Susan Stimpson is currently the Chairman of the Stafford Board of Supervisors. Chairwoman Stimpson is campaigning to run as the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in this state’s fall election. Susan graduated from Mary Washington College with a BA. She attended the University of West Florida, graduating with an MPA. Stimpson also served as the Chairwoman of the Stafford County Republican Committee. She is married and a mother of two.
VV: Why do you want to be lieutenant governor?
HSS: It’s not that I want to be Lieutenant Governor, but it is that I want to protect our freedoms and to keep government within the boundaries that I think it should be. I think government has a purpose, and that is to secure and defend our right to life, to liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Unfortunately, we’re seeing it exponentially grow at the federal level, the state level, and in many cases the local level. When that happens people’s freedoms are taken away and they can’t make decisions for themselves and their families. Real freedom, I believe, is the key to the prosperity of America; I think that’s been the foundation and the basis for our success. We can make a decision on how I want to innovate, what do I want to do with my money, where do I want to go to school, and where do I want to worship. I think that is what has made America so successful. I want to not only protect those liberties, but to expand them. And right now, those liberties are under assault, and I’m in the fight.
VV: With which of the Founding Fathers do you identify, and why?
HSS: If I had to narrow it down to one then I would say George Washington, but there are pieces of each Founding Father that I love. I love George Washington’s leadership; James Madison’s strength of his ability to study every government that existed and how his mind was able to help bring that together into the government we have today; John Adams’ steadfast faith and strength of will; and Jefferson’s ability to put into words what our dreams are. So it’s difficult to put it into one.
VV: Which of the issues that is currently facing Stafford, do you think is unique that you, as a member of the Board of Supervisors is contending with, troubles you the worst?
HSS: I think that the issues have changed. When I first came in, what was unique in Stafford was the regressive business tax BPOL, the property rates assault that we were under. So it was that first cut that we took, in actually rolling back those taxes, and restoring the property rights. Today, I would say that there is the danger of complacency. Because we have been successful, we’ve cut taxes every year I’ve been in office, and we have rolled back the size of government, that we have to be watchful that we don’t allow it to slowly grow back, and that we don’t let go of the vigilance.
VV: You passed a number of bills since you were elected the Board of Supervisors, you had a few votes, you’ve made some decisions. Legislatively speaking, which is your greatest regret?
HSS: I wish I had cut taxes more. I wish I had pushed even harder on it. I’m very proud of the record in cutting taxes that we have, but I think we could have done more.
VV: A number of Republicans have run as conservatives, claimed they’re conservative, and then they get into office and they don’t really vote that way. Would you categorize your voting record, from a fiscal standpoint, as conservative?
HSS: Yes, it’s conservative. I operate from a compass and there’s a framework. But as I stated earlier, I wish we had cut taxes even more, but we have been successful in cutting taxes.
And you’d be surprised how the social conservative issues also influence at the local level as well. Yes, I do describe my record as conservative. As I was considering this run for lieutenant governor, when I first came up with the framework of the speech when I announced, one of the lines that I would say is, all Republicans running for office talk about a limited government, but I’ve done it. And that is why I do believe having a record, and looking at someone’s record, is the best testament of what you can best guess that person is going to do, once they’re in office.
As far as my record goes in Stafford: we eliminated the business tax BPOL, cut overall real estate taxes three years in a row, took our general admin staff down to 2004 levels, eliminated the boat tax, zeroed-out a tax service district, zeroed-out an impact fee, eliminated machinery and tool’s tax, eliminated the motor vehicle’s carrier tax each year; it’s just a walking back of taxes. But we also adopted strict financial guidelines that put a self-imposed debt ceiling on ourselves, that would walk down the amount of total debt we could have. So we’ve been walking down the percentage of debt.
VV: How will you use your position as lieutenant governor to influence the legislative process?
HSS: I think, in whatever position we are, whether it’s in the private or public sector, we should be taking this sphere of influence that we have and we should be using that influence to move the ball forward on conservative principles. Because I think that having those principles and policies– that’s what is best for our country. So, from the standpoint of chairman of the board in Stafford County, I have used the influence of that position to find my coalitions, to continue to move the ball forward on conservative principles.
The role of lieutenant governor, constitutionally, is to preside over the Senate, but right now, we have a 20-20 vote. You could say it’s just a tie-breaking vote. And maybe if we had had someone in that role, that was willing to use the leverage of that tie-breaking vote on conservative issues, that maybe we would have achieved more than what we have. From my standpoint, I know I don’t technically vote on the budget, but they’re going to count on my vote. So there is a leverage in the next two years, on that tie-breaking vote. I can promise you that I’m not just going to break a tie for Republicans, if they’re going to raise taxes or expand entitlements; that I plan on building the coalitions like I have at the local level, as I did as chairman of the Republican party; to continue to push forward on conservative principles and accountability, and putting pressure on the people that I serve with, to persuade and win on the conservative issues. I’ve been asked that question a couple of times, and the part about it that surprises me is, I am an optimist, so I would never come in with a defeatist attitude, and think, well, it’s just a ceremonial role.
VV: Is the current Virginia state budget too large, and if it is, in your opinion, how would you shrink it?
