With Virginia’s gubernatorial elections rapidly approaching, we thought we’d provide you with some background on the men running for Attorney General. ExecutiveBiz recently interviewed Steve Shannon, candidate for Attorney General of Virginia, and he outlined his priorities for us. Here are some key points:
- “[my priorities are]…to combat drug dealers, gang leaders and internet predators who target our kids.”
- “I worked to found Virginia's first Amber Alert for missing children and that is why I'm running for Attorney General”
- “I can help to make Virginia continue to be a pro-business state by focusing on the public safety aspects associated with the strong quality of life in Virginia.”
- “…cyber security is a constant challenge and the Attorney General will need to work with VITA as well as our executive agencies and departments to make sure that our systems are not getting hacked.”
ExecutiveBiz: What are your top legislative priorities?
Steve Shannon: The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the state. As Attorney General I'd work with the law enforcement community, the Legislature and the Governor in my efforts to combat drug dealers, gang leaders and internet predators who target our kids. The Attorney General is charged with keeping our community safe and enforcing our laws ““ that's exactly why years ago I became a state prosecutor and that is why my wife and I worked to found Virginia's first Amber Alert for missing children and that is why I'm running for Attorney General. We've got important issues that the next Attorney General is going to need to deal with on the law enforcement side and it's important in doing so that the Attorney General makes sure that the government is run in an honest and transparent way. If you look at my webpage www.shannon2009.com it sets forth a comprehensive set of public safety proposals that involve both legislative priorities and what I can do on the administrative front as well.
ExecutiveBiz: What is the greatest challenge you see that faces Virginia in the 21st century and how will you meet it?
Steve Shannon: I think it is particularly important to focus on keeping kids safe from new and dangerous threats. In particular technology has done amazing things in Virginia but we need to be vigilant that our children and grandchildren are safe from adult predators on the internet. In Virginia, a violent crime is committed every 4 ½ minutes and we know of over 19,000 computers currently being used to trade child pornography in Virginia. I will work with the law enforcement community to make sure that we are going after these adult predators on the internet and that we are taking meaningful steps to reduce the number of violent crimes being committed in Virginia.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you plan to make Virginia a more business friendly state?
Steve Shannon: Virginia has received a number of accolades in the past eight years for being a business friendly state. Just this week we were rated the most pro-business state in America by Forbes Magazine once again. That didn't happen by accident. I was proud to work with Governor Warner and Governor Kaine to bring strong fiscal management to the Commonwealth. It's the result of Democrats and Republicans who take a centrist, pro-business approach; coming together to make key infrastructure investments while at the same time making sure that the tax burden in Virginia is low for individuals and businesses. That is why Virginia is one of a handful of states that enjoys the AAA bond rating. As Attorney General, I think that I can help to make Virginia continue to be a pro-business state by focusing on the public safety aspects associated with the strong quality of life in Virginia.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you plan to secure Virginia's IT infrastructure from cyber attacks?
Steve Shannon: Cyber security is a major issue that every state is dealing with right now. The Attorney General serves as general counsel to every executive agency and department, in addition to serving as general counsel to our public universities and community colleges. There is no agency or department or university or community college in Virginia that is immune from the threat associated with cyber criminals. We've taken steps in recent years to transform the level of security that the state has in terms of our IT infrastructure. The reality though is cyber security is a constant challenge and the Attorney General will need to work with VITA as well as our executive agencies and departments to make sure that our systems are not getting hacked.
ExecutiveBiz: In light of serious fiscal shortfalls across the nation how will you trim the Commonwealth's budget?
Steve Shannon: Unlike the federal government one of the things that Virginia does right is we have a constitutional requirement that Virginia balances our budget. This means that we are constantly trying to figure out ways to invest in infrastructure that we know will produce a sound return on investment while at the same time making sure that we're able to meet our financial obligations in a timely manner. Virginia has never been a state that believes in deficit spending, nor do I for that matter. It's a difficult period for Virginia and for all of the states. One of the things we have done in recent years is implement the Virginia Performs Project, which looks at every executive agency and every program in the executive branch in an effort to quantify success. The reason we are doing that is because on an annual basis we are gauging agency and programatics performance based on the metrics we set up. The reason we do that and the reason we make this transparent for our citizens is because if you can't measure what success should consist of, it's very hard to make an argument for getting rid of a particular agency program. Virginia has been awarded for the Virginia Performs Project, and as Attorney General I will work with the executive agencies and departments to make sure that we can hit the benchmarks for success that the program has set.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you plan to make Virginia a safer place to raise a family?
Steve Shannon: I served as a State Prosecutor before getting elected to the legislature. My wife and I have been very active for years with the issue of child safety, and we worked to found Virginia's first Amber Alert program to recover missing children. The reality is that the presence of gangs is at its worst point since 2000. The reality is that we do not devote sufficient resources to combating adult sexual predators on the internet. The reality is that we have on average about 900 accidents caused per month in Virginia by someone getting behind the wheel drunk. I view the role of the Attorney General as the top law enforcement officer, and to that end, I will focus on public safety and working with the public safety community.
ExecutiveBiz: What is your message for Virginia's business community?
Steve Shannon: Virginia is an excellent place to work as well as to raise a family. The success that we've had with regard to attracting business into Virginia and retaining business did not happen by accident. We've made key infrastructure investments with regard to higher education, public education, public safety and other areas of government spending where we know there is a proven return on investment. At the same time it is important that we keep the regulatory burden low and that we remain a relatively low-taxes state. The Attorney General can play a major role in working with the next Governor to make sure that our public policies reflect Virginia's values. We are a pro-business state and I intend to keep Virginia a pro-business state.
ExecutiveBiz: What is something most people would be surprised to learn about you?
Steve Shannon: I am an avid runner.
ExecutiveBiz: Is there anything that you would like to add?
Steve Shannon: This is a very important election on November 3rd. I think it is important that the next Attorney General have a pragmatic centrist approach. I also think it is important that the next Attorney General have a background as a prosecutor and experience working with the public safety community, and I am that person. I hope I can earn the business community's support.