Breaking down Virginia's lieutenant governor race: Jill Vogel vs. Justin Fairfax

ROANOKE, Va. – While much of the focus has been on the race for governor in Virginia, the race for lieutenant governor is heating up.

The candidates are very divided on ways to improve health care and handle the energy industry in Virginia.

In some races, candidates overlap on certain issues, but in this race, stark contrasts can be found on nearly every issue.

Republican candidate Jill Vogel has served in the state Senate for 10 years and her opponent, Democrat Justin Fairfax is a former federal prosecutor.

Both believe health care is one of the biggest issues facing Virginia, but they have different ideas for how to improve it. 

"Doing everything we can to incentivize people to have more choices, more people come to Virginia and open up that marketplace -- that's the better solution," said Vogel.

While she believes more competition is needed, Fairfax supports the idea of a single-payer system, but his first priority is Medicaid expansion.

"Medicaid expansion is critically important. To expand Medicaid for 400,000 more Virginians would create 30,000 new jobs," said Fairfax.

The economy has been a hot topic of discussion in both the campaigns.

When asked specifically about how he would help the economy in Southwest Virginia, Fairfax said better workforce training can lead to more jobs being filled and the ripple effect of a healthier economy.  

"With workforce development, we can make community college more affordable and apprentice programs available so that people in southwest Virginia have that opportunity to get those skills and certifications that will allow them to fill much higher-paying jobs," said Fairfax.

Vogel, who was born in Roanoke, said she wants to boost agriculture and industry in Southwest Virginia.

"We should be investing in this part of Virginia again. We should be deregulating some of the markets, especially agriculture, so that people can do what it is they want to do, like industrial hemp, which is legislation I've introduced year after year," said Vogel.

Vogel also believes that the expansion of clean-burning natural gas and energy infrastructure in Virginia would create more jobs. 

Fairfax vocally opposes the two proposed natural gas pipelines that would cross through Virginia. 

In Virginia's political races, the issue of Confederate flags and monuments has been front and center. The violence in Charlottesville threw Virginia into a discussion of whether monuments from the past are pieces of history or pieces of dissension.

Vogel denounces the violence that cost Heather Heyer her life but finds the monuments to be an important part of Virginia's history. 

"That kind of hate has no place in Virginia and no place in this dialogue, but also there's no place in the commonwealth of Virginia for going through the commonwealth and ripping down our history," said Vogel.

Fairfax has concerns about what he believes are messages of division coming from Washington and Vogel's support of President Donald Trump.

"I think that Virginians reject it. I believe that we need leaders who are trying to unite us and not divide us," said Fairfax.

The two candidates are fighting to reach the finish line and lead Virginia's Senate.

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