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Style asked Tim Kaine and Jay Katzen to tell our readers why they think they should be elected lieutenant governor in the upcoming election. Here are their responses:

The Race for No. 2

Tim Kaine, Democratic Candidate

It is an uncomfortable time for politics. In the wake of the national tragedy of Sept. 11 and the subsequent military action, campaigning seems somewhat insignificant. We all continue to mourn those who we have lost, and pray for the men and women of our armed services who will see us through this difficult time.

We also give thanks. We give thanks for the men and women who have participated so heroically in the rescue effort; for the American spirit which has soared in the aftermath of this attack; for our military leaders who will guide us to victory in this war against terrorism; and for our democracy and the opportunity to settle our disagreements with ballots, not bullets. Although it is hard to concentrate on political campaigns at the moment, it is important — as President Bush has urged — to keep our country and our democracy moving forward. Recently, in fact, New Yorkers went to the polls to decide on their nominees for mayor. And in less than one month, Virginians will go to the polls to elect our next governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

It is critical that we recognize the importance of this election. Over the last 10 years our political system in Virginia has deteriorated into one that often values partisanship over progress, name-calling over negotiation and showmanship over success. Unfortunately, this phenomenon has started to dramatically affect the lives of the working families of this commonwealth. The failure of the current governor and General Assembly to pass a budget this year is a case-in-point.

I am running for lieutenant governor because I believe that we need new leadership in Virginia — leadership that transcends the petty bickering and partisan gridlock that has become all too commonplace. We must refocus our government on issues that matter to the families of Virginia: strengthening public safety, providing for public education, improving our transportation system and fighting to keep our economy strong.

As mayor of Richmond, I worked to unite people around common goals, creating new good-paying jobs and growing our economy through tax cuts to local businesses and citizens while building five new schools and helping to improve the test scores of our students. I worked to implement Project Exile, a tough gun-safety initiative praised by the NRA and law enforcement that has helped us make dramatic reductions in violent crime.

The success of our commonwealth in the future will depend on the same collaboration I have fostered as mayor — collaboration across regional lines, collaboration across racial lines, and perhaps most importantly, collaboration across party lines. Now more than ever, it's time we set political divisions aside to work together to improve the quality of life for Virginia's families. It is critical that we pull together to work toward bringing fiscal responsibility, economic growth, improved public safety and educational opportunities to all areas of the commonwealth. As lieutenant governor I will continue to bring people together to make Virginia even better.

Jay Katzen, Republican Candidate

I have spent the past several months traveling to every corner of the commonwealth, listening to Virginians from every walk of life. That is a key element of my political philosophy — trusting the wisdom and ideas of the people.

My No.1 priority is making sure Virginia and her people are safe and secure. I look forward to drawing on my experience to assure this.

We have seen how the fragile balance of even the most robust economy requires constant vigilance. I will put my 36 years of experience as a Foreign Service officer, and international and domestic business consultant to work for all Virginians.

I'm looking forward, as a full-time lieutenant governor, to meeting with out-of-state and overseas businesses to recruit jobs for the people of Virginia and find new markets for our products. We can bring companies that aren't happy with rolling brownouts: companies that find our right-to-work appealing.

It's not enough to just spout platitudes about boosting high-tech development. Without real action, such as building better roads or ensuring that all Virginia localities, including rural areas, have the infrastructure to support high-tech growth, those are just empty promises.

A vigorous campaign for economic growth is crucial, and a critical component of that campaign must be transportation improvements. The economy will waste away if the roads that are its lifeline are choked with gridlock.

I have been a commuter and know what it is like to spend hours each day locked in traffic just to make a living to support your family. This is an added cost in quality of life. It drains hardworking Virginians and robs families of valuable time better spent together.

I worked my way through college, cutting hot linoleum in a factory and even playing minor league baseball at $16 a game. I know a quality education for all Virginia's youngsters is the key to a bright future — for our children and for the commonwealth.

Virginia can't thrive without the best public schools, and we must sustain what is best in our public schools while making them better. But Virginia must help to meet the needs of all our children. A cookie-cutter approach won't do.

School choice has been distorted by some who fail to share my commitment to the basic fairness of empowering parents to decide what is best for their child and of denying no child a quality education. I support tax credits — not vouchers — to encourage private donations for scholarships to allow lower-income families a choice between other public schools, private schools and home schooling. The courts have agreed that it takes not one penny of state funding from public schools.

In my eight years in the Virginia House of Delegates, I cast affirmative votes as Gov. Allen abolished parole, reformed welfare and strengthened juvenile justice.

We must keep our state government on the path to common sense solutions. Experience counts, leadership matters and we are prepared to lead.

Opinions expressed on the Back Page are those of the writers and not necessarily those of Style Weekly.

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