Green Jobs in the Valley

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In the recession, lawmakers are looking at a variety of ways to attract new jobs to Virginia. On Tuesday, the focus was on green technology.

One of the men in the race to represent the Staunton area in the House of Delegates, Democratic candidate Erik Curren, is stressing green jobs.

Curren, along with 26th District candidate Gene Hart (D) and 25th District candidate Greg Marrow (D) met Tuesday to entice voters with part of their plan to boost the economy.

"We need some very serious economic stimulus, and it just so happens that the clean energy economy, according to economists, could be the biggest thing in America since the internet boom," says Curren, who is running to represent the 20th District.

"Focusing on one probably takes your eye off the big picture. I think we need to focus on lowering our rates of taxation, having appropriate regulation that can be enforced, and reducing the litigation in our courts," says Chris Saxman, a Republican who currently represents the 20th District.

Even in the relatively stable Valley economy, people are hurting. For example, in Page County unemployment is above 16 percent. Many people are looking for jobs anywhere they can get them.

Part of the call for green jobs includes solutions to Virginia's transportation problems. Curren pushes for rail lines to ease congestion on Interstate 81.

"This would save energy. It would save money. And, it would save us form having to build extra lanes on I-81, which are really unnecessary," says Curren.

"Having incentive money out there to create a specific job in a specific sector is a bit short-sighted. And, we really need to focus on the entire economy," says Saxman.

Tuesday's forum is among several for the Democrats running for the Valley's seats in the House of Delegates. Given the ongoing economic issues, there will be much more talk about jobs leading up to the fall election.