Ginger Mumpower – yes that Ginger, as in Ginger’s Jeweler’s – sounds determined not to play political games in Richmond if she beats the odds and captures the 8th District House of Delegates seat left vacant when Morgan Griffith won a seat in the U.S. Congress race vs. long time incumbent Rick Boucher.
Mumpower was nominated by local Democrats last week and will face off in the January 11 special election against Republican Greg Habeeb, in a GOP-leaning district that includes Southwest Roanoke County and Salem. Mumpower is actually no stranger to elected office – at 23 she won a seat on Radford City Council, where she said Democrats and Republicans worked together to get things done.
“I’m not your typical politician. I don’t consider myself a politician at all. I don’t think labeling people is really accurate. I like looking at issues on an issue basis. [If elected] I’m going to represent all of the people of the 8th district and surrounding areas. All of southwest Virginia matters to me. The decisions I make are not restricted to a party … and I do not play political games. I’ve done it before [in Radford.]”
During her four year tenure there, Mumpower said they raised revenue levels without raising taxes. “The only way you can really be successful is to be able and willing to work with people from all walks of life, regardless of income, party affiliations or anything [else].”
The longtime businesswoman, who closed her Roanoke showroom several years ago but recently opened one at Smith Mountain Lake, said that model of cooperation across party lines can work in Richmond.
“I felt like as a businessperson I had something to offer,” she said about her time on Radford City Council. Now with her children grown, “I feel like I have something unique to offer [again]. I understand the challenges facing small businesses.” Having so many friends and acquaintances out of work also impacts Mumpower.
“We have thousands unemployed in my district. I’m not suggesting I have all the answers … but I understand what these small businesses are going through.” There is money to be lent but “all of the red tape,” is something she would like to cut through. “Sometimes the laws that are in place … they don’t understand it from a business perspective.”
Mumpower is “very much opposed” to privatizing the state ABC liquor stores, in large part because the $100,000 license fee Governor Bob McDonnell has proposed would shut out many small business owners. She fears the big store chains that might move in and does “not want to see a liquor store on every corner in my neighborhood.”
She also says the revenue generated by privatizing, which McDonnell wants to dedicate to transportation projects, would not be enough to make an impact. On the other hand Mumpower would oppose any increase in the gas tax at this time, as suggested by former Democrat Governor Tim Kaine. “I am opposed to any type of tax increase in this economy. We have people struggling. People need a break.”
Passenger rail service is something Mumpower can support: “Roanoke is perfect for rail.” In fact she would like to see passenger rail service extended to the New River Valley, where college students and others could hop on a train, heading for home, Washington D.C and other destinations. The rail [service] would be a wonderful alternative [means of transportation] for people and it helps with the economy. It gives people… an affordable choice.”
Mumpower points to state-supported Amtrak service in Lynchburg as being “so successful,” one year into a three year pilot program. “It connects us globally … and allows people to come here. That’s the type of thing I think we need to focus on to move the economy and create jobs.” Piling on new taxes to raise revenue, “is like a bottomless pit. It’s depressing.”
She’s received good feedback and “a lot of encouragement” about her run for office so far, and just opened a campaign headquarters in an empty Salem gas station at the corner of Apperson and 419.
“I’m actually having fun with this campaign,” said Mumpower. “It’s the citizens that inspire me to look for answers and to find alternative choices. [People] here have a lot to offer in terms of ideas … and I’m a good listener.”