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Virginia's Gubernatorial Candidates Address NVTC Members at Technology Town Hall Forum

NVTC and co-host Microsoft hosted a technology town hall forum with Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAulliffe on Wednesday, June 20, at Microsoft’s Reston offices. In front of an audience of nearly 200 technology business leaders, the candidates shared their views on business and technology-related issues and what they would do to encourage Va.’s growth if elected as governor.

During the forum, the candidates provided remarks and answered questions from a panel of business leaders including NVTC Vice Chair and Incoming Chairman Sudhakar Kesavan, CEO of ICF International, Fred Humphries, vice president of U.S. Government Affairs at Microsoft, and Carolyn Parent, chief experience officer and co-founder of Gravy. In addition, following the panel Q&A, each candidate responded to audience questions. Both candidates shared their views on topics such as transportation, job creation, business tax reform, technology, sequestration, Va.’s workforce, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

From left, Carolyn Parent, McAuliffe, NVTC President & CEO Bobbie Kilberg, Cuccinelli, Sudhakar Kesavan, Fred Humphries
(L-R) Carolyn Parent, McAuliffe, NVTC President & CEO Bobbie Kilberg, Cuccinelli, Sudhakar Kesavan, Fred Humphries

In his remarks, McAuliffe explained that transportation would be a top priority if he is elected governor, stating that the Commonwealth has to have the most efficient system possible in order for Va.’s economy to grow. He also expressed his support for incentives to attract businesses to Va., stating “we have to be competitive and it has to make economic sense,” and highlighting the need to be competitive against local neighbors like Maryland and on a global basis, with a focus on cybersecurity, modeling and simulation and manufacturing. McAuliffe also expressed his desire to focus on workforce development and increasing technology jobs.

Terry McAuliffe discusses technology and business policy during the Technology Town Hall Forum.
Terry McAuliffe discusses technology and business policy during the Technology Town Hall Forum.

During Cuccinelli’s remarks, he emphasized job creation, stating that it would be his number one job if elected governor. Noting the current and future impacts of sequestration, he expressed his opinion that we must rely on the private sector to lead the way in diversifying Virginia’s economy. Cuccinelli stressed that business incentives must be used with caution, stating that “it’s something you’ve got to be careful with because you don’t want to be giving unfair advantages to some folks…to come here, paid for effectively by the folks who have already put roots down in Va.” He also highlight the need to strengthen Va.’s middle class and support veterans, and highlighted his involvement in the community and experience as attorney general.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli shares his views on technology and business policy on June 20.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli shares his views on technology and business policy on June 20.

Both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli stressed the importance of improved transportation in Va., but the candidates differed in their solutions to the state’s transportation challenges. McAuliffe, saying he would like to be known as the “transportation governor” if elected, stated that “businesses will not come to Va. if they are stuck in traffic,” and emphasized his support of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation bill passed this year in the General Assembly. Cuccinelli indicated that while he did not support the transportation legislation, he would not try to alter the plan if elected because he feels Va. needs to move forward – “we have more to do,” he stated. He said that he would be advocating for changes in land use policy and more local control over transportation decisions as governor.

Both candidates also spoke about the importance of STEM education and strengthening Va.’s workforce. McAuliffe stated that “STEM graduates are a top priority,” and Va. has “to build alternative sources of job activity” to strengthen its workforce across the Commonwealth, including in under-developed rural areas. He also stressed the need for Va. to continue to compete with Md. and other states in terms of education and incentives for businesses to come to the state. Cuccinelli placed an emphasis on education as well, saying “STEM is definitely a direction I want to see us go, as well as focusing on workforce development.” Cuccinelli discussed workforce development several times throughout his remarks, saying that “workforce needs to be driven by the demand side,” and that Va. needs to make business and workforce connections in companies big and small, making the state a magnet for all types of businesses. “Va. has been best in business for 30 years, but we've got competition,” he said. Cuccinelli’s “ultimate goal is job creation.”

McAuliffe and Cuccinelli also touched on social issues. McAuliffe stated that Va. cannot put up walls and must be open and welcome to all in order to continue to be a leading state. Cuccinelli asserted his position as a defender of life and families, but stated that he did not believe he had overdone social issues as attorney general and stressed that his administration would be focusing on jobs and the economy, “because I think that’s what the overwhelming proportion of Virginians care about.” The candidates also discussed how they would utilize the Virginia secretary of technology position to promote growth and manage state level IT expenditures, and answered audience questions about business incentives, tax reform and weathering sequestration, among other topics.

The Candidates' opening statements

Terry McAuliffe

Ken Cuccinelli

Media Links:

Audio
The Associated Press (The Washington Post)
Politico
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Washington Business Journal
The Washington Examiner
The Washington Post

Video
WCAV
WJLA
WRC-TV
WTTG
WUSA