HSS: Yes, of course that is what I would say. I’ve looked at the Virginia budget. I know that from the beginning of Virginia to 1997, that’s how long it took to double; and then from 1997 to the next ten years, it doubled, so it’s really been exponentially growing. You get these technical terms from people; well, the general fund hasn’t, but the non-general fund has, while they’ve taken things and moved them over to the non-general fund. So where would I cut? I know that they increased personnel positions by over 3,000 last year; I know that, at the local level, we have cut our general positions down to 2004 levels. And in looking at those positions, they decreased public safety by 600 positions, but agriculture and natural resources went up in the positive, so something’s not right. I think that there are reform ideas that we’ve done in Stafford County as well: the one-stop shop for business, combining departments, eliminating departments, those would be some of the approaches that I would have.
VV: Currently, there’s an oil boom in Nebraska. Virginia has natural gas off of its coast, we have uranium, and we have coal. What would you do as lieutenant governor, to help bring these three natural resources to market?
HSS: Well, certainly, coal is the cheapest form of energy for us and it’s a fantastic energy source. I know, from the state caving on entitlements and giving into Obamacare, I see the same defeatist attitude on the regulations that we’re just accepting from the EPA. I would be pushing back much more aggressively on that, putting pressure on our congressional delegation, putting pressure on our U.S. senators that represent us, to push back on those regulations. As far as uranium, it is completely necessary for nuclear power and we’re putting ourselves in a position where we’re depending on foreign nations to provide that for us, when we have an abundance here. I believe, that as long as we can determine that it’s safe, then I fully support using that energy source as well. And as far as offshore drilling, I don’t see any aggressive move on our state, on the governor, pushing for offshore drilling; that is just another untapped resource for us. You want to talk about solving your transportation problems, look at the amount of oil that’s offshore. I see the environmental lobby as being very effective at muzzling any real attempt for us to really push forward on these energy ideas. I think we need to stop fearing these lobbies and just understand what’s at stake if we don’t become energy independent, and we’re not right now.
VV: Liberty has a number of aspects, and many of these aspects are enshrined in the Constitution. Which aspect of all the various liberties that we have, is most important to you?
HSS: Well, if you don’t have life, then liberty and the pursuit of happiness don’t matter. And the sacredness of life, I believe, is what is the foundation of us as human beings is. I see a movement in our culture, that only those who are productive seem to have value, but I believe that every life has value. So the most important aspect of liberty is life; because if you don’t have life, then the others don’t really matter.
VV: How do you think the Dillon Rule plays in the legislation that gets passed by the Senate and the House?
HSS: The Dillon Rule — we’re one of five states in the nation that uses it. Our Constitution says that it is the General Assembly that shall levy the taxes and the concept behind that is the idea to keep control of the amount of taxes that are actually passed.
I have a respect for the local governments, because I do believe that power disbursed locally is best. One of the things that I’ve observed in my term as supervisor is, we do everything at the pleasure of the state; they authorize us. There have been a lot of unfounded mandates that have been passed down to local government, so government has grown really in secret. So one of the reforms that I would like to bring to the state- yes, they do have the authority, and they do have the power to tell the localities what they can do, but they need to hold themselves to the same standard. Right now, we don’t have budget transparency at the state level and they require the localities to have that. I believe transparency, conservative principles, win in every day. So how would I apply that reform, the Dillon Rule? Just a respect of the localities, residents, and voters; and just having transparency in the budget process. Because, how do you control people? You control the money. And that’s one of the aspects of the Dillon Rule that I would want to work within those constraints to perform.
VV: There have been a number of straw polls. Given how you’ve performed in these different polls throughout the state, what do you think your position looks like going into the convention, currently?
HSS: Well, a good poll has a weighted vote to it and you have to look at the statistics of it. I’m not sure that there’s a real scientific poll that’s been done on this race. But the one fact I do know, that our campaign, by far, has recruited more pre-filed delegates than any other campaign; none of them come close to us. So with that being said, it’s our job now to talk to those delegates and get them to show up to the convention. I believe that we are in a very strong position to win this. I also believe that our campaign has the right message, because it’s really about the power of the grassroots; it’s about doing what you say you’re going to do, keeping your campaign promise; do you believe in our Republican creed, or not? And I believe in it; my actions and my record reflect that and that’s why I’m speaking out so strongly. I believe that the mechanics of the campaign, we’ve done well. But I also believe when you bring the two of those together, our message and mechanics, that we have a really good shot at winning this.
VV: There are seven candidates running. All of them claim to be conservative, all of them claim to be good Republicans; what sets you apart?
HSS: My record; without a doubt, it’s my record. All the candidates running talk about a limited government, but I have done it. Every year I’ve been in office I have cut taxes, in one way or another. And I’m the only candidate, who has held elected office, who’s never voted for a tax increase; I’m the only one. I also believe that it is my philosophy and view of the role of government; it’s the right one. So I believe that it’s my record and my ability of really finding the coalitions to actually move the ball forward on those conservative principles; that’s what sets me apart.
VV: Why vote is for you?
HSS: If you are satisfied with the direction of our federal government, our state government, and your local government, then I’m not your candidate. And if you live in Stafford County, I’d be satisfied, but then… I think the way that we’ve been doing things is not working. I’m not seeking to be someone; I’m seeking to do something. I would be honored to become the lieutenant governor and to have the opportunity to put into place the conservative principles that I have in Stafford County, to bring that same success to all of Virginia, to have an opportunity to fight for those principles and liberties, to be a watchdog, and a good steward of the taxpayers’ resources.