On Friday morning, I had the opportunity to sit down to speak with Dr. Mark Berg. Dr. Berg is running for the Republican nomination for Virginia’s 29th district House of Delegates seat, a seat that encompasses the city of Winchester along with a portion of Frederick and Warren Counties. In the June 11th primary, he will be squaring off against Beverly Sherwood who has represented the district since 1994.
In the approximately hour long conversation, we spoke about a variety of issues, most notably why Republican voters should vote for Dr. Berg over Delegate Sherwood. The reasoning against Sherwood is fairly clear for most conservatives. Sherwood has not compiled a record that indicates she favors limited government. For example, in the most recent General Assembly session, she voted for the transportation tax hike, labeled the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history, as well as approving the implementation of Obamacare in this state, expanded Medicaid, and creating a virtual statewide Environmental Protection Agency through the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Dr. Berg also stated that in recent years Delegate Sherwood “has voted for four out of the five big tax increases.” Certainly these are all issues that would make just about any fiscal or constitutional conservative cringe.
But what motivates Dr. Berg? Well, professionally and politically he is a retired family practice doctor who has served on the Republican State Central Committee for the 10th district since last year. However, as is the case with any candidate, it is his position on the issues that is most valuable. When I asked him about his principles, Dr Berg responded by saying, “There are two big principles that I think are not promoted and not adhered to well and that’s limited government and individual liberty.” Unlike Sherwood, Dr. Berg opposes Obamacare and the tax bill. Regarding Obamacare, he stated, “I know what it is going to do, as a physician I can see what it is going to do and it is a huge mistake both financially for the state and for personal liberty.” He believes that the state needs to stand up for itself and for its citizens against the ever-expanding encroachment of the federal government.
One big challenge, according to Mark Berg, is that a lot of Sherwood’s constituents don’t know her record. Her thinking doesn’t match the Republican creed and the traditional conservative values of the Shenandoah Valley. Government policy should not be designed merely to pick winners and losers. Too many politicians, in his mind, say one thing and then vote another way. However, Dr. Berg believes that each legislator ought to be able to justify his or her votes according to his or her own political philosophy. With those thoughts in mind, given that this year marks the first that Delegate Sherwood has faced a challenge from within her own party, will she listen to the conservative voices in her district by transforming herself into a legislator who promotes their values? Dr. Berg thinks it is unlikely. “…After nineteen years of being an incumbent, (she) pretty much continue(s) to do what she’s done. I don’t think her record is what we need to go forward with right now.”
It seems that Dr. Berg’s message of liberty coupled with a general distaste for Delegate Sherwood’s policies, is attracting considerable support from both within the 29th district, in a coalition of conservatives and the local tea party, as well as recruiting volunteers from other portions of the Shenandoah Valley. His goal is to speak with as many voters in the district as possible, either in person or through his supporters, in order to form a connection with them and gather feedback, rather than simply blanketing the area with glossy direct mail pieces.
Given that 29th district Republican primary happens to fall on the same day as the statewide Democratic primary and that voters will only be able to vote in one of these two primaries, it seems unlikely that too many Democrats will participate. However, Dr. Berg thinks that this fact could likely benefit his campaign given that he is the more conservative of the two candidates in the race.
I very much appreciate Dr. Mark Berg taking a bit of time from his campaign schedule to travel down to Harrisonburg to share his message with the readers of The Virginia Conservative.
Lastly, as a bit of personal commentary, for those fellow conservative and liberty-minded voters and activists, I’m sure you’ll agree that Dr. Berg seems to be a candidate who not only shares our values, but also is willing to ardently fight for them in Richmond. Given everything that I know about the two candidates, if I lived in the 29th district, not only would I be voting for Mark Berg, I’d also do my best to help spread his message to my friends and neighbors and encourage them to get informed and be involved.
Don’t forget to vote on June 11th!