A former Trump administration appointee is vying to prevent Del. Danica Roem from winning a third term in the Virginia House of Delegates’ 13 District, which encompasses parts of Manassas, Manassas Park and Prince William County.
Christopher Stone, 40, announced last month his candidacy for the Republican nomination to challenge Roem in the November election. Stone is an Air Force veteran, an Air Force National Guardsman and an adjunct professor at Missouri State University’s Washington, D.C. campus. He lives in Manassas with his wife Barbara and their two children.
Stone was appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2019 to help create the sixth branch of the U.S. Military, U.S. Space Force, which protects U.S. interests in space. Stone said he worked within the Pentagon to help establish the U.S. Space Force with a focus on determining the organizational structure and size of the new military branch.
Stone now serves a U.S. Space Force National Guardsman.
Previously, Stone served as the executive director of a municipal chamber of commerce in Missouri from 2008 to 2009. Stone moved to Northern Virginia in 2009 to become vice president of a defense firm supporting senior government officials in both Republican and Democratic administrations, he said.
Stone said he decided to run for the 13th House of Delegates district because he believes the state government, currently controlled by the Democratic party, is not representing the best interests of people in the Manassas area.
Leading Virginia safely beyond the COVID pandemic, reversing criminal justice reforms implemented by the Virginia legislature and fighting “cancel culture” are all issues Stone said he would tackle if elected.
In a March interview, Stone said he believes Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has gone too far in limiting business and school operations during the pandemic and in other areas. Although the governor has some emergency powers, Stone said Northam has frequently overstepped his authority.
“We need to get ourselves back going again, get people vaccinated that want it and get our businesses and our schools open,” Stone said.
Stone also said the Virginia Governor should not have the ability to grant former felons the right to vote. Virginia is one of only three states that permanently removes the voting rights of any person convicted of a felony.
“I don't think he has this authority to just declare that convicted felons who get out of prison are now able to vote,” Stone said.
The Virginia Constitution allows the governor to restore felons’ voting rights if he chooses. Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Northam have used their executive authority to restore the voting rights of more than 200,000 former felons since 2016.
Stone said he disagrees with many of the criminal justice reforms implemented by the Virginia legislature since 2019, including marijuana legalization. Simple possession of up to an ounce of marijuana will become legal in Virginia on July 1, 2021.
“It concerns me greatly that they voted to legalize marijuana. I was not a supporter of that,” Stone said.
Stone said he also would fight against any legislation to end mandatory minimum sentencing in Virginia. Some Democratic legislators want to end mandatory minimum sentences, but a bill that would have done so was killed in the 2021 Virginia General Assembly session.
Stone said he would fight so-called “cancel culture” and protect free speech and freedom of the press, including the rights of those who create content for social media. He said social media companies should not be able to kick anyone off their platforms “even if they're saying things that may seem to be crazy.”
“I don't personally think anybody should be banned from social media,” Stone said.
Ensuring that police are fully funded is also a priority for Stone. He said more money and resources should be allocated to law enforcement in the commonwealth to keep police “fully funded, equipped, and empowered to keep it safe.”
Stone said he was bothered by the way National Guardsman were treated in the weeks following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. Many were sleeping on floors in government buildings or in parking garages. He said he also believes the fencing around the U.S. Capitol should come down.
“I think it was outrageous. And I hope, personally, that we can get back to taking better care of our folks,” Stone said.
Stone said most people who attended the Jan. 6 Capitol protest and subsequent riots were there to peacefully protest. He said those that came into the Capitol building were “not behaving as well as we'd like people around the world to see us.”
“There were better ways they could have expressed their grievances than that,” Stone said.
At the same time, Stone said many people who attended the rally were “very, very fed up.”
“If they don't think that their voices are being heard in the ballot box and they're not thinking that their voices are being heard when being silenced on social media... they don’t know what other options there are,” Stone said.
Roem was first elected in 2017 and re-elected in 2019. She is the first trans person to serve in the Virginia General Assembly.
Prior to Roem being elected, the seat was held by Republican Bob Marshall from 1992 until 2017.
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