Whoever is elected governor of Virginia on Tuesday is going to have his hands full.

Virginia is one of two states holding gubernatorial elections this year with the other being New Jersey.

Facing Virginia’s next governor is continued high unemployment, health care inaccessible to many Virginians, rising costs of higher education, energy concerns, clogged roadways in the state’s population centers and looming budget concerns—just a few of the difficult issues the new governor will have to address.

Virginia is fortunate that both major parties nominated accomplished, honorable and capable candidates. Democratic candidate and current Lt. Governor Dr. Ralph Northam has a solid record of service to the commonwealth and the country.

It is not so much Northam’s weaknesses as the significant strengths of his opponent that makes it the opinion of the editorial board of The Gazette-Virginian that Ed Gillespie is the best man to be Virginia’s next governor.

Gillespie has ties to both Republican grassroots and establishment wings, and his political philosophy stresses a pro-life position and opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

He also has a tax plan proposing Virginia’s first income tax rate cut since the rates were established in 1972, which would spark economic growth and improve prospects for small businesses.

That is what Virginia and the nation sorely need right now.

We have watched, the jobless rate keeps rising, and difficult decisions are simply postponed.

Gillespie understands that the government cannot tax and spend its way back to prosperity because government does not create prosperity. The private sector does.

At its best, government can create a climate that encourages risk-takers, investors and entrepreneurs to do what they do best. Gillespie gets it.

Northam doesn’t. After breaking with longstanding, bipartisan support for Virginia’s Right to Work laws during the Democrats’ race-to-the-left primary, Northam went on record refusing to defend and stand up for the very laws that have long been regarded as crucial to maintaining Virginia’s reputation as a pro-business state where employers should seek to locate.

In a May primary debate, Northam refused outright support of Virginia’s Right to Work laws, happily celebrated the defeat of a Right to Work constitutional amendment at the polls and inferred his willingness to support a repeal if he had a Democratic majority in the Virginia legislature.

Virginia is the northernmost state with “right to work” laws, and we believe it provides the commonwealth a huge advantage over our northern neighbors attracting industry.

On the issue of transportation, we think Gillespie’s plans are reasonable and realistic. Gillespie proposes ensuring that every transportation dollar is spent for maximum impact, prioritizing transportation projects that reduce congestion, improving safety and promoting economic opportunities for Virginians.

He believes Virginia’s transportation network should be the best on the East Coast.

Secondly, as governor, Gillespie will take the politics out of transportation. He will roll up his sleeves and get to work for the people of Virginia. This will require hands-on management to fix the Metro, deepen and widen the state’s Port and advance projects efficiently.

On the flip side, as a state senator, Northam was one of the strongest supporters of a multi-billion dollar tax increase in 2013 that required families, small businesses and low-income consumers to pay more for a transportation spending package.

House Bill 2313 imposed a number of statewide tax hikes including a gas tax increase, a 6 percent sales tax increase and a whopping 38 percent car sales tax increase.

On the issue of energy, Gillespie has unveiled a detailed plan to secure abundant energy resources and competitive energy prices that protect citizens from high energy costs and attract the businesses that provide new jobs.

As governor, Gillespie will improve our state’s infrastructure and grid security, ensure affordable, reliable energy and advance clean energy and innovation.

He wants to turn Virginia into the energy capital of the East Coast. He should.

Virginia is blessed with coal in its mountains and natural gas and oil off its shores. Virginia also should be a leader in the green technology field. Gillespie recognizes this fact also.

Higher education and preparing Virginia’s workforce for the jobs of the 21st century also will be a priority for the next governor.

Both candidates pledge to improve job training and access to affordable higher education.

We think Gillespie’s plan better identifies the flaws in the current system and has a greater chance of achieving the desired goals.

But both men are a little vague on how they plan to pay for higher education improvements.

Gillespie supports expanding online options to hold down costs and possibly limit the percentage of out-of-state students permitted, while Northam wants to increase state funding to pay for higher education and supports free community college.

If Gillespie is elected governor, he has promised to keep Confederate statues in their “historical context.”

Northam says he will advocate for taking down all Confederate statues.

On the subject of supporting gay marriages, Gillespie is personally opposed. He maintains he’ll enforce the law while “protecting religious freedoms.”

Northam supports gay marriage.

On abortion, Gillespie supports banning abortions except in cases of rape, incest or risk to the life of the mother.

Northam, a pediatrician by trade, supports continued access to abortion.

Enough said.

On Nov. 7 we urge the voters of Halifax County to vote for Ed Gillespie for governor. He has a proven track record of fiscal responsibility, promoting limited government and protecting individual freedoms.

We also enthusiastically support Jill Vogel for lieutenant governor and John Adams for attorney general.