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Tom Perriello, the Democrat seeking the 5th Congressional District seat held by Republican Virgil Goode, stopped by the Gingerbread Caf?onday on a tour though the district.
Perriello said that two areas at the top of his priority list are jobs and national security.
In order for people to have jobs, the workforce in the 5th District must become more competitive. He believes that outcompeting others is the only long-term economic solution for the area.
"That means more training and better education," he said.
Perriello believe that college needs to be more affordable. He also wants education for those who aren't college bound that will enable them to qualify for good jobs.
Along with education, he wants to see efforts made to recruit what he calls anchor industry for the next generation. Perriello mentioned energy economy jobs and green jobs as examples of next generation industry.
Strong downtowns with good infrastructure and low crime are also important for economic development and Perriello said that Bedford is a good example of both hope and concern. He said that Bedford is in better shape than many other areas in the district, although unemployment is ticking up.
"You want to build on success and there is a lot of success in Bedford," he said.
Perriello said that it will be important to invest in Bedford's future for the next 20 years and he believes that doing this will take a local/state/federal partnership.
He referred to getting smart answers to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as his primary national security thrust.
Perriello has some experience on the ground, as far as the war in Afghanistan goes. He said he was in that country as a professional security analyst in 2005 seeking political solutions to the military conflict.
"Afghanistan is a winnable conflict," Perriello said.
In order to win in Afghanistan, Perriello advocates a three pronged approach. First, the United States should engage Pakistan from a position of strength. Secondly, he believes we should cut our ties to corrupt Afghan warlords. He said that these warlords are undermining this nation's efforts. Finally, we need a plan to win the hearts and minds of Afghans living in the areas that the U.S. has already stabilized.
Perriello said that he has consulted with security experts and Iraqis on Iraq and believes that the solutions to that conflict are primarily political. He believes the solution is to, firstly, commit to a total withdrawal without implementing it. The second part of the solution is to get Sunnis to the table and negotiate a power sharing agreement.
"I have no desire to run against Congressman Goode," said Perriello of his opponent. "We want this to be about who will make a better change for the people of the 5th District."