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Rasoul seeks 6th District Seat

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By John Barnhart

Sam Rasoul, a Democrat from Botetourt County, hopes to be the next person to represent the 6th Congressional District in the House of Representatives.

The seat is currently held by Congressman Bob Goodlatte. Rasoul was recently in Bedford for the grand opening of the Bedford City and County Democratic Committees' headquarters.

Rasoul was born in Ohio, but has lived in Virginia since he was 3. He graduated from Roanoke College, in Salem, in 2002 and holds a master's degree in international business from Hawaii Pacific University. He owns a video store in Bedford County and he and his wife, Layaly, own a women's fitness center in Botetourt County.

He said he is running to give a voice to middle class America, which has been taken away by lobbyists and the money they offer. Lobbyists, he said, control political action committee (PAC) dollars and this gives them disproportionate influence. A systemic reform is needed so that issues can be discussed and objective solutions can be found.

"I don't take a dime, myself, from these PACs and lobbyists," Rasoul commented.

Rasoul, who also said he opposes earmarks, called for increased transparency in Congress. He said that it's important for people to know what is being done with tax dollars and whether anybody is getting special favors.

Comprehensive campaign finance reform is important to him. Rasoul wants publicly financed elections. He believes that this will reduce the power of lobbyists and special interests.

America's dependency on foreign oil is a national security issue and he says the nation needs to find alternate energy sources so that it isn't dependent on what happens in the Persian Gulf. One alternate source is corn-based ethanol, although Rasoul believes that that is not the entire answer.

"Unfortunately, there are so many repercussions of corn-based ethanol," he said.

He noted deriving fuel from this source hurts small farmers and drives up food costs. He favors lifting the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol, saying that this will benefit American consumers.

On health care, Rasoul supports a publicly subsidized, privately delivered system. He said he supports HR-676. This bill would set up a United States national health insurance program. Participating providers in the program would have to be public or non-profit institutions and patients would have free choice of participating providers. There would be no deductibles or copayments for covered services. It calls for paying for these services by using existing federal revenues for health care, increasing personal income taxes on the top 5 percent of income earners, a progressive tax on payroll and self-employment income and a tax on stock and bond transactions.

Rasoul said that he would like to see better mental health care for young veterans. According to Rasoul, veterans are more than twice as likely to become homeless. He added that family absences due to deployments damages service families.

Furthermore, he said he is a strong supporter of Senator Jim Webb's G. I. Bill that will help young veterans obtain higher education.

"I'm all for helping someone help himself," he said.