Watchdog.

org’s  interview  with  Libertarian  gubernatorial  hopeful  Robert   Sarvis     Note:  This  was  an  in-­person  interview,  transcribed  word-­for-­word  as   accurately  as  possible  in  order  to  preserve  the  flow  by  Kathryn  Watson  of   Watchdog.org’s  Virginia  Bureau.  She  can  be  reached  at   katie@watchdogvirginia.org.       WD:  Tell  me  about  your  family  and  how  you  got  into  politics.     Sarvis:  “I  guess  the  best  place  to  start  is  just,  how  I’ve  always  been  interested  in   politics,  from  a  private  citizen  point  of  view.  I’ve  always  followed  it.  My  family  was   fairly  cognizant  of  what  was  going  on  throughout  my  childhood.  I  grew  up  around   here,  so  we  lived  pretty  close  to  D.C.  and  followed  both  local  budgetary  issues  and   also  the  national  politics.  But  it  was  only  in  the  last  several  years  that  I  really   became  interested  in  doing  something  kind  of  different.  Because,  I  saw  the   Republican  and  Democratic  parties  not  really  presenting  choices  in  the  interest  of   the  average  citizen.”     WD:  Was  there  any  one  issue  or  even  that  really  sparked  your  involvement?     Sarvis:  “It  was  pretty  much  across  the  board.  The  Republican  Party  is  fairly   untrustworthy  on  economic  issues.  They  say  a  lot  of  good  things  about  small   government  and  unleashing  business,  entrepreneurship.  But,  they  don’t  follow   through  on  it.  The  transportation  bill  was  a  perfect  example  where  it’s  just,  no   prioritization  whatsoever  of  spending,  and  just  a  lot  of  tax  increases.  And  the   Republican  nominee  for  governor  has  essentially  said  he’s  not  going  to  try  to  undo   any  of  that.  So,  that’s  a  problem.  And  then,  on  social  issues  as  well,  you  just  kind  of   see  —  the  good  changes  that  are  occurring  are  occurring  organically.  And  the  most   you  can  say  is  really  government  is  getting  in  the  way,  trying  to  impede  those   changes.  So,  two  years  ago,  I  ran  as  a  Republican  for  state  senate.  And  it  was  an   interesting  experience.  I  learned  a  lot.  But  one  of  the  things  I  learned  is  that  the   Republican  Party  is  not  a  good  place  for  a  liberty  candidate,  somebody  who  thinks   that  we  should  be,  in  the  first  instance,  free  to  live  our  lives  how  we  want  to.  And  so,   when  this  election  came  around,  the  Libertarian  Party  was  looking  for  a  governor   candidate.  And  a  few  of  them  had  asked  if  I  would  be  interested.  I  basically  looked  at   what  the  race  was  going  to  be  like,  and  when  it  became  clear  that  it  was  going  to  be   Terry  McAuliffe  against  Ken  Cuccinelli,  I  decided,  why  not  run?  Because  Virginia   really  needs  another  option.  I  think  the  other  two  candidates  really  epitomize   exactly  what’s  wrong  with  their  respective  parties,  and  really  shouldn’t  be  trusted   with  the  reigns  of  government.”     WD:  How  so?     Sarvis:  “I  think  in  both  cases,  for  one  thing,  we  can  start  with  the  idea  of  crony   capitalism  and  business  sort  of  being  in  bed  with  government.  I  think  neither  party  

has  any  credibility  on  that  issue  —  at  all.  Certainly,  Terry  McAuliffe  doesn’t,  because   he  was  the  big  money  guy  for  Democrats  for  a  long  time.  The  Republicans  don’t  have   any  more  credibility  than  the  Democrats  do,  at  any  level  of  government.  And  you  see   this  with  everything  that’s  going  on  with  Star  Scientific,  both  in  the  McDonnell   administration  and  also,  connections  with  the  Republican  nominee.  And  there  are  so   many  ways  in  which  Republicans  talk  about  small  government,  but  they  don’t  go   after  some  of  the  regulations  and  the  occupational  licensure  laws  that  really  protect   incumbents  rather  than  protect  the  public  health.  So,  that’s  one  thing.       I  think  that  the  Republican  Party  is  sort  of  trying  to  foist  a  social  conservative   agenda  onto  the  greater  populous.  I  respect  their  views,  from  the  standpoint  of,  how   to  live  your  own  lives  and  things  like  that.  But,  I  really  think,  for  example,  the  gay   marriage  ban  from  2006,  I  think  that  was  a  huge  mistake.  I  don’t  think  we  should   use  government  to  impede  social  change  that’s  happening  organically.  So,  I  think   that’s  an  example.       Ken  Cuccinelli  wants  to  run  as  a  liberty  candidate,  but  he’s  very  inconsistent  when  it   comes  to  things  like  drugs  and  federalism,  and  on  taxes,  again.  So,  I  really  don’t  think   that  the  Republicans  or  Democrats  have  any  credibility  on  these  issues.  And  it  really   seems  like  Virginians  really  want  another  option,  and  polls  show  that.  There’s  a   Washington  Post  poll  showing  that  40  percent  of  people  wish  someone  else  was   running.  So  I’m  trying  to  fill  that  void.”     WD:  Obviously,  even  though  these  candidates  aren’t  particularly  well-­liked  on   either  end,  they  at  least  have  some  name  recognition.  So,  what  do  you  feel  like   your  campaign  needs  to  push  on  to  get  your  name  out  there?     Sarvis:  “I  think  that’s  what  we’re  struggling  with  right  now,  just  because  we’re  not   yet  confirmed  to  be  on  the  ballot  yet.  The  SBE,  the  Board  of  Elections,  will  hopefully   get  back  to  us  in  about  a  week  or  two.  And  once  we  have  that.  I  think  the  fact  that  we   had  to  go  through  so  much  just  to  get  on  the  ballot,  the  point  of  those  ballot  access   rules,  are  to  keep  out  non-­‐credible  candidates.  And  so  when  you’re  on  the  ballot,  I   don’t  think  that  there’s  a  very  strong  argument  for  keeping  me  out  of  the  debates,   for  example.  