Last week, Ninth District congressional candidate Derek Kitts was on campus to speak with a group of politically active students.
The newly-revived UVa-Wise Young Democrats welcomed Kitts to their weekly meeting to speak to students and answer their questions.
Kitts spoke highly of the college and its role in driving economic growth in the area, specifically the recent plans to transform the Oxbow Center of St. Paul, Virginia into a cyber security accelerator.
Kitts’ policies center heavily on the growth of Southwest Virginia by pushing telecom companies to move into the area and create job opportunities. Many sections of the district, such as parts of Dickenson, Wise and Lee County, still do not have access to high speed internet. This lack of access has led to a hindrance in economic development, business growth and educational opportunities.
A major element in his campaign is to bring the same educational opportunities to students in the Ninth District that are enjoyed by other parts of the state. “Every high school and every child should be given the same opportunities,” Kitts said. “When you lose the ability to fund education properly, you lose hope.”
His confidence to seek these changes comes from decades of leadership experience in the military. Kitts recently retired from the United States Army after serving 24 years on active duty, including combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Kitts has been awarded the Bronze Star twice and is a recipient of the Purple Heart.
Kitts is now back to his hometown roots of Southwest Virginia where he hopes to continue serving. “This is my home,” said Kitts. “I was born here, raised here. I can trace my family back six generations in Bland County.”
The 8,800 square mile Ninth District of Southwest Virginia, which stretches all the way from Alleghany to Lee County, is currently represented by congressman Morgan Griffith, who Kitts hopes to unseat. Griffith was first elected to represent the district in 2008 after defeating longtime congressman Rick Boucher.
The limitations that burden the area’s economic growth is something that Kitts ensures he will eliminate. “Hope in Southwest Virginia is in very short supply right now,” Kitts said. “But I believe in taking care of my district and my home before anything else.”
The UVa-Wise Young Democrats recently held a voter registration drive on campus where they were able to talk with more students about Kitts’ ideas and platform while registering people of all political leanings to vote. They have several other events planned on campus in the future, including a “Get-Out-The-Vote” drive Sunday, Sept. 25 from 12-4 p.m. For more information about joining the UVa-Wise Young Democrats, contact professor Patrick Withen at firstname.lastname@example.org.