Candidate Profile: Amanda Batten (District 96)
Amanda Batten is the Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates District 96. Her name will appear on the ballot on November 2.
Candidate: Amanda batten
Race: Virginia District 96 Delegate House
Biography: Of the. Amanda Batten represents the 96th district in the Virginia House of Delegates. Elected in 2019, Batten is a member of the House Education Committee and the House Public Safety Committee. She also sits on the Aerospace Advisory Council. Prior to her election, she worked as a legislative assistant for the members of the Virginia General Assembly, as well as for the Virginia Medical Society.
Batten is currently a member of the James City County Ruritans and a board member of the Virginia Symphony Society. Previously, Batten served on the board of directors of the Thomas Nelson Community College Educational Foundation and as chair of the Providence Classical School Board. A graduate of Ashford University, Batten also completed the Sorensen Program for Political Leaders at the University of Virginia and the LEAD Historic Triangle program of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance. Batten resides in Toano with her husband, Rick. His son, Troy, graduated in engineering from Virginia Tech.
Why should Virginians re-elect you to the Virginia House of Delegates?
Having been elected before the pandemic, I understand firsthand the drastic shift in voters’ priorities and needs. The issues highlighted and debated in 2019 and early 2020 have been overshadowed by the tyranny of urgency. The comments I have received from voters allow me to identify and meet the most relevant challenges for the citizens of the 96th arrondissement.
What do you hope to accomplish, if elected?
As a member of the House Education Committee, I am deeply concerned about the extent of the learning loss associated with the pandemic. Based on studies on the correlation between educational attainment and lifetime earnings, educational declines are likely to negatively affect young people for the rest of their lives. This loss of learning follows stagnant academic progress and accompanies the rise of a politicized environment. As a member of the House Education Committee, I support policies to reinstate the “back to basics” program in all schools. Ensuring that students can read and understand at an appropriate grade level is my top priority. Functional literacy is absolutely essential to a functional society.
What is the most important issue facing your district and what is your position on it?
The labor shortage is a critical problem in the 96th arrondissement. While many suspected that the improved unemployment benefit was preventing people from looking for work, I don’t think the benefit was entirely to blame. Disruptions in school calendars, concerns about the transmission of COVID-19, and low wages for tedious jobs remain barriers to filling many roles.
I believe Virginia needs to ensure that publicly funded positions offer competitive compensation and benefits. Virginia must also review state agency spending to ensure that frontline services – such as transportation to school, reliable instruction in public schools, and law enforcement services – receive funding privileged over purely administrative roles. Heavier organizations may need to restructure to ensure essential services are provided.
What is your position on Virginia’s overall response to the coronavirus pandemic, and what could you have done differently?
The Commonwealth has failed miserably to meet the basic needs of Virginians:
- Citizens facing brutal job losses have not been able to collect unemployment benefits in a timely manner, a situation so serious that the federal government has filed a lawsuit against the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC). I would have devoted all possible resources – including transferring employees from other state agencies (especially those shut down as a result of the virus) – to ensure a swift response to Virginians.
- The students suffered a dramatic learning loss and struggled with the isolation of virtual reality. Minority, disabled and socio-economically disadvantaged students have shown unacceptable academic declines that will have lifelong repercussions. I would have allocated resources, specifically designated tax credits, to enable parents to obtain the necessary tools to help their children.
- Virginia failed to effectively distribute the vaccines early on in their availability. As vaccines are now widely available, the Commonwealth must carefully analyze the flaws in the system to avoid future debacles. Other states excelled in distribution, often using pharmacies and private providers who had personal connections and knowledge of patients. Either way, I would have sought to adopt best practices from other states that have shown leadership in these areas.
What are the top three problems created by the coronavirus pandemic in your district, and how would you plan to solve them?
- Identical to point “1” above.
- Identical to point “2” above.
- One of the most frequent complaints from individuals, businesses and local governments was the frustration over the ambiguous and seemingly arbitrary decrees and mandates of the Health Commissioner. It was extremely difficult to obtain precise information about these ordinances, both for individuals and for legislators. To avoid such future events, I support legislation requiring General Assembly approval for the long-term extension of executive decrees (Senate Bill 5001; 2020 Special Session 1). Likewise, I support legislation requiring Board of Health approval for long-term extension of emergency health orders (Senate Bill 5025; 2020 Special Session 1). This non-partisan policy holds lawmakers accountable to Virginians and allows citizens to directly participate in emergency measures.