Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sam Rasoul's Conversation with the Voters

With an increased amount of housing in our area, and an upsurge of subdivisions developing in every empty field, the beauty of this part of Virginia is becoming damaged. People from all over the Valley are disappointed in the amount of land not being preserved. Is it possible at the Congressional level to provide any guidelines or programs to prevent this kind of damage since the local board of supervisors is reluctant to do so?

I believe we should find a balance between responsible growth and maintaining the beauty of the land. In Botetourt County, where I live, the development of suburbia is everywhere and it is sad to see our landscape altered so much. From a Congressional level, funds can be provided for the purchase of development rights and allowing for conservation easements. You should also push for lower taxes on a LOCAL level when it comes to special use/land use property tax breaks so that farmers do not feel pressured to sell off land to cover expenses.

What is your plan to do to satisfy your constituents while maintaining positive growth?

One way to promote growth and also advocate for responsible new development is by encouraging redevelopment of dilapidated areas. Through responsible grants, we can try to restore areas that were once vibrant which would encourage new economic growth and help to limit development that sprawls throughout the country side.

Katie S. Rockingham County

After the tragedy at Virginia Tech last year involving the deaths of 32 students at the hands of a person who suffered from mental illness, what is the stance of each candidate concerning gun control in the realm of mental illness? Would you support HR 709 in the Virginia General Assembly that would amend the Code of Virginia relating to the purchase of firearms that would require the applicant to disclose information regarding their previous mental health history?

I believe that the tragedy at VT was a failure of our mental health system. At that time, Virginia was ranked 48th in the nation in mental health. This is unacceptable for our state. While I would support legislation that would require someone to be flagged if they have serious mental health issues when purchasing a firearm, we as Virginians must fix our mental health system.

Thank you for your consideration of these questions.Alli R. and Stephanie D., Harrisonburg

4 comments:

Hburg Attorney said...

Mr. Rasoul,

You say above that Virginia ranks 48th in mental health.
What the heck does that mean? Are you saying that Virginians are mentally unhealthy?

Charles Logan said...

Mr. Rasoul:
When you say, "From a Congressional level, funds can be provided for the purchase of development rights and allowing for conservation easements."
Where are these funds going to come from? How long do you propose the life span of these "development rights" to be? Forever? Twenty years?

Please know I don't mean to be arguementive, I have just heard too many politicians speak vaguely about these ideas without any specifics, and with no action at all. Delegate Lohr comes immediately to mind. Are you going to be another Delegate Lohr, only in the House of Representatives?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Candidate, I am a builder of affordable housing. I would like you to speak on this issue if you would? We have, in this area, around 1,000 high school graduates a year. Granted some percentage will delay making a home while they go to college, but all in all I think that it all works out so that about that many a year will want to find a place to live here, and it is not available. How can we balance the need for lower income people (many of our youth who are just getting started)to find living quarters they can afford, with the demand that many local people make that no new housing is allowed?

Sam Rasoul 2008 said...

Thank you for all the comments. In order they were submitted, here are the answers to your questions:
1.Virginia is ranked 48th out of the 50 states in how well it provides mental health services to those in need (Mental Health Planning Council, 2/20/08, http://www.dmhmrsas.virginia.gov/
MHPC/Meetings.htm). Happily, Virginia is ranked 18th in a nationwide survey of reported instances of depression specifically (Mental Health American, December 2007, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22044451). So, no, Virginia should not be considered a "mentally unhealthy" state; however, Virginia does have an obligation to improve the availability of mental health services to its citizens.
2. Wasteful spending is much too prevalent in Washington. When I am
elected I will work to help fund the purchasing of development rights by better utilizing existing tax revenue. For example, the IRS estimates that our tax gap is approximately $300 billion. We can close this gap to help pay for a number of different initiatives, such as development rights. We need to bring everyone to the table to decide what is best for individual localities. The federal government should allow local governments to have a voice at the table when it comes to the length of development rights. These development rights will continue to be held in order to preserve the existing beauty of the land, prevent uncontrolled sprawl and encourage planned growth.
3. The broader problem is the squeezing of the middle class. We should enact measures that ensure a more vibrant middle class in America. A successful middle class will ensure that the average working family will have the ability to buy a home of their own. I would like to see the redevelopment of dilapidated areas to support the need for affordable housing. There are a considerable number of quality homes in our community that have simply gone into disrepair; these homes can be repaired for use by lower-income individuals wishing to become new homeowners.