localities with greater flexibility and autonomy to best meet the needs of their communities. But, I'm also conscious of the need to maintain aspects of the Dillon Rule that make Virginia attractive for business and economic growth. We need to make modifications, but we also need to strike the right balance.  

[ Parent ]
Detailed programs
for education, job creation, transportation and so on, have been published by some candidates. Could you give us some detailed specifics on your signature issue, which is jobs? What about education or transportation as well?  

Detailed Programs
I spent much of last week traveling throughout the Commonwealth speaking with Virginians about my jobs plan (which you can see on my website, During the jobs tour I visited with members of the labor community, small business owners, community members, and leaders from some of our educational institutions. During each meeting one message was clear; we need elected officials who have the experience, vision, and dedication to help lead our Commonwealth forward during these tough economic times. I bring those qualifications to the table and they will help guide me when I am Lt. Governor.

When I am Lt. Governor I will use my background as an energy expert to help create jobs in the development of alternative and nontraditional energy industries. I started a business in my garage in Southwest Virginia that has now grown to employee hundreds of people. With Virginia's geographic location being suitable to the production many alternative energy sources, we could see many jobs created in the same fashion. I am the only candidate that has the background to truly ensure that the Commonwealth of Virginia takes the lead on this issue and helps spur job creation in the alternative energy sector.

I'm actually going to be releasing my Education Plan next week and kicking off an Education Tour next week that will take me all across Virginia. Education lays a foundation for opportunity and I look forward to discussing the details of my plan with Virginians next week.

[ Parent ]
Is there such a thing as clean coal?
We keep hearing excuses that the burning of coal can be "cleaned," and coal can be turned into a more environmentally friendly fuel. Is that possible?  What is your policy on continuing to build new coal-fired power plants?

Right now there isn't such a thing as "clean coal." But the coal being produced and processed today is a lot cleaner than it was 10 years ago and I believe that 10 years from now it will be cleaner than it is today. I agree with President Obama, coal makes up 50% of our current energy source and that's not going to change overnight. But, if we can put a man on the moon, I believe we can develop technology that harnesses and processes clean coal. We just need to make a serious commitment to make that a reality. I believe that Virginia can, should, and will play a leading role in that process. We should be investing more in R&D at our universities and research parks to develop cleaner coal technology. And, Virginia should be the flagship for the nation and the world in how we harness and process clean coal using the most cutting edge and progressive technology and science available.  

[ Parent ]
Several Questions

I just wanted to ask you similar questions that I asked of Mike Signer.  Here they are:

1)  If you can only accomplish one thing as Lt. Governor, what would that one thing be?
2)  As a business owner, from the perspective of your peers, and your subordinates, how would they describe you?  And what would you say your management style is?
3)  Of the the things you have done, what would you say is your greatest accomplishment and why?

Thanks for taking the time to consider these questions.

Several Answers
1) If I could only accomplish one thing I would focus on creating jobs by growing our alternative energy sectors. By creating a market and developing these industries in Virginia we have such economic, environmental, and educational growth potential that its incumbent upon us to seize on that opportunity. I believe that I have the experience and background necessary to deliver the development of these industries. And, I believe that the lasting impact of this economic growth will establish Virginia has a green energy leader in the long-term while addressing our immediate economic concerns in the short-term.  

2) I think they would describe me as a work-horse-which can be both good and bad. I hope that they would say that I always strive to be fair and just in my decisions. I believe whole-heartedly in the idea of creating opportunity and in providing for the well-being of those around you in the workplace and in the community, and I think that my employees would say my actions reflect that philosophy.  

3) I would have to say that my proudest work has been in the efforts my company has made to give back to our employees and our community. At EMATS, I have built my business by investing in Virginia's workforce and we have seen success because of it. By investing in job training and safety programs we have been able to enrich the economic potential of our entire region, and in doing so, we created opportunities for Virginians to access higher paying jobs. My employees earn wages well in excess of the median income in our area-- and every employee, regardless of their position or title, enjoys access to a rich Fortune 10 level benefit package.

Our success has also allowed us to give back to our community at large. One of the proudest accomplishments of my career has been the work and efforts my business has made to contribute to our schools and children in Southwest Virginia. Over the past few years, we've given over $2.5 million to Virginia public schools for books, technology, science labs, athletic facilities and enrichment programs.  

[ Parent ]
Your outreach plans
that you have talked about at various times must cost money, and I doubt there are funds in the state budget. How do you plan on paying for such outreach? Does the law permit private funding of government offices or programs?  

Two ticklish questions
It is possible legislation relating to a woman's freedom of choice or relating to Virginia's so-called right to work law may come up in the Senate and might require a tie-breaking vote by the Lt. Gov. Where do you stand in advance on 1) a woman's right to choose and 2) Virginia's right to work law? (I know you'd have to see the actual legislation, what I am looking for is an idea of your philosophy on these two issues).

Looking forward to answering questions
Well, first of all, let me say thank you for having me here on Blue Commonwealth this morning. I welcome all of your questions, and I thank you all in advance for taking the time to write them. I'm a big believer in the strength and power of Virginia's netroots and I'm honored to be here with you today. There is no question that so many currently elected and hopefully elected Democrats in Virginia owe their success to the organizing efforts and passion of the members of this community and I look forward to working with you all as we beat Bill Bolling in November!  
So, let's get going!  

It is an honor
to have you here responding to our questions!

[ Parent ]
Who is...
your favorite rapper?

I can't say I listen to much rap, but I listen to Beatles; Elton John; Bob Seger; Rolling Stones; Eagles; Doobie Brothers; Aerosmith; The Who; Bruce Springsteen; John Cougar; Tom Petty; Alan Jackson; Garth Brooks; Delbert McClinton; Sheryl Crow; Tchaikovsky.

[ Parent ]
Union Support
Thank you so much for liveblogging here at BC, Mr. Bowerbank.

I'm wondering about your support for unions and union membership.  The key national debate now is revolving around the Employee Free Choice Act, but here in Virginia we have flagging union membership and a legal structure which is frankly atnagonistic to unions.

What's your position on union membership and how do you see your relationship with Virginia unions developing over time while holding state-wide office?

I believe that labor unions play an important role in our communities. Over the years they have been the driving force behind the movements for our most basic fundamental rights in the workplace. Whether it's child labor laws, the minimum wage, overtime pay, the 40-hour workweek -unions have led the way. I value the role that they have played on behalf of workers in the past, and as Lieutenant Governor I will respect and honor the role they will play in the future, particularly on vital issues like providing workers with quality affordable health care and reliable pension and retirement benefits.

I do support and as Lt. Governor I will support efforts to improve and open up dialogue between employees and employers because I think that is fundamental to a healthy economy. In fact, I am the only candidate who has actually been a member of a union. I was a member of UAW in Michigan as I worked my way through school.  

[ Parent ]
The recent outbreak of Swine Flu is a huge opportunity to spread the word about vaccines and hygiene generally.

I wonder how you, as Lt. Gov, would use the resources of your office to handle critical health issues and health education.

Thank you
Thank you so much for questions. Don't forget to go visit to sign up to volunteer or donate to the campaign. And remember to vote on June 9th.

Thank you, Jon
We learned a lot and really appreciate your taking the time to give us such good answers. We hope to see you again here at Bluecommonwealth.

Do this again!
I really liked it!
Hopefully all the other candidates will agree to live blog here...

for your judos. Live blogging really works.

[ Parent ]
Wagner and Signer have live blogged here. n/t

"One person, one vote" died at the hands of SCOTUS, January 21, 2010

[ Parent ]
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