Apr 20, 2010

Garrett hosts first town hall meeting in Lynchburg

by Melinda Zosh

Delegate Scott Garrett held his first local town hall meeting at the Lynchburg Public Library on Tuesday, April 13. Garrett touched on health care, off-shore drilling and education among other issues.

Liberty University and Lynchburg College are two of the largest consumers of TAG grants in the state, according to Garrett. State budget cuts to education have forced many local districts to shut down several of their schools, but Garrett has fought to try to preserve higher education, he said.

“Education took a big hit, and one way of trying to blunt that are grants to pay for school particularly for students who do not have the economic means to pay for education,” Garrett said.

Freshman Sean Maguire was one of about six students in attendance. He was disappointed that more young people did not come out to the event, he said.

“I was discouraged when I first came in, because everyone was gray-haired except for (a few of us) in the back,” Maguire said. “(Young) people should take more of an interest in what is going on.”

Garrett noted that he co-patroned 42 bills since this year’s session began in the General Assembly in January.

“I have spent a lot of time on your behalf in Richmond,” Garrett said. “It is important for everyone to believe that their voice matters.”

That was not his only accomplishment, according to Maguire. As a freshman delegate, Garrett was assigned to the finance committee, a rare accomplishment for even experienced state legislators, Maguire said.

During the question-and-answer period, one resident asked if Garrett knew exactly how much revenue off-shore drilling would bring to the state and the local economy.

Garrett said that he did not know the exact number, but he knows that it will create thousands of new jobs for the area, especially with the trucking industry, he said.

“I am pleased that (President) Obama has allowed off-shore drilling, but there will be no drilling until safety and security have been addressed,” Garrett said.

On a local level, Garrett sees Liberty University as a major contributing factor to the growth of Lynchburg. It is the “largest employer, the largest charitable giving institution and largest economic development tool,” he said.

“I do not get caught up in faith-based issues. I am concerned that (Liberty) is a business that just makes sense,” Garrett said.

As a former city council member, he realizes the importance of Lynchburg’s local government, and he hopes students will vote in the May 4 election.

“Those that do not vote are granting approval of the processes that already exist, and they are basically saying, ‘We like what we have,’” Garrett said. “I am hopeful that they will get out and vote for those that share their values.”

Contact Melinda Zosh at

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