WINCHESTER — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe met with local business owners and school officials Thursday morning to highlight his efforts to improve Virginia’s economy.

He first stopped by Winchester Brew Works, where he met with about 20 small business owners in the area to discuss plans to help Virginia’s economy recover after the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the gathering, many business owners said they would not have survived the pandemic had it not been for the financial aid provided through the American Rescue Plan Act — a stimulus plan passed by Congress. McAuliffe praised the plan’s passage and criticized his opponent for governor — Republican Glenn Youngkin — for calling the plan “unnecessary.” Youngkin has previously criticized the size of the American Rescue Plan, though he later suggested using ARPA funds to finance “school choice” programs.

McAuliffe spoke of wanting to help small businesses most impacted by COVID. He plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024, make childcare more affordable and provide paid sick, family and medical leave to every worker. He also wants to create a more inclusive environment that does not discriminate against women, people of color, or the LGBTQ community.

In an interview with The Star, McAuliffe expressed concerns about the impact Youngkin would have on the state if he won the November 2 election.

“He would destroy Virginia’s economy,” McAuliffe said. “First of all, he’s anti-choice, he’s anti-gay rights. So the businesses of the 21st century — the Googles, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon — they are not coming to a state that discriminates. They won’t come here. I recruited them all when I was governor. Number two, he said he wants to eliminate Virginia state income tax. And that would decimate — it would defund the police, it would decimate K-12, cause such problems for higher ed [and] really crumble our healthcare delivery system.”

McAuliffe told the crowd at Winchester Brew Works he wants to protect abortion rights and noted that his opponent was recently caught on tape saying he did not want to fully discuss abortion out of fear of losing independent voters. He also accused Youngkin of being against gay marriage. In a June interview with The New York Times, Youngkin declined to say whether he supports same-sex marriage.

McAuliffe said that “it’s time to take Virginia to the next level.” If elected, he plans to invest a $2 billion annually in education. He said the expenditure would raise the teacher pay above the national average for the first time in Virginia’s history, enhance access to pre-k and get every student online. He also said many schools need to be renovated or rebuilt, as about half of them are 50 years or older. He also wants to continue to invest heavily in STEM-H and computer science education and make students in K-12 education more aware of high-paying trade professions.

He also said he wants all Virginians to have access to affordable health care coverage, strengthen Medicaid and address racial and gender disparities in healthcare.

After visiting Winchester Brew Works, McAuliffe traveled to the Emil & Grace Shihadeh Innovation Center at 536 Jefferson St. Winchester Public Schools Superintendent Jason Van Heukeulum said construction is almost complete and the new center will open its doors to students on Aug. 19. Handley High School students will utilize the new space during the day and Lord Fairfax Community College students at night.

The Innovation Center will feature three academies: health sciences, professional skills and advanced technologies. Each academy will be linked to a work-based learning program to connect students to regional businesses paying high-wage jobs.

Winchester Education Foundation Executive Director Russ Potts said McAuliffe helped make the Innovation Center possible. During his previous term as governor, McAuliffe made Virginia the first state to mandate computer science education for all K-12 students. He also created grant programs for cybersecurity camps for students and cyber boot camps for teachers.

McAuliffe told The Star he was “overjoyed” to see the center completed, believing it will be a vital asset in training skilled workers.

“It’s a spectacular center,” he said. “Everybody here in the Winchester region is now getting the opportunity to get a skill and go right out and get a high-paying job. That’s what our education system should be about — teaching skills that we need, closing that workforce gap so that everybody can come out and get a high-paying job.”

— Contact Josh Janney at

(9) comments


Where is the legally required "Paid political announcement for the election campaign of Terry McAuliffe" ?

Doc Samson

"meets with small business owners... and school officials" Fixed.

Hmmm, I thought public schools were not to be "political". Yes, yes, I'm sure they'd have been tripping all over themselves to grovel at Youngkin's feet too...


If you are for weed, abortion, defunding the police, open borders and voter fraud, then Terry is your guy.


Terry McAuliffe was a joke as governor. Let's not make that mistake again. Vote Youngkin to restore Virginia back to greatness.


Younkin is a yuppie carpet bagger who made millions by sucking companies dry of their assets and then tossing them aside, leaving them with giant debt. He has no clue about government.



Catherine Giovannoni

Terry was a great governor for business. He created thousands of jobs and brought Virginia out of the deficit created by his Republican predecessor. He championed health care for all Virginians. We need