A Bedford County man, Kurt Santini, swung by downtown South Boston Monday to let Halifax County residents know he’d like to be their next governor.
He had been traveling across Virginia after recovering from a back injury when people kept telling him they wished a “regular guy” would run, so he thought he fit the bill and now he’s hoping to stop people from being “career politicians” with an eye on setting term limits while also protecting constitutional freedoms.
“I want to revise our constitution by adding term limits and revise or end our legislators’ qualified immunity. I believe by adding term limits, we’re going to get rid of the career politicians,” said Santini.
He has submitted his paperwork to the Virginia Department of Elections to throw his hat into the ring for the Republican ticket.
Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield also announced her candidacy at the beginning of the year, and Virginia House speaker Kirk Cox recently announced he’s running as well.
Other Republicans who have publically talked about joining the race include former state senator Charles “Bill” Carrico of Grayson County, state Sen. Emmett Hanger Jr. of Augusta and Pete Snyder from Northern Virginia, who unsuccessfully sought the 2013 nomination for lieutenant governor.
On the Democratic side of the race are Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, state Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan of Richmond, Del. Jennifer D. Carroll Foy of Prince William and former governor Terry McAuliffe.
Virginia’s constitution limits governors to nonconsecutive four-year terms, and that’s something Santini hopes to change.
He would like to see it changed to a two-year term. Another thing he would like to do is reverse legislators’ qualified immunity.
Today’s political division is another reason Santini has decided to run for Virginia governor. He believes there is corruption coming both Republicans and Democrats, and he would like to be apart of helping the public gain trust in the government.
“So how do you rebuild that trust,” Santini asked.
“Well, you get rid of the career politicians, you get rid of the people that are up there dividing our country that are saying things in a negative manner to one party or the other. In reality, we’re Americans before we’re Democrats or Republicans. We are Virginians before we are Democrats or Republicans. We are family before we are Democrats or Republicans. But here over the past 10 years or so, we’re not family,” he added.
Santini was born in California, and at the age of 10, he moved to Florida. He joined the Army at the age of 20 and became a member of 1/75th Army Ranger special operations unit until a spinal cord injury caused him to be honorable medically discharged in 2000.
Over the years, he’s been a firefighter, construction worker, janitor and worked on cars, and studied engineering.
“I’m kind of a jack of all trades, master of none,” said Santini, who was able to get back on his feet in 2018 thanks to a “life-changing” surgery.
“I’ve been non-stop ever since.”
If elected as governor, he would do what he can to protect Constitutional freedoms, and he believes that recent laws infringe on the First Amendment, Second Amendment and the Fourth Amendment.
“The problem is they’re changing the laws without changing the Constitution and the Constitution actually says any law that is in contrary to the Constitution is not withstanding,” said Santini.
He also takes exception to the new mandates issued by Gov. Ralph Northam regarding COVID-19, and questions his ability to make these mandates enforceable. Santini argues that the “the Virginia Constitution says our legislators have to make the law…but here we have a governor making the law.”
However, Virginia Code 44-146.17 says the governor should be the director of emergency management, and the code goes on to say, “Executive orders, to include those declaring a state of emergency and directing evacuation, shall have the force and effect of law and the violation thereof shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor…”
Santini doesn’t have a direct plan on how he would’ve handled the COVID-19 pandemic differently, but he does believe in loosing restrictions and reopening schools.
“We need to protect those above 50 and those with immune deficiencies,” he added.
He does not believe distance learning is working for most students, and his wife, who is a teacher, attests to that. He believes students who want to return should be able to, and that teachers who want to teach from home, should be able to.
Speaking further about education, he said the “school system has been broken for decades.
“Why? Because the richest school systems have the best school systems. The low-income school systems have the worst school systems,” Santini explained.
He would like to see money more evenly dispersed amongst the state, and he likes the idea of the money following the child. Using a state tax, he said ideally all the school systems would get a certain amount per student.
Standard of Learning tests are another thing he would like to get rid of. His wife, he said, is a “big proponent” against SOL testing saying there’s “no way you can judge a kid’s intelligence by a test.”
If elected to office, he also would like to take steps to stimulate the economy with the first act being “opening everything up while still protecting those that need to be protected.” He also believes it should be up to each business whether or not to enforce a mask policy.
He also believes marijuana is “going to be a huge economic stimulator,” and supports its legalization, mostly for medical purposes.
With the legalization of marijuana, Santini believes that would help reduce the U.S. “dependence on opioids from overseas manufacturers.”
3D printing is another thing that he believes will help stimulate the economy.
For example, he said in Northern Virginia, 3D printing could be used to print parts for ships, thus reducing costs, creating jobs and reducing time needed to build ships.
“I think 3D printing will be a big thing in the next 20 years… and I think Virginia needs to be on the forefront of that,” said Santini.
He also believes in lowering taxes and in investing in roads.
As the husband of Mitsy and the father of Cody, Sandy, Samantha, Michael and Tyler, he says at the core of who he is, he’s a man with a “big heart” who would “like to start seeing some good, and (he’d) like to be a part of that good.”
Starting in January, he will work to get the necessary signatures for his campaign, and in the meantime, he’s taking interviews, attending speaking events and hearing from Virginians to see what matters the most to them.
Halifax County resident Thurstie Sherman is his campaign manager, and more information can be found on his website, santiniforva.com, or by calling 434-841-0350.