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Three seeking 14th District House seat
Martin: Education is tied to economy

Sunday, October 27, 2013

By STORIES BY SAM JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer

Mary Martin, a former member of the Henry County School Board, makes education her top priority in her campaign for the 14th District Virginia House of Delegates seat Nov. 5, saying economic recovery cannot happen without it.

“With any campaign, your main priority has got to be jobs and the economy,” she said. “Education goes hand in hand with that.”

Martin, an independent who originally is from Irisburg, said she has a heart for education and hopes to make reforms to benefit local teachers.

“I don’t feel that we are doing what we should do to support public education,” she said. “Some of the ideas (the General Assembly) float around would take away from public education.”

Specifically, Martin spoke out against House Bill 576 and Senate Bill 438, which would have changed the nature of teacher and administrator contracts by changing or eliminating seniority-based contracts. The measure was pushed by Gov. Bob McDonnell, who claimed it would allow teachers to be assessed and rewarded yearly.

However, Martin said the measure also was intended to make it easier to fire those who don’t perform up to par.

“Their justification was we have no way to get rid of bad teachers,” she said. “That is absolutely false.”

In addition to keeping that measure from reappearing, Martin said she wants to see the state increase its education budget. That includes keeping the allotment of funds the state gets from lottery drawings separate from the education budget.

The two are kept in the same pot now, she said.

“It gives you really a false look at what the state is paying” for education, she said.

Martin also said she believes the region needs more dual enrollment courses such as those available through Patrick Henry Community College, but she warns that not every student is cut out for college. More needs to be done for those students as well, she said.

“(Dual enrollment is) wonderful, (but) we can also return a lot of our vocational education to our local schools that’s been taken out,” she said.

For students who seek vocational education instead of college, “We need to have those kids ready to have a piece of paper in their hand when they graduate” saying they are ready and trained to work, Martin added.

“The 14th District is a crown jewel” for educating the local workforce “for whatever jobs come this way,” she said.

However, Martin said she believes the General Assembly is doing business a disservice by putting too much “red tape” in the way.

“We’ve got to keep taxes low. We’ve got to offer tax incentives” for new companies, she said. Martin also said the state must do more to keep utilities low for businesses.

“We need to streamline the process” of allowing permits for small businesses to get up and running, she said. “We’ve got to be small business friendly and big business hopeful.”

Martin said she wants to help ensure Virginia remains a right to work state, meaning the state cannot force any worker to join a union.

She also said she opposes uranium mining in Pittsylvania County.

Martin supports HB 1430, which would expand the definition of agriculture to help farmers increase revenue. Martin said she wants farmers to have freedom to sell what they produce “without government interference.”

The bill was killed earlier this year by a Senate panel. Martin hopes to see it revived and passed.

She also supports the Farm Freedom Act and the Food Freedom Act, two measures that would extend farmers’ rights to sell what they grow. “I look forward to being co-sponsor on both of those bills,” she said.

As an independent, Martin said she seeks only an opportunity to serve and then let the people of the district evaluate her performance.

“I’ve not asked for any money,” she said. “I’ve only asked for people to vote for me.” She added that if she were elected and her constituents weren’t pleased with her work, she would not seek another term.


Name: Mary Martin

Address: Martinsville

Age: 61

Education: Patrick Henry Community College

Occupation (past and present): Manager, Tarheel Tobacco; Eastern Hospitality; Martinsville Phillies; American Furniture; Pannill Knitting

Memberships (past and present): Henry County School Board; Community Storehouse Board of Directors; Salvation Army; Professional Secretaries International; American Heart Association; Ridgeway Rescue Squad

Family: Daughters, Melissa Blair and Teresa Evans; son, Joseph Haskins; five granddaughters; three grandsons


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