Stafford Local: Austion wants to create opportunity through education

See Laquan's answers for Potomac Local's Project: Election survey here.

PL: What are the top three major issues facing voters in your district?

Austion: Transportation, Education, Fostering an environment for opportunities and upward mobility

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?

Austion: One of the most pressing issues facing this district is the daily frustration of traffic in our region. Whether it’s the long commutes to work, or just traffic families face trying to get to the grocery store, it’s a major quality of life issue. Greater collaboration between the state and local government is needed in terms of planning for the future. Currently the government is reactionary in terms of solving problems, instead the government needs to be more proactive in foreseeing problems.

Being one of the first members of my family to go to college, I know the impact a quality education can have on someone’s life. Education has become the gateway for opportunity. We need to begin to think differently about education. That starts with diversifying education opportunities by offering skills and trade based training and education options. As a society, we owe every child a quality education that allows them to pursue their passions. Our schools must be able to not only attract the best We need to begin to think differently about education. That starts with diversifying education opportunities by offering skills and trade based training and education options. As a society, we owe every child a quality education that allows them to pursue their passions. Our schools must be able to not only attract the best teachers, but also retain them. I support incentivizing quality teachers to stay in Stafford and Prince William counties, while giving parents more power and choice over their children’s education.

People in this district are doing everything they can to improve the quality of life for them and their families. They need an environment that will allow them to thrive and pursue new opportunities. I was able to work my way out of poverty and into the middle class but seizing on opportunities provided by the free market. It’s crucial that the state government foster’s an environment that creates opportunities, encourages entrepreneurs, and limits over burdensome regulations. It’s the free market, not handout’s that creates true upward mobility, and opportunities for individuals to improve their quality of life. I’ll be a strong advocate of policies that help create that environment, and also encourage entrepreneurs to take that scary leap into starting up a business.

PL: From your perspective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

Austion: Simple — to be an outside the box servant leader in order to improve the quality of life for everyone in Stafford and Prince William Counties.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Austion: I bring a lifetime of experiences, from being homeless, to working my way through college, and eventually achieving the American dream. In my role with Lyft, I testify against the over burdensome regulations and job-stifling policies of government. My expertise in understanding these regulations and how the cost is truly passed onto the consumer, will guide my decisions in fostering an environment that keeps taxes low and job killing regulations away. I feel well-qualified to solve complex problems tasked in this role but more importantly I think we often fail to mention the emotional intelligence this job requires. People are tired of hearing how smart politicians think they are and how much we think we have accomplished in the past. Instead, we need to start focusing on how we can better serve them and their families. That requires a remarkable ability to stop talking and just listen. I know how hard it is to truly achieve a better life, that understanding and compassion will be a constant driver of my decisions.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well informed and understands the workings of state government? If not, how do you intend on improving communication with your constituency?

Austion: I do feel that the average citizen is informed. However, I feel that representatives need to do a better job proactively engaging their constituents. Servant Leadership is looking for proactive ways to enhance the quality of life for the people you serve. One of my key priorities will be engaging and meeting every constituent in the district and making myself accessible. I also think it is important to add an additional level of transparency by how we govern. I will be hosting weekly coffee & conversations, leverage technology to do virtual tele-town halls, and will be visiting every precinct in the district even after I’m elected. I will go as far as giving every constituent my personal cell phone number.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you?

Austion: I have vowed to run this campaign without taking money from for-profit interests. When it comes down to making hard decisions, this lets people feel confident that I am making those decisions with the best interests of the residents — and ONLY the best interests of the residents — in mind.

This article appeared in Stafford Local on 2/13/2017.