Meet the candidates: Democrat Tom Perriello

Today, we continue our Meet the Candidates series with a gubernatorial candidate who says it’s time to take a fresh look at Virginia’s workforce. Capitol Bureau reporter Evanne Armour sits down with Democrat Tom Perriello to talk about why he thinks education and larger paychecks are key to Virginia’s future.

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Tom Perriello admits he hasn’t always liked politics, but he’s running for governor because he says the time is right.

“I believe there are moments where it’s really important for people to step up and do that form of public service and I think this is one of those moments,” he said.

Born in Charlottesville, Perriello has been a member of Congress and a diplomat representing the U.S. He worked as a negotiator in central Africa.

He describes himself as progressive and problem solving.

“One of the things I’ve done for the last 20 years is fight for progressive causes like fighting against inequality and for civil rights and voting rights,” he said. “But I also believe that it’s not about taking a stand for the sake of how loud you can shout. It’s about how you get things done.”

He believes one of the biggest economic challenges in Virginia isn’t outsourcing — it’s the rise of automation and consolidation.

“I believe we need a new generation of politicians and a new generation of problem solvers who understand these aren’t the same problems as the 1990s. We have a new set of challenges,” said Perriello. “That’s why we have to create multiple, affordable pathways into working class and middle class jobs.”

One way he wants to do that is by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Right now, Virginia’s minimum wage sits at $7.25 an hour.

“What we’ve learned in the last 30 years is this approach of trickle-down economics where we give big tax cuts to the rich and expect it to trickle down doesn’t actually work,” he said.

Instead, he wants to invest in education. Perriello is the first candidate to call for two years of free community college, vocational training or apprenticeships.

“This boils down to opportunity. We want people to have an opportunity to access the American dream, and that’s got to require quality education, it’s got to require meaningful, dignified wages in the workforce and opportunities for people to have a chance to succeed.”

Perriello says right now, Virginia has an opportunity to create clean energy jobs of the future.

“Both parties unfortunately have been to beholden to Dominion Power and those standing in the way of those clean energy jobs,” he said.

On his website, Perriello lays out 13 ways be plans to fight for Virginia’s environment.

That includes opposing the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipeline projects, protecting the Chesapeake Bay and creating an Environmental Justice Advocacy Council.  To see the full list, click here.

The primary election is June 13.

BORN: Charlottesville, VA

LIVES: Alexandria, VA

COLLEGE: Yale University

FAMILY: Has 10 nieces and nephews

MENTORS: Parents

CAMPAIGN SLOGAN: “A new deal for Virginia”

WEBSITEtomforvirginia.com