And  I  think  that  if  I’m  in  the  debates,  I’ll  win  the  election.  In  North   Carolina,  they  had  a  Libertarian  gubernatorial  in  the  debates,  same  for  2008.  They   also  had  one  for  Senate  in  2010.  So,  you  know,  I  think  there’s  a  very  strong   argument  for  including  me.  And  we’re  just  going  to  do  everything  we  can  to  get   myself  and  my  arguments  and  my  vision  for  Virginia  in  front  of  the  voters.”       WD:  What  are  some  things,  on  the  flip  side,  that  you  as  a  Libertarian  candidate   offer  that  the  other  two  don’t?     Sarvis:  “I’m  trying  to  avoid  ideology  and  focus  on  solutions  that  are  really  going  to   work.  I  have  experience  as  a  lawyer,  I  have  experience  studying  economics.  I  have   experience  starting  a  business.  I  know  what  it’s  like  to  be  laid  off.  I  have  a  lot  of   experiences  that  help  me  understand  what  it’s  like  to  be  people  in  various  walks  of  

life.  So  what  I  want  to  do  is  A),  I  want  to  focus  on  economic  growth  and  jobs.  And  the   way  to  do  that  is  trying  to  get  the  government  to  stop  trying  to  figure  out  what  the   technologies  of  tomorrow  are  going  to  be,  kind  of  unleash  the  power  of   entrepreneurship,  not  just  in  the  industries  that  we  talk  about,  but  also,  in  things   like  education.  I  want  to  focus  heavily  on  the  idea  of  school  choice,  unleashing  the   power  of  parents  and  teachers  to  work  together  for  the  benefit  of  our  students,   rather  than  sort  of  binding  them  into  a  system  that’s  just  not  working.  All  around  the   state  there  are  counties  that  are  really  struggling  to  graduate  their  students  and  put   them  either  through  colleges  or  vocational  schools  to  get  them  job  skills.  We  need   somebody  who  is  going  to  focus  on  how  to  do  that  best,  and  I  think  the  evidence  is   very  strong  that  the  best  way  to  do  that  is  to  put  parents  in  charge  of  the  money   being  spent  on  their  kids.  And  I  think  I’m  the  only  candidate  who’s  really  willing  to   fight  really  hard  for  that.  And  I  think  that’s  something  that’s  going  to  resonate  with  a   lot  of  voters.”     WD:  Are  charter  schools  just  one  piece  of  the  puzzle?     Sarvis:  “Yes.  I  think  that  we  should  be  multi-­‐faceted  in  our  approach.  I  certainly  am   not  sort  of  focusing  on  one  solution.  I  think  we  have  a  lot  of  options  that  have  been   tried  throughout  the  country  and  throughout  the  world.  And  there  are  a  lot  of   different  ways  we  can  do  that.  Charter  schools  are  a  great  one.  Parental  triggers  to   create  charter  schools,  to  put  them  outside  the  public  school  regulations  rubric.   Also,  direct  subsidies  and  tax  credits.  Public  school  choice  matching  programs.  I   want  to  push  all  of  these  things  and  figure  out  what  the  public  is  willing  to  do.  This  is   not  an  ideological  campaign.  This  is  a,  ‘let’s  get  things  done’  campaign.  And  so,  I  start   from  the  premise  of,  what  is  politically  feasible,  and  let’s  do  the  best  thing  within   that.”     WD:  Going  back  to  jobs,  do  you  see  it  as  a  primary  responsibility  for  a   governor  to  create  an  environment  where  there  can  be  good  jobs?     Sarvis:  “I  think  the  best  way  to  think  about  it  is  that  first,  the  government  should  do   no  harm.  There’s  a  lot  of  busy-­‐bodying  by  the  government,  trying  to  do  things  that   they  think  will  improve  the  job  climate,  when  in  fact,  it’s  oftentimes  making  things   worse  —  the  unintended  consequences  and  perverse  incentives  that  it  creates,   taking  money  from  one  set  of  industries  or  taxpayers  and  trying  to  give  it  to  another   to  get  growth  there.  I  think  we  should  get  out  of  that  business.  But,  we  should  also   look  at  all  the  regulations,  occupational  licensure  rules,  tax  rules,  and  just  kind  of   have  a  more  intelligent  system  —  more  efficient  taxes,  fewer  taxes,  get  rid  of  a  lot  of   the  business  taxes  that  just  cause  a  lot  of  headaches,  replace  it  with  a  very  small   number  of  taxes  that  are  very  easy  to  pay.  Reduce  spending,  cut  out  a  lot  of   unnecessary  spending.  But  really,  focusing  on  just  the  job  climate.  And  one  of  the   important  parts  of  that  is  our  social  policy.  Businesses  and  investors  do  not  want  to   come  to  a  place  that  is  hostile  to  gay  rights,  for  example.  I’m  easily  the  most   stridently  in  favor  of  repealing  that  ban  from  2006  and  recognizing  same-­‐sex  

marriages.  So,  there’s  a  lot  of  things  that  we  can  do  to  make  this  the  best  place  to   start  a  business,  to  move  your  business.”     WD:  Are  social  issues  and  economic  issues  inseparable?     Sarvis:  “Absolutely.  And  we  see  that  in  terms  of,  if  you  look  at  Silicon  Valley,  who,  a   lot  of  the  successful  entrepreneurs  there,  they  either  have  said  or  have  said  with   their  donations  that  they  support  same-­‐sex  marriage,  recognizing  same-­‐sex   marriage.  The  atmosphere  of  a  place  that  you  want  to  move  your  business  to,  if  you   are  yourself  gay,  or  even  one  of  your  managers  or  some  of  your  workers,  you’re  not   going  to  want  to  move  to  a  place  that  they  feel  uncomfortable  being  in,  or  they  feel   ostracized  as  a  person.  And  this  isn’t  simply  a  business  thing.  I  think  it’s  the  right   thing  to  do.  But,  it’s  also  one  component  of  that  argument  for  being  an  attractive   business  atmosphere.  And  so  you  can’t  say  business  people  only  care  about  taxes.   No,  that’s  not  how  it  works.       WD:  Speaking  of  taxes,  what  is  your  overall  tax  approach?     