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Candidate Profile: Michael (Mike) Martin
Editor’s Note: Mike Martin is running for Board of Supervisors in the Chancellor District. Recently he sat down with FXBG Advance to talk about his life, why he wants to run for office, and what he would hope to accomplish on the board.
FXBG Advance: Tell us a bit about your background.
Mike Martin: I immigrated here by ship from Germany after my mother married a GI (my stepfather). We came to New York City by ship, and I got off at the port at 6 years old.
FXBG Advance: As an immigrant, what did you find unusual about America?
MM: When I arrived in 1962, segregation was still a reality, and that was new to me. We lived for a time in Columbus, Georgia, and I remember as a kid getting on a bus and wanting to sit in the back. I thought it would be cool to sit back there. My mother called me up to the front and gave me two directions. 1) We sit in the front because people with darker skin colors sit back there. 2) Don’t speak German in public.
FXBG Advance: Tell us about your education, professional life, and family.
MM: I was educated here in the states, then joined the military because I didn’t have the money for college. I worked my way up from an enlisted person to a warrant officer rank. I earned my citizenship, and served in the Gulf War. Professionally, I worked as a contractor for a while, then went into the Pentagon as a federal employee. So all together I have about 42 years serving my country.
My wife is Honduran – we have 7 kids. Two from my first marriage. Five of my kids were educated here in Spotsylvania County. They range in ages from 23 to 45. Four daughters, and three sons. We own some small businesses.
FXBG Advance: How did the pandemic affect your businesses?
MM: During the pandemic, when we opened our first restaurant (the restaurants my wife owns are not in this district), we thought we would go under, so we thought, if we’re going to go down, let’s do it with a bang. So for two years we provided meals 7 days a week to the elderly who wanted it.
We’ve delivered turkeys for families, bought bicycles for kids during the holidays.
Giving back is important to me and my family.
FXBG Advance: Why are you running for Board of Supervisors?
I was asked about a year ago if I was interested in running for the board of supervisors. I’ve lived here for 19 years and have a pretty good idea of how things have evolved in the county. I believe that my background has important skills that will help citizens. I was a quartermaster in the Army, I have an IT degree (undergrad) and a management degree.
I’m not into pointing fingers. I just believe in focusing on the tasks at hand. I think we can do things smarter. I think it’s disjointed right now how we’re negotiating with the businesses coming in. Hard questions need to be asked if we’re doing the right thing for the county, state, and tax payers.
As an IT person, I understand the Cloud. The bottom line is, the data centers are a necessity, as we’re more dependent on them, but we have to be smart about where we put them, and the energy requirements for them, and we need to push renewable energy to offset the energy required to run the centers. The grids can only produce so much.
We need to find a good way ahead on these projects.
FXBG Advance: What does finding a better way ahead look like?
Consider the data center they want to build on the edge of Spotsylvania County near Orange County, which would be built on an old mining site. There are legitimate concerns about water contamination from the days when that land was used for gold mining. This needs to be looked out closer.
Another issue we face is redundancy of businesses and services. If you go down Route 3, you will see what I’m talking about. We need to stick to a master plan, which lays out how we’re going to build an organized community.
Revitalization is something that we should also look into. Why build a new gas station where there’s a broken one nearby that could be revitalized? Building a new facility while leaving a broken one behind takes away from the aesthetic in our community.
I’m also not a believer that big businesses should always get a tax break, because the small businesses don’t always get them.
Then there are basic quality of life issues. There are too many places in the county with no sidewalks. And, for course, our traffic is getting worse. This isn’t just a county problem, of course, but it’s important to find a way to motivate people to get out of their cars and either walk or get on their bikes.
I’m just concerned about just getting things done, or getting them done right.
Senate Debate Moved
Due to the unexpectedly large turn-out for the recent House debate between Josh Cole and Lee Peters, Wednesday night’s debate at 7 pm with Tara Durant (R), Monica Gary (I), and Joel Griffin (D) has been relocated to George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium (See map below).
Image courtesy of Google Maps
This race is being closely watched, as it will be one of a small number of contests in the commonwealth that determines the balance of control in the Senate.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin has aired radio spots encouraging Republicans to flip the Senate so that he can fully implement his agenda, assuming the House stays in Republican hands.
While Durant is the odds-on favorite at the moment, this race is filled with twists that make the outcome all but certain. Dark money groups have launched at least one fact-challenged ad against Joel Griffin, and an ad released by the Durant campaign has tried to tie Gary to Griffin as a “radical” liberal.
Gary, for her part, has stubbornly defied categorization and reflects the growing movement of truly independent candidates. She has defied the odds before, winning as an independent in the Stafford Board of Supervisors’ race. She is currently gaining momentum and, according to some internal polls, is pulling voters from both Griffin and Durant.
Griffin, meanwhile, is running on a platform that is strong on issues traditionally popular with Republican voters (small business and growth), and on the issue of preserving a woman’s right to make her own choices regarding reproductive health. This played well for Democrat Abigail Spanberger and others in the 2022 congressional races. It remains to be seen if this issue will carry the same impact in November for Democrats.
Matt Strickland, a write-in candidate who was defeated by Durant in the primary is an unknown factor. His Trump-infused extremism has been raging war with members of the Republican Party, and with Durant and Youngkin in particular. How deep his base of supporters runs is unknown. He will not be on the debate stage Wednesday night.
The Advance will be covering the debate, so watch for our report Thursday morning.
Looking for homeschooling families
Recent research by the Washington Post has revealed some interesting information about the changing nature of homeschooling post-pandemic, including a fundamental shift in the types of people homeschooling (fewer evangelicals) and a more positive attitude toward public schools among families who do homeschool.
We want to hear from you about your experiences with homeschooling - the good as well as the bad - and how the experience has shaped your views about education.
If you or family members started homeschooling during the pandemic and would like to be interviewed, please reach out to the editor.
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-Martin Davis, Editor