I decided to run for the Virginia House of Delegates in the 4th District because I believe that the best days in Southwest Virginia lie ahead.

Our region is unique, as are our challenges. For more than a century, the lifeblood of Southwest Virginia has been the coalfields and the economic activity they create. Yet it is this area in particular that has suffered at the hands of Washington bureaucrats and wealthy activists. Our way of life and our people, the hard-working men and women of Southwest Virginia, have been looked over for the sake of a political agenda.

This is why Southwest Virginia deserves a representative who will go to Richmond ready and willing to fight these special interests and the big city elites — who have never stepped foot in Southwest Virginia. I think you deserve a representative who will work to rebuild our region by bringing new jobs and new industries to Southwest Virginia, without forgetting our roots and the counties that have supported us for so long. You deserve a representative with Southwest Virginia values, not California values.

Many feel that things are too far gone and that there is nothing we can do, but let me offer some perspective. If you look back 100 years, Southwest Virginia stood strong as the economic engine of the commonwealth. We exported timber, salt, and coal — all produced right here by the hard-working people of our region. Keep in mind, many of these Virginians lived with dirt floors, no electricity and no running water.

Yet we grew, and our region thrived.

Today, we read headlines saying that Southwest Virginia and our industries are simply the victim of “progress.” They say we have been devastated and are past the point of no return. I reject that outlook. I refuse to share in this “doom and gloom” message because it is not the reality I find while working and campaigning across Southwest Virginia.

Everywhere I go around Southwest Virginia, I find people who are supporting their families, improving their communities and taking care of each other along the way. I see teachers and students in our area who, despite having the least financial resources, are outperforming their peers across the commonwealth. I see local leaders making major efforts to revitalize our towns. I see innovative business owners hiring our young people and working to build a more diversified economy here in Virginia’s Great Southwest.

There are so many things to be thankful for today if you live in Southwest Virginia, but some realities must be addressed. Too many people have yet to recover from the devastation of the Great Recession and eight years of the Obama administration’s policies. I meet people who travel over two hours to work at a decent-paying job. I meet people who don’t have access to high-quality health care and who still don’t have access to wireless or broadband connectivity. I travel on roads that are decaying from years of neglect and through towns still suffering from the effects of the liberal agenda coming out of D.C. and Richmond.

These issues are significant, and they are real, but as your delegate, I will not let them define us going forward.

To face these challenges, Southwest Virginia needs a representative who understands the legislative process, can bring legitimate solutions to the table and will pass meaningful legislation focused on helping Southwest Virginia.

We need to expand access to health care through innovations like telemedicine and telemental health. Instead of dismantling our existing health system, closing hospitals and putting people out of work, we need to partner with Washington to modernize the Rural Health Clinic Services Act to ensure that our rural hospitals and clinics continue to have the nurses, physicians, and advanced practitioners that they need to provide high-quality care.

We need to fight for the means to fix and maintain our roads.

We have to provide more support to our K-12 teachers and our higher education institutions so that we can continue to market our educational strengths to companies that help grow our economy.

We have to position Southwest Virginia for the future by expanding broadband access and by recruiting new high-tech industries so that generations to come will have high-paying job opportunities. These are the type of efforts that will help our families the most.

I used to think the role of a legislator was purely offensive — creating new initiatives and laws to help people; but, with this new wave of liberal representatives from Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads, it is now obvious to me that a legislator’s role is also defensive.

As your delegate, I promise to fight efforts to make infanticide legal. I will fight attempts to take away our constitutional right to bear arms, and I will fight policies like the Virginia Green New Deal, which, if enacted, will increase utility costs for everyone and will put our miners and farmers out of work.

Above all else, I will work tirelessly to serve you and improve the lives of people in Southwest Virginia, regardless of your political affiliation.

On Nov. 5, Southwest Virginians in the 4th House District will choose a new representative in the House of Delegates. Will you choose the failed policies of the progressive, anti-gun, anti-business, anti-coal Democrats? Or will you choose a representative who will fight to grow our economy, stand up for us and preserve our way of life?

Vote for Will Wampler this November.

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