Sarvis:  “I  would  like  to  end  a  lot  of  taxes  that  are  just  plain  inefficient  or  just  overly   burdensome.  A  lot  of  them  are  the  way  local  jurisdictions  raise  money.  So,  we  do   have  to  be  concerned  about  that.  But,  that’s  not  a  very  difficult  problem  to  solve,  in   terms  of  whether  the  power  to  have  a  sales  tax.  The  money  can  be  raised,  the   question  is,  how  do  you  raise  it?  You  want  to  raise  it  in  the  least  burdensome  and   most  efficient  way.  And  so,  generally  speaking,  I  think  most  economists  will  agree   that  consumption  taxes  are  better  than  income  taxes,  and  certainly,  they’re  better   than  things  like  the  business  professional  occupational  licensure  tax.  So,  I’d  just  like   to  move  in  the  direction  of  more  intelligent,  evidence-­‐based  policy.  And  you  know,  I   think  that  will  enable  us  also  to  reduce  rates  by  getting  rid  of  the,  I  should  have   mentioned  this  as  a  totally  separate  part,  is  getting  rid  of  a  lot  of  the  preferential   treatment  of  particular  industries,  of  particular,  we  have  evaluation  rules  for  certain   industries  that  gives  them  a  tax  break.”     WD:  Are  Republicans  and  Democrats  equally  culpable  in  favoring  certain   industries  and  taxpayers  with  incentives?     Sarvis:  “Oh,  absolutely.  That’s  unquestionable.  So,  the  only  way  we  can  do  this,  and   one  of  the  things  is  that,  Republican  or  a  Democrat  is  going  to  meet  resistance  in  the   General  Assembly,  because  each  party,  each  of  the  major  parties,  doesn’t  want  the   other  party  getting  credit  for  whatever.  They  don’t  want  the  other  parties,   constituents,  to  win  out  at  the  expense  of  their  own.  And  so,  there’s  actually  a  really   strong  argument  for  a  third-­‐party  candidate  to  come  and  say,  look,  we  can  end  all  of   these  tax  breaks  for  everybody.  When  we  do  it  for  everybody,  it’s  fair.  If  we  have   something  that  everybody  has  to  pay,  you  can’t  really  claim  that  it’s  ‘oh,  you’re  side’s   winning  and  my  side’s  losing.’  There’s  a  lot  more  that  you  can  do.  If  I  have  to   negotiate  both  with  Democrats  and  Republicans  in  the  General  Assembly,  there’s  a   lot  to  be  said  for  what  we  can  do.  So,  I  think  that  there’s  —  if  I  can  get  in  front  of  

enough  people  and  make  that  argument,  I  think  there’s  no  question  that  will   resonate  with  people.”     WD:  Gay  marriage  —  obviously,  you  support  it  as  a  part  of  your  platform.  Do   you  think  that  your  position  resonates  with  Virginia’s  political  identity?  Is  that   something  members  of  both  parties  could  rally  around?     Sarvis:  “I  think  there  are  a  lot  of  people  in  both  parties  who  are  going  to  resist  the   change.  But,  I  think  that  if  we  all  recognize  that  this  is  where  society,  totally  separate   from  government,  is  going,  there  will  be  a  willingness  to  say,  ‘OK,  let’s  do  this,  not   make  it  into  a  political  football.’  I  think  most  people  recognize  that  it’s  going  to   happen  and  that  it’s  the  right  thing  to  do,  so  why  don’t  we  come  together?  Do  it   properly,  through  democratic  means,  democratically  reversing  the  ban  in  the   Constitution,  democratically  enacting  it.  I  think  that’ll  do  a  lot  for  bringing  Virginians   together,  yeah.”     WD:  What  are  the  major  challenges  you  see  facing  Virginia?     Sarvis:  “There  are  a  lot.  I  think  certainly  education,  closing  education  gaps  racially,   socioeconomically,  there  are  a  lot  of  vested  interests  in  favor  of  the  status  quo,  and   education  is  going  to  be  really  hard  to  make  resources  available  in  the  way  that  I   was  talking  about.  But,  that’s  something  that  people  respond  to.  The  D.C.  voucher   program  that  the  Democrats  killed  I  think  in  2009  or  so,  that  was  very  popular  with   people  who  had  an  opportunity  to  be  a  part  of  it.  Adrian  Fenti,  the  former   Democratic  mayor  of  D.C.  has  said,  my  party  is  on  the  wrong  side  of  education   reform.  Unfortunately,  the  Republicans  aren’t  really  effectively  pushing  for   something  that  creates  a  market  for  educational  services.  And  that’s  why  there’s  this   big  vacuum.  So  education  is  a  huge  one.  Obviously,  our  transportation,  the  way  we   do  transportation  in  Virginia  is  kind  of  —  there’s  a  lot  of  ways  in  which  it  doesn’t   make  sense.  It’s  very  bureaucratic.  It’s  very  centralized.  It’s  unfair.  There  are  a  lot  of   geographic  subsidies.  There’s  a  lot  of  hidden  subsidies  of  different  types  of   transportation.  I’m  of  the  view  that  we  should  be  relatively  agnostic  with  regards  to   modes  of  transportation.  I  think  the  Democrats  and  Republicans  have  this  road   versus  rail  fight,  which  really  doesn’t  make  a  lot  of  sense.  The  transportation  bill   moves  us  in  the  wrong  direction.  It  moves  us  away  from  a  system  where  users  pay   for  the  construction  and  maintenance.  It  moves  us  more  towards  a  system  where   there’s  a  general  fund.  The  tax  increases,  a  lot  of  them,  are  going  into  the  general   fund.  How  do  we  know  that’s  going  to  go  to  transportation  construction?  So,  that’s  a   huge  thing  where  we  should  actually  do  a  redo  of  transportation,  focusing  on   prioritizing  all  of  state  spending  so  transportation  —  everybody  knows  it’s  a  huge   priority.  We  should  act  as  if  it  is,  and  move  as  much  as  possible  towards  a  user-­‐pay   system.”     WD:  Along  those  lines,  what  are  your  thoughts  on  toll  roads  and  the   proliferation  of  public-­private  partnerships?    

