Ballard says opponent in 12th District, Hurst an ‘absentee landlord’

Last Monday, Pearisburg attorney, town council member and veteran Jason Ballard claimed the Republican nomination for Delegate for the 12th House District.

“It is my distinct honor and privilege to be the Republican nominee for House District 12,” Ballard said. “Our campaign has experienced tremendous momentum since our announcement in February, and now our complete focus is on winning this election in November so Southwest Virginia can have a voice in Richmond again.”

A decorated veteran, Ballard joined the U.S. Army JAG Corps after the Sept. 11 attacks and is now a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, as well as an active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Jason Ballard speaks in Pulaski recently. (Mike Williams/The Patriot)

Ballard is a small business owner and practicing trial lawyer in the law firm of Headley Ballard LLC and is licensed to practice law both in Virginia and West Virginia. He and his wife, Catherine, have four children, Sydney, William, James and John Thomas. He is a member of the Pearisburg First United Methodist Church, and volunteers his time to coach youth sports and serve on several local committees.

He says it was during a conversation with his son that he first began thinking of seeking the 12th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

“Basically, it started with a conversation I was having with my children while doing the virtual learning due to the pandemic,” Ballard said.

“They were having some issues with their classes because of the internet connection. My older son, William, finally just said, ‘Dad, you always teach us to be part of the solution and stop complaining.’ And he basically told me to ‘put up or shut up.’ I kind of took it to heart once I started thinking about it.”

So, Ballard said, he decided to be part of the solution.

“I think I can help our area, so I decided to announce my candidacy,” he said.

Ballard, who has ties to Pulaski as the son of local car dealer Jeff Ballard at Ike’s Auto Sales, sees education as one of the more important issues facing the 12th District.

“My mother is a lifelong schoolteacher in the educational system – I think for about 35 years. She’s currently assistant superintendent of Giles County.  I always have conversations with her about issues affecting our school system. And I have three children in the public schools, so I want to see public schools be fully funded. I want to eliminate the un-funded mandates that come out of Richmond. I want to give our teachers all the resources and modern technology that they need to teach our kids. And tied into that is broadband internet,” Ballard said.

“Across our region and in the more rural parts of the district, even in the New River Valley, a lot of folks don’t have internet access. So, when we try to have children go virtual with their learning, it’s almost impossible. We need to be inter-connected with quality broadband services. That ties into some of the education issues that I want to discuss throughout the campaign.”

“Beyond that, our area needs economic growth,” Ballard continued.

“The way I see that is we need to retain and sustain the businesses that are here and then bring in new businesses. The people of the New River Valley are incredibly talented, and they want to work. They deserve a good job with good wages and some stability in those jobs. I think we need to do what we can to eliminate the regulations that harm small businesses. We need to offer our businesses tax incentives and tax credits that will help them thrive and grow. And I think we need to develop our infrastructure. Because when you have the infrastructure in place, these businesses will come to our area.”

“We need to attract new businesses into our area as well as sustain the ones that are already here, and some of those are struggling because of the pandemic,” he noted.

Ballard says he is a strong supporter of law enforcement.

“Obviously, I’m a conservative and run on a conservative platform, so I am an advocate of our law enforcement officers. I’m a military officer – a Lt. Colonel in the Army – and so I’ve been deployed to a bunch of different countries and I’ve seen firsthand what it looks like to have a government without law and order. So, I will always be a supporter of the police and law and order and doing what we can to prop those folks up instead of trying to vilify them.”

Ballard is a member of the National Rifle Association and supports the Constitutional rights afforded Americans under the 2nd Amendment.

“I think we need to do so smartly and wisely, but always I will advocate for our Constitutional rights including the 2nd Amendment. That’s part of one of the oaths that I swore. As a soldier you swear to support and defend the Constitution, and as a lawyer as well and that is what I intend to do.”

Ballard told The Patriot on Monday that he believes a lot of the issues in the campaign are interconnected.

“If I had to really pick one, I think right now, given the COVID situation, our children are really struggling in school. You have children who are historically straight-A students and because they haven’t had the same in-classroom opportunity they enjoyed prior to the pandemic, they’ve struggled. They have struggled academically, socially and some have struggled physically. You have children that may not get to get outside and exercise as much as when they were in school. Those are health concerns. Honestly, I see this firsthand on a daily basis with my three sons. We try to develop a schedule for them to make sure they get out of the house and exercise so they can be healthy.  I hate to identify just one issue, but education is really important to me.”

As for his opponent, two-term incumbent Democratic Delegate Chris Hurst, Ballard says Hurst isn’t really part of the district.

“He doesn’t represent our values. He was put into this district solely for political reasons. He’s not from here. He has no vested interest in seeing that our area succeeds. And quite frankly he’s been an absentee landlord. He hasn’t been present in our district. He has failed to speak with the people he is supposedly representing in Richmond, and I think people are tired of it and are ready for a change.”

“Our campaign is basically to bring Southwest Virginia values back to the forefront. Right now, we don’t have that. We’re under-represented and it seems the guiding principles of Northern Virginia are what’s leading the way. We want to change that.

“At the end of the day when this election is over, I want my children to be proud of their dad. You’ll see that my faith guides me in my decision making and you’ll see when I do things – especially when I go to Richmond – I will always think how what we do impacts families, small businesses and everyone throughout our community,” Ballard said.

Last week during a Pulaski County Republican Party event at the Historic Train Station in Pulaski, Board of Supervisors Chairman Joe Guthrie spoke of Ballard and his opponent.

“If we ask the question, who do we want to replace Chris Hurst in the House of Delegates, the answer would be pretty darned near just about anybody,” Guthrie said to cheers from the audience.

“We couldn’t find a better candidate than Jason Ballard.”

The 12th House District includes Radford, Giles County and portions of Montgomery and Pulaski County (Belspring and New River precincts).

By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot