Thursday, October 24, 2013

Obenshain Op Ed: The Experience to Solve Problems

October 24, 2013

The following op ed ran in today's Richmond Times-Dispatch

Obenshain: The experience to solve problems

I'm running for attorney general for two main reasons: to keep our communities safe and to make sure that Virginia continues to be a magnet for job creation.

When I was 16, I witnessed the largest political convention in American history at that time, lasting well past midnight. I'm sure I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, but the next morning, I sat with my dad, Richard Obenshain, at a breakfast in Richmond to celebrate his winning the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. One of the men he ran against, John Warner, entered the room, shook his hand and offered to help him in any way he could — and they put their fight behind them.

This year, I ran against another dedicated public servant, Del. Rob Bell, for the nomination for attorney general, and while we had our differences, I've been grateful to have his support and advice in the months since our contest. He joined me last month as we announced plans to combat child predators and help victims, with ideas from cracking down on the manufacture of child pornography to promoting the use of courthouse dogs to comfort and reassure child victims.

In my 26 years practicing law and in my 10 years serving in the state Senate, I have found that we govern best by reaching out to Republicans, Democrats and Independents, finding common ground and not worrying about who gets the credit. The vast majority of the work we do has nothing to do with party labels or partisanship and everything to do with problems that can be solved with the right leadership and a little resolve.

That's what I have done in the state Senate on issues like campus safety and protecting families from predators and abusive spouses. And I'll bring that bipartisan leadership to the office of the Attorney General.

My top priorities will be keeping our communities safe and keeping Virginia's economy strong. I was honored to receive the endorsement of Virginia's Fraternal Order of Police, representing more than 7,500 men and women in law enforcement, as well as the endorsements of 116 Republican, Democratic and Independent sheriffs and prosecutors from across the commonwealth. These are men and women who serve on the front lines, who compared my record and plans with my opponent's and chose to support me because they know that I will make public safety the priority it deserves to be.

I joined Frank Wolf to roll out a series of proposals to combat human trafficking and provide support for victims, including making trafficking a stand-alone felony. We have made great strides on this front in the past few years, but as criminals and gangs adapt and change their tactics, we must work to stay ahead of them.

We can't have safe communities without a strong economy — or a strong economy without safe communities. I have a 100 percent lifetime rating in the Senate from the National Federation of Independent Business, representing 5,500 small businesses, and as attorney general I will renew an emphasis on regulatory review to make sure our policies position Virginia for job creation and economic growth.

I have proposed reforms to our ethics and transparency laws and pledged that, even without action from the General Assembly, my office and I will abide by a ban on gifts over $100 and that we will put in place a transparent, competitive and accountable process for when the attorney general's office contracts with outside counsel. The people of Virginia deserve to know that their elected officials are in office to serve them, not for personal gain.

Every March, when I leave the General Assembly and return to the 50-employee law firm I helped start from scratch 11 years ago, I make the transition from legislating to serving my clients and providing them with sound legal advice. Virginia faces some significant challenges in the next several years in coping with sequestration, ensuring that revenues from the transportation bill actually go toward meaningful congestion relief and dealing with the ever-evolving threats we face from gangs and other criminal enterprises.

I'm ready to step in and tackle big problems on Day One, and I'll do it as I always have: by working with others, finding solutions and forging bipartisan agreements. It's critically important that we have an attorney general who will be grounded in Virginia law and who is committed to defending our laws and Constitution, whether they personally agree with the policies or not.

That's the kind of attorney general I'll be, and I hope that I can earn your vote on Nov. 5.

Mark Obenshain is the Republican candidate for the office of attorney general of Virginia.


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