Sarvis:  “Generally  speaking,  I’m  in  favor  of  public-­‐private  partnerships  and  toll-­‐ based  approaches,  as  long  as  tolls  aren’t  used  as  this  cash  cow  to  fund  unrelated   infrastructure  or  even  other  things.  I  think  that  the  Dulles  toll  increases,  the  toll   increases  that  people  are  talking  about,  sound  pretty  problematic  to  me.  I  think  it’s   basically  taxing  one  set  of  people  to  subsidize  another.  And  you  know,  that’s  being   done  by  an  organization  where  Virginia  has  a  minority  influence  over  the  MWAA.   Generally  speaking,  if  tolls,  if  we  had  a  system  where  construction  was  done   according  to  the  way  big  capital  projects  are  often  done  —  there’s  a  borrowing   phase,  there’s  the  construction,  and  then  the  tolls  pay  to  pay  down  the  debt,  and   then  tolls  also  pay  for  continued  maintenance  of  those  particular  roads,  and  you   have  a  private  company,  the  public-­‐private  partnership  is  the  administration  of  the   road,  the  upkeep  of  it  and  things  like  that,  that’s  not  problematic  to  me  at  all.  I  think   that’s  a  good  way  of  doing  things.  And  if  you  have  intelligent  tolling  where  you  don’t   have  to  stop  and  create  a  traffic  jam  when  it’s  actually,  you  know,  you  can  drive   through  at  full  speed,  that’s  not  going  to  cause,  that  shouldn’t  cause  voters  much   concern.  Where  voters  get  really  upset  is  where  they’ve  already  paid  for  the   construction,  and  they’re  just  paying  tolls  just  because  the  system  is  so  messed  up,   and  the  politicians  just  want  to  raise  revenue.  So  that’s  one  of  the  main  reasons   people  don’t  like  tolls,  is  because  there’s  a  way  of  just  adding  on  to  the  burdens  of   the  taxpayers.  And  so,  if  you  get  away  from  that  system  towards  a  system  where   tolls  are  simply  you  know,  done  in  an  economically  and  intelligent  way,  they’re  tied   to  the  project,  there  are  different  companies  that  are  doing  different  highways  or   whatever,  and  then  you  know  there’s  also  the  concern  about  privacy.  That’s  a  good   thing  when  you  have  different  private  organizations  running  the  different  highway   systems.  There  are  rules  for  them  having  to  be  able  to  hook  up  properly.  But  the   private  information  is  kept  in  private  hands.  The  government  has  to  come  to  the   private  organizations  with  a  warrant  to  get  the  information  about  any  particular  car   that  they’re  looking  for.  So  I  think  that’s  a  system.  But  it’s  so  radically  different  from   sort  of  the  status  quo  and  where  we’re  moving  towards.  I  shouldn’t  say  that  we’re   not  moving  towards  that  in  some  sense,  because  obviously  we’ve  had  some  of  the   HOT  lanes  and  other  things  being  built  that  way.  But  we  need  to  make  it  more   competitive,  do  it  on  a  larger  scale  so  that  we’re  unburdening  people  who  aren’t   using  the  roads  as  much,  or  aren’t  using  —  the  way  they’re  doing  it  in  terms  of  oh,   electric  cars  have  to  pay  a  set  amount.  Well,  that  doesn’t  take  into  account  how   much  they  drive.  It  doesn’t  distinguish  hybrid  cars.  Is  it  fair  to  them,  how  they’re   being  treated?  There’s  a  lot  of  ways  in  which,  do  we  trust  140  legislators  to  have   gotten  things  right  at  the  level  of  how  much  electric  vehicle  drivers  have  to  pay,  the   whole,  25  percent  of  the  funding  has  to  go  towards  mass  transit.  Is  that  the  right   percentage?  I  mean,  do  I  trust  140  legislators  and  a  governor  and  the   Commonwealth  Transportation  Board  or  whoever  to  come  up  with  a  number  that’s   supposed  to  make  sense  for  all  time.  It  just  doesn’t  make  sense.  And  so,  having   prices  on  more  of  our  infrastructure  would  do  a  lot  better  job  of  making  our,  of  just   being  more  cost-­‐effective  in  how  we  produce  our  transportation  infrastructure.”    

