By SHANNON WATKINS
Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner traveled through southwestern Virginia this week on a routine visit to constituents and businesses from Loudon County to points south. We got to spend a few minutes on the phone with him talking about various issues. This is what he had to say.
Q: Is there anything you’d like the community to be informed of?
Right now we’ve got to get a 16 trillion dollar debt under control, and we can’t have a Democrat only or Republican only approach to it. We need a bipartisan approach. If we got a budget deal in place it would be the single best thing we could do for job growth. I’m trying to get that job done.
Q: There’s a tomato plant coming to Pulaski, which will provide jobs. Do you think agriculture will become a more important part of the nation’s economy?
I think agriculture will be appreciably growing. I think it’s coming back. People are going to want locally grown food. I know in Galax it’s still an appreciably strong area. Agriculture jobs are not something that’ll disappear.
Q: You toured the Phoenix plant yesterday. Usually we see American industry leaving for other countries. This company came to the U.S. from Colombia. Do you see this happening elsewhere, and do you think businesses relocation TO America will become a trend?
Yes, I do. Just the other day I toured a company from India, and Volkswagen, a German company, is now headquartered in Virginia. I think this is going to start to turn into a two-way street. Even with our problems, America is a good place to invest in. I think we’re going to see more countries investing in America.
Q: What prompted your change of stance on marriage equality?
Well, you know, I think my views, like a lot of people’s views, have evolved over the last 10 years. I think if two people are in love they should have the same rights under the law as everybody else. That’s a legal issue, not a religious one; no church should have to marry anyone they choose not to. But my three daughters were like, “Dad, why haven’t you changed yet?” I think this is the way things are going.
Q: Are you considering running for high office in the future?
Well, you know, I think too many politicians think about what they’re going to run for next. If I can get Democrats and Republicans working together, I think I might have other options. But right now I want to do the job they hired me for.