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House of Delegates
William Kern GroganAge:
Sandra (spouse), some cats and a 'possum who visits, occasional birds, dogs, and squirrels. Profession:
United States Military Academy, 2 years; B.A. in history, Lynchburg College; J.D. (law degree), T.C. Williams School of Law. Where do you live?
I live a half block west of the Boulevard in what used to be called "West of the Boulevard."Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town called Bassett, Virginia, which is in Henry County.Why are you running as an independent?
I believe the only way for the voters to get the best of the Republicans and the best of the Democrats would be to run as an independent taking the best from each party and none of the negatives. Why aren't you running as a Democrat or Republican?
Because I'm running as an independent.What are your signature policies and campaign issues?
I sign off on all my policies. My primary issue is tax reform. The tax system has become the tail that wags the dog at every level of government. The only two requirements of a tax system are that it be fair and it be simple; neither our federal nor state system meets either of those requirements. I would like an opportunity to enact a fair and simple tax system for the Commonwealth of Virginia, one which other states will see as a better system and enact it themselves.
Ultimately, my goal would be to bring pressure to bear on Congress to enact a truly fair and simple tax system. I would also like to see a form of modified term limits, if elected officials do not exercise voluntary restraint by limiting their terms themselves. I believe in a frugal government, and one of the best ways to have a frugal government is to elect people who show economic common sense in seeking office by exercising voluntary restraint in spending - so that our election process does not turn into a sale of offices to the highest bidder. I would also like to see enacted a law or a policy which requires elected officials to have the issue of their pay raises put to a vote by their constituents, even if the vote is only advisory, before elected officials can vote themselves a pay raise. And there are more; I've got the issues, if you've got the time.Which political party do you more closely identify with?
Since I consider myself a Jeffersonian, I guess you can say I identify with the Democrat-Republicans, the party of Jefferson. How do you differ most from them?
I don't quite understand the question, differ most from whom? If you mean the party mentioned in the previous question, I guess I would have to tell how I differ from established parties. The main difference is that I agree with the ideals of both of the major parties, and in the past have supported various party candidates, independents and third-party candidates. Established parties tend to ignore their principles when it comes to trying to win, or in supporting their candidate in office.
The best examples of this are Nixon and Clinton. It was obvious that Nixon had committed tax crimes even before the full extent of Watergate came out. I was unaffiliated at the time, but I sent him a telegram saying his guilt or innocence was not the issue, but the issue was honor. I suggested that an honorable man would resign. We know what ultimately happened. But, you know, there are still Republicans who will defend Nixon. In the case of Clinton, it was not clear whether he had committed an impeachable offense, but it ultimately became clear that he had lied under oath. As a Democrat, I sent Clinton a similar telegram saying his guilt or innocence was not the issue, but the issue was honor. I still say that in that situation, an honorable man would have at least offered to resign. Obviously, my Democrat friends did not like my position, but my stance was that you cannot defend something that is wrong; if you do, you lose credibility.What changes would bring you into the Democratic or Republican fold?
My winning this election.How did you arrive at your political convictions?
I grew up in Virginia where the study of history was emphasized. The study of our country was the study of Virginia for the first couple of centuries. I believed what I read in the history books, and what I was taught in school, and felt strongly that as a Virginian I had a duty to serve the state and nation just as all Virginians who came before me had done -- such as Washington, Jefferson, Patrick Henry and Robert E. Lee. That's why I went to West Point, and that's why I went to law school. However, shortly after law school, when Ford pardoned Nixon in 1974, everything I had been taught and believed in about this country was thrown out the window. Terms such as "we are a government of laws and not of men," and "no man is above the law," appeared to have no meaning. I took a long sabbatical from any political involvement after that event. I almost got involved in 1980, but my rugby club needed me for a tournament in Pennsylvania, so politics had to wait.
My political convictions are a result of what I was taught by my parents, by my teachers, and what I was taught in church. Those influences, coupled with my formal training and my experience in life have developed in me what I consider to be a pretty good understanding of what this country is about. Our government is the only government on the face of the earth whose sole purpose was to protect the rights of individuals. While it has not been perfect in that, it is certainly at the head of the class of all governments that have ever existed. We must keep in mind the purpose for which this government was created, and we should all have the political convictions that reflect our understanding of the purpose of our government.Are you running to win, or running to bring attention to certain issues?
Are you printing this article to sell advertising or to enlighten the public?Who is your political hero?
I'm not sure I have a political hero, but I have heroes who have all, in one way or another been involved in some political issues. Those heroes are, in chronological order, Socrates, Jesus Christ, Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, and Ted Williams. I could consider Truman or Eisenhower political heroes, I suppose, although Eisenhower qualifies as a hero not from his political role but from his military role. When you realize the responsibilities on him for the D-Day invasion, and he was successful, and he was such a decent man, he vaults to the hero level. He was a very humble man and wrote two speeches for after the invasion, one in case he was successful, and one in case the invasion was not successful. In the speech for nonsuccess, he accepted the total blame for its failure. The importance of that event cannot be underestimated. Had that invasion failed, the world would have gone into a second Dark Ages. What kind of car do you drive?
I drive a 1992 Mercury Marquis. It was my mother's car, and when she passed away in 1995 for sentimental reasons I just could not sell it. I had just bought a new Le Baron convertible, and the dealer was a friend who let me turn it back in. I intended to keep the car for 10 years or 100,000 miles, but I have exceeded both. But the car runs so well I just cannot seem to let myself get rid of it.