WD:  What  do  you  think  of  Virginia’s  disclosure  laws?  Obviously,  Gov.  Bob   McDonnell  has  been  in  the  news  a  lot  about  that.  Do  you  think  Virginia’s   disclosure  laws  need  to  be  tighter?     Sarvis:  “It’s  hard  to  say.  They’re  already,  I  wouldn’t  say  onerous,  but  it’s  already   something  that  I  thought  twice  about  running  when  I  was  looking  at  like,  do  I  really   want  to  fill  this  out?  I  don’t  really  have  anything  that  I’m  really  concerned  about   people  knowing.  But  most  people,  especially  a  lot  of  us  Libertarians,  are  a  little  shy   about  putting  all  that  public  information  out  there.  It’s  certainly  a  concern,  when   things  don’t  get  disclosed.  I  just  don’t  know  how  much  we’re  buying  with  those   disclosure  laws.  At  some  point,  it  becomes  you  know,  at  some  point  it  becomes  just  a   matter  of  oh,  I  left  something  out  and  now  I’m  being  raked  over  the  coals  for  it.  I   don’t  have  enough  experience  with  it  to  say  where  the  balance  lies.  I  do  think  there’s   reason  to  be  concerned  about  what’s  going  on  right  now  with  Star  Scientific  and  all   those  things.  But  that  did  come  out,  so  there  are  other  ways  of  getting  at  that   information,  and  it’s  up  to  the  voters.  I  mean,  if  the  voters,  if  it  turns  out  that  they   don’t  really  care  and  they’re  just  going  to  vote  how  they  normally  do,  then   disclosure  can  really  only  do  so  much.  It’s  really  up  to  the  voters  to  keep  people   honest.”     WD:  What  do  you  think  about  gubernatorial  term  limits?  Virginia  is  the  only   state  in  the  country  where  a  governor  can’t  run  for  two  consecutive  terms.       Sarvis:  “I  think  it’s  worked  pretty  well.  I  would  like  to  see  that  maintained.  I  would   also  like  to  see  term  limits  on  a  lot  of  other  officials,  including  state  legislators,   possibly  even  local  officials,  and  I’d  love  to  see  also  congressional  term  limits.”     WD:  What  are  the  benefits  of  term  limits?     Sarvis:  “I  think  that  certainly,  it’s  empirically  shown  that  the  advantage  of   incumbents  is  quite  strong.  I  think  that  you  do  get  more  competitive  elections  when   there’s  rotation  in  an  office.  I  think  there’s  a  lot  to  be  said  for  just  the  basic  idea  that   people  know  that  they’re  going  to  be  returning  to  fully  private  lives.  I  don’t  know   how  long  the  term  limits  would  be.  I  generally  favor  shorter  ones.  There  are   arguments  going  both  ways,  but  I  think  it’s  a  good  thing  to  get  new  people  in  there.   You  also  have  more  people  who  have  served,  over  a  20-­‐year  period,  you’re  going  to   have  a  lot  more  people  who  have  served,  so  you’re  going  to  have  a  lot  more  people   who  are  looking  to  run  for  senate  or  governor.  That’s  also  going  to  also  produce   more  competitive  primaries  and  elections,  especially  at  the  local  level.  At  the  local   level,  for  the  same  reasons  that  Madison  wrote  in  the  federalist  papers,  a  small   Republic  or  a  local  jurisdiction,  it’s  very  easy  for  factions  to  develop  and  to  take   control  of  we  would  call  them  special  interests,  take  control  of  the  government.   When  you  have  the  same  person  over  and  over  again,  the  costs  of  controlling  the   Legislature  go  down.  If  you  have  to  keep  lobbying  a  different  person  each  time,  then   the  costs  go  up.  I  recognize  that  there  are  arguments  on  the  other  side.  I  just  think   that  it  would  be  a  good  idea  to  give  it  a  try.”  

  WD:  What  do  you  bring  as  a  newcomer  to  Virginia  politics?  Some  might  say   that’s  a  disadvantage.  Do  you  think  it’s  an  advantage?     Sarvis:  “I  definitely  think  that  there’s  an  advantage  in  it.  The  disadvantage  is  in  lack   of  name  recognition  and  lack  of  the  sort  of  epic  fundraising  opportunities  that  the   other  candidates  have.  But  that’s  also  an  advantage  in  terms  of  the  fact  that  people   know  that  I  don’t  really  have,  that  I’m  not  beholden  to  any  industry.  I’m  certainly  not   doing  this  because  I’m  aiming  at  higher  office  or  anything  like  that.  Most  people   don’t  run  as  Libertarian  if  they  have  the  aspirations  to  have  a  long  career  that  ends   in  higher  office.  But  people  know  that  I’m  doing  this  because  I’m  just  tired  of  what  I   see,  the  depredations  of  the  two  major  parties.  The  loss  of  freedom,  the  increasing   burden  to  taxpayers.  I  think  that  there’s  a  lot  of  reason  to  think  that  Libertarians   especially,  but  third-­‐party  candidates  generally,  have  more  of  an  interest,  just  from   the  strength  of  their  beliefs,  that  they’re  willing  to  run  as  a  third  party.  That  they’re  a   little  bit  more  willing  to  stand  up  to  special  interests  and  requests  for  special   treatment.”     WD:  What  few  words  characterize  and  summarize  what  you’re  all  about?     Sarvis:  “My  campaign  theme  is  a  Virginia  that’s  open-­‐minded  and  open  for  business.   And  I  think  that  really  encapsulates  what  I’m  trying  to  do.  On  my  website,   somewhere  I  think  in  my  bio  section,  I  talk  about  how  in  so  many  ways,  I  am   representative  of  so  much  of  Virginia,  in  terms  of  our  diversity,  our  increasing  ethnic   diversity.  The  fact  that  Republicans  and  Democrats  are  talking  about  who’s  more  of   a  ‘real’  Virginian,  I  think  that’s  just  a  really  bad  thing  to  get  into.  And  it’s  something   that  I  certainly  —  I  was  born  here,  I’m  the  only  gubernatorial  candidate  who  was   born  here,  I  have  a  great  education,  which  is  something  that  we  really  need  to  invest   in.  I  have  a  very  diverse  professional  career.  I  think  that’s  something  that  we  really   have  to  appreciate  in  pretty  much  every  aspect  of  our  economy.  And  we  have  to,  I   should  have  mentioned  this  earlier  too,  something  that’s  not  really  getting  a  lot  of   talk  yet  is  the  fact  that  Virginia  is  so  dependent  on  federal  government.  A  very  large   percent  of  our  economy  is  dependent  on  direct  federal  outlays,  and  another   significant  portion  is  dependent  on  more  indirect  outlays  —  people  being  employed   by  the  government  and  such.  So,  I  think  most  people  recognize  that  federal  spending   has  to  come  down  at  some  point.  And  we  have  to  be  in  a  position  to  transition  our   economy.  And  the  best  way  to  do  that  is  to  make  it  as  free  as  possible,  to  have  an   educated  workforce,  to  have  entrepreneurs  who  feel  like  they  can  start  businesses   here.  And  I  think  that  will  naturally  happen,  as  long  as  we  don’t  drive  people   elsewhere  or  as  long  as  we  keep  our  laws  fairly  business  friendly  and  make  them   even  more  business  friendly  —  not  trying  to  pick  industries  that  are  going  to  do   better  than  others.       WD:  What  advantages  does  Virginia  have  as  a  state,  just  naturally,  without   economic  incentives  and  tax  breaks  from  the  state  to  certain  industries  or   companies?  

  Sarvis:  “I  think  we  have  a  lot  of  different  types  of  industries  that  can  really  expand   or  absorb  people  who  are  losing  jobs  elsewhere.  I  mean,  we  have  the  ability  to  be  a   dynamic  economy.  We  also  have  a  pretty  good,  educated  workforce,  in  terms  of  the   people  who  are  already  here,  whether  they  came  for  some  of  the  science  and   technology,  the  microchip  industry  is  sizeable  here,  lawyers.  And  you  know,  there’s   a  fair  number  of  computer-­‐science  type  people.  And  if  you  go  to  the  farming  regions,   you  see  a  transition  from  tobacco  to  soybeans  or  to  chickpeas.  I  saw  a  New  York   Times  articles  about  the  chickpea  industry  in  Virginia.  I  mean,  that’s  the  kind  of   thing  we  have  to  do  is  not  shield  people  —  not  shield  people  from  the  economic   changes  that  are  going  on  —  leave  people  to  come  up  with  their  own  ways.  Not  as   individuals  buffeting  the  storm,  but  as  communities,  as  businesses,  localities,  local   jurisdictions.  Really  helping  re-­‐train  work  forces  or  encouraging  businesses  to   change  the  direction  of,  not  look  to  government  for  contracts,  but  actually  look  for   other  ways  to  generate  revenues,  etc.       WD:  Another  state  policy  question  for  you.  What  are  your  thoughts  on  higher   education  —  how  much  the  state  should  be  supporting  that?     Sarvis:  “So  my  views  on  higher  education  are,  I  think  there’s  a  lot  of  demagoguery   on  higher  education,  where  anybody  who  isn’t  talking  about  just  increasing  the  aid   to  students  is  looked  at  as  anti-­‐education.  I  think  that’s  the  total  wrong  way  of   looking  at  it.  I  think  one  of  the  reasons  education  costs  have  gone  up  so  dramatically   is  a  lot  of  the  ways  in  which  we  subsidize  it.  I  think  that  a  lot  of  the  tuition  increases   merely  capture  the  benefits  that  we’re  trying  to  give  to  students,  the  tuition   increases  capture  that.  And  it  generally  goes  to  the  benefits  of  the  institutions,  the   higher  education  institutions  —  the  professors  and  the  institutions  that  have  more   prestige  because  of  that.  And  the  students  are  left  in  the  same  place,  only  with  much   more  debt  burdens  when  they  come  out.  So  how  do  you  get  past  that?  Well,  you   move  away  from  this  one-­‐size-­‐fits-­‐all  system.  A  lot  of  the  problems  that  we  have   through  occupational  licensure  —  there  are  a  lot  of  different  licensure  systems  and   accreditation  programs  that  really  lock  in  students  into  particular  tracks.  And  I  think   that  we  need  to  get  away  from  that,  and  stop  subsidizing  particular  paths.  Higher   education,  in  a  sense,  is  sort  of  a  subsidy  of  wealthy  people.  And  I  know  that  wealthy   people  appreciate  the  subsidies  and  don’t  want  to  vote  against  those  being  taken   away,  but  I  think  as  voters  have  recognized  the  tuition  increases  taking  away  all   those  advantages  that  we’re  trying  to  create  and  making  students  worse  off,  I  think   they’ll  be  open  to  different  solutions.  So,  I  think  that  if  we  had  a  better  system,  a   freer  economy,  a  freer  market  in  educational  services,  starting  in  very  early   education  and  going  all  the  way  up  through  higher  education,  we  can  move  to  a   system  that’s  much  more  dynamic,  that  has  a  lot  more  opportunities  for  people,  that   there  are  so  many  more  tracks  where  it’s  an  apprenticeship  of  jobs.  I  think  in  a  free-­‐ market  system  of  educational  services,  you  would  have  a  lot  more  companies  saying   hey,  we’ll  pay  for  you  to  get  a  degree  in  engineering,  and  you’ll  agree  to  work  with   us  a  certain  amount  throughout  the  year  and  for  a  few  years  afterwards.  And  those   kind  of  benefits  are  both  beneficial.  They  don’t  drain  the  public  fist.  And  they’re  

mutually  beneficial  to  the  student  and  to  the  corporation.  There  are  a  lot  of   programs  like  that  for  graduate  school.  There  aren’t  nearly  as  many  for  undergrad.   And  I  think  part  of  that  is  because  it’s  so  cheap  to  get  the  subsidized  student  loans   and  other  grant  processes.       WD:  Medicaid  expansion  under  the  Affordable  Care  Act  —  where  do  you  stand   on  that?     Sarvis:  “I  think  it’s  a  very  bad  idea  to  invest  in  the  federalization  of  our  healthcare.  I   think  that  there  are  things  we  can  do  at  the  state  level.  But  one  of  our  major   concerns  should  be  in  reversing  the  trend  of  federal  control  over  our  public  policy.  It   just  ties  our  hands.  It  ends  up  increasing  our  spending  so  that  the  spending  we  have   to  do  on  federal  programs  crowds  out  the  spending  that  we  want  to  do  at  the  state   and  local  level.  And  it  doesn’t  improve  our  health  outcomes  —  it  only  wastes  a  lot  of   money.  There  are  a  lot  of  things  we  can’t  control  directly  because  they’re  federal   programs.  But  I  think  that  a)  we  should  be  advocating  for  the  repeal  of  those   programs,  and  that  can  include,  there  are  a  lot  of  ways  to  do  that.  There’s  no  direct   mechanism.  But  there  are  a  lot  of  ways  to  express  our  displeasure,  certainly,  and  to   call  for  constitutional  amendments  or  appeal,  or  call  for  our  senators  to  act  in   certain  ways  with  regards  to  those  programs.  But  then  on  the  state  level,  we  can  do   a  lot  in  terms  of  a)  rejecting  the  Medicaid  expansion,  b)  coming  up  with  ways  to   make  Medicaid  more  efficient.  More  oversight  is  obviously  good,  but  a  change  in   focus  I  think  would  also  be  better.  The  supply  of  primary  care  is  something  that  we   could  make  huge  strides  on.  Virginia  has,  for  one  thing,  I  think  loosening   occupational  licensure  laws,  including  in  the  medical  field.  Right  now,  nurses  are   trying  to  do  more.  They  would  like  to  do  more.  They  have  the  capacity  and  the  skills   to  do  more,  but  they  are  not  allowed  to,  under  state  law.  And  we’ve  had  a  gradual   loosening  of  them,  but  they’re  still  somewhat  strict  in  that,  a  nurse  doesn’t  have   independent  practice.  Only  a  certain  number  of  them  can  work  with  one  particular   doctor.  So  I  think  we  should  get  rid  of  a  lot  of  those  things.  There  was  also,  I  think,   some  sort  of  pilot  program  for  rural  areas  that  don’t  have  a  lot  of  primary  care   doctors  where  nurses  could  work  independently.  The  argument  in  favor  of  that   really  applies  everywhere.  If  there  are  people  who  can’t  afford  doctors,  it  doesn’t   matter  if  someone  can’t  see  a  doctor  because  they  live  in  a  rural  area  where  there’s   not  enough  doctors,  so  the  price  to  see  one  is  high,  or  because  they  live  in  an  urban   area  where  the  rate  (of  people  per  doctor)  is  high  such  that  they  can’t  afford  to  see   one.  The  arguments  apply  to  both  situations.  We  should  let  people,  nurses   especially,  offer  whatever  services  they  feel  competent  to  offer,  and  not  use  this   licensing  system  to  keep  the  supply  of  primary  care  small  and  drive  up  costs.   There’s  a  lot  of  other  issues  like  that,  regulatory  issues.  We  have  such  a  backwards-­‐ healthcare  system,  and  we’re  just  making  it  worse  with  the  ACA  and  the  Medicaid   expansion  and  all  that  stuff.  We’re  moving  in  the  wrong  direction.”     WD:  Where  do  you  stand  on  the  abortion  issue?  As  a  Libertarian,  do  you  even   see  it  as  government’s  role  to  get  involved  in  it?    

Sarvis:  “I  think  it’s  a  really  hard  issue.  It  kind  of  goes  back  to  a  person’s   philosophical  commitments  or  metaphysics,  religion  and  stuff  like  that.  My  view  of  it   is,  I  think  it’s  a  really  difficult  issue.  I’m  fairly  moderate  on  it,  mostly  for  scope  of   government  reasons  and  rule  of  law  reasons.  I  think  that  you  can’t  use  criminal   prohibitions  on  something  where  there’s  not  overwhelming  public  support  for  it.  A   lot  of  times,  you’ll  see  laws  passed  that  criminalize  abortions  after  a  certain  amount   of  time  without  —  at  some  point,  between  conception  and  birth,  people’s  views   change.  The  percentage  of  people  who  are  willing  to  support  prohibitions  changes.   Over  half  of  abortions  occur  in  the  first  nine  weeks.  The  public  support  for  banning   those  is  really  low.  I  really  don’t  think  that  I  can  really  say  what  the  law  should  be.   It’s  a  hard  issue.  I  legitimately  think  it’s  a  hard  issue.  People  can  disagree  on  it.  And   what  I  don’t  like  is  sort  of  the  demonization  on  any  issue.  And  that  just  turns  me  off   to  the  entire  issue.  There  are  two  issues  where  I  think  that  the  Republicans  were   wrong  on,  and  those  are  the  two  bills  that  passed  in  the  past  few  years  —  the   ultrasounds  and  the  using  hospital  regulations,  applying  them  to  abortion  clinics.  I   think  the  pro-­‐life  people  should  have  been  against  these  on  rule  of  law  and  scope  of   government  as  well.  The  misuse  of  public  health  law  for  the  purpose  of  making   abortion  clinics  compliant  with  regulations  costly  enough  that  they  have  to  close  —  I   think  that’s  an  abusive  of  the  rule  of  law.  I  think  that’s  a  total  mistake.  The  trans-­‐ vaginal  ultrasound  requirement,  it  got  changed  to  an  ultrasound  that  just  goes  on  a   belly.  But  for  a  woman  to  go  in  to  get  a  procedure  that  is  legal  under  the  current  law   and  have  her  have  to  undergo  a  procedure  that  is  mandated  by  the  government,  that   just  strikes  me  as  just  wrong.  It’s  one  thing  to  try  and  convince  your  fellow  citizens   to  see  abortion  in  the  way  that  you  do,  as  protecting  life  and  therefore  that  we   should  ban  it  either  from  conception  or  from  this  point  on,  whatever.  But,  if  it’s   going  to  be  legal,  I  just  don’t  think  that  the  government  should  be  then  adding  on   these  mandates  of  what  doctors  must  do  with  their  patients,  etcetera.  And  I  think  it’s   a  little  bit  odd  to  argue  in  the  Obamacare  context,  that  government  should  not  be  in   the  room  with  a  person  and  his  or  her  doctor,  but  then  on  this  issue,  have  a  totally   different  viewpoint.  So  without  taking  an  absolutist  position,  we  should  be  able  to   agree  that  these  are  misuses  of  the  law.       WD:  Would  you  pursue  automatic  rights  restoration  for  those  who  have  been   convicted  of  felonies,  but  served  their  time?     Sarvis:  “I  strongly  am  in  favor  of  re-­‐enfranchizing  people  who  have  served  their   time  and  have  shown  themselves  to  be  capable  of  avoiding  recidivism.  It’s  a  little  bit   strange  that  people  are  talking  about  re-­‐enfranchizing  without  talking  about  a  major   reason  why  people  are  being  disenfranchised,  and  that  is  the  drug  war.  And  I  think   the  drug  war  is  a  huge  issue  that,  the  Republican  and  Democratic  parties  are  just   obtuse  on.  I  mean,  this  is  something  that  is  ruining,  that  has  ruined  and  continues   ruining  a  lot  of  communities  and  a  lot  of  families,  particularly  black  families.  It  leads   to  arrest  records  that  keep  people  from  being  employable.  When  we  send  a  lot  of   people  to  jail,  there  are  a  lot  of  kids  who  are  growing  up  without  fathers  in  their   house.  That’s  going  to  cause  problems.  The  incarceration  rates  in  America  are  very   high.  In  a  lot  of  areas,  there  are  no  jobs,  so  selling  drugs  is  one  of  the  few  things  that  

they  see  people  doing  that  can  put  money  on  the  table  for  their  families.  And  that   just  plays  into  another  aspect  of  the  problems  in  certain  localities,  which  is  land  use   and  zoning  ordinances  and  development  regulations  that  keep  jobs  out  of  certain   areas,  makes  it  hard  for  people  to  work  or  start  businesses.  And  that  drives  a  lot  of   people  into  drug  trafficking.  The  drug  issue  is  also  an  equality  and  issue  of   disparities,  in  terms  of  sentencing  and  who  gets  punished  and  who  gets  caught.  I   mean,  the  number  of  rich  white  kids  who  are  smoking  pot  in  their  dorm  rooms  —  I   think  the  legalization  of  marijuana  would  happen  a  whole  lot  quicker  if  those  people   were  being  caught  and  punished  at  the  same  rates  as  young  black  kids.       But  your  question  was  about  disenfranchisement,  and  I  think  that  the  path  that   people  go  from  using  drugs  and  then  selling  drugs  and  things  like  that,  is  affected  in   a  large  part  because  we  have  this  drug  war  —  the  criminalization  and  just  the   illegality  of  it  —  it  sends  a  lot  of  people  to  prison,  it  ruins  a  lot  of  lives,  and  it  results   in  a  lot  of  disenfranchisement.  If  we  legalized  marijuana  and  de-­‐criminalized  a  lot  of   other  things,  I  certainly  think  that  that  would  ameliorate  a  lot  of  these  problems.       But  your  question,  I  certainly  do  support  streamlining  the  process  of  re-­‐ enfranchisement.  A,  I  would  support  a  constitutional  change.  But  B,  I  personally   think  it  can  potentially  be  done  in  the  constitution.  So,  I’d  like  to  sit  with  it  and   explore  that,  too.       WD:  Anything  else  you’d  like  to  add?     Sarvis:  “In  terms  of  the  gun  control,  gun  rights  debate,  I’m  fairly  strong  on  gun   rights.  But  the  way  I  like  to  look  at  gun  control  is  if  you  want  to  make  a  big  dent  in   gun  violence  and  violent  crime,  again,  let’s  go  back  to  the  drug  war.  That’s  a  huge   reason  for  why  we  have  a  lot  of  the  violent  crime  that  we  do,  regardless  of  if  it’s  guns   or  not.  It’s  a  huge  reason  why  we  have  gun  trafficking.  We’re  doing  exactly  what  we   did  in  the  prohibition  era.  And  what  happened  in  the  prohibition  era  was,  when  we   got  rid  of  prohibition,  there  was  a  decade-­‐long  decrease  in  violent  crime.  And  there’s   no  reason  to  think  that  wouldn’t  happen  now.  We’ve  essentially  created  through  the   drug  war,  a  well-­‐funded,  well-­‐armed,  and  violent  world  of  violent  gangs,  organized   crimes,  and  etcetera.  A  large  portion  of  our  gun  crimes  and  violent  crimes  are   committed  by  those  gangs  and  organized  crime.  So  by  changing  policy  on  drugs,  we   can  have  a  huge  impact  on  the  things  that  we’re  trying  to  get  at  through  gun  control,   without  having  to  burden  law-­‐abiding  gun  owners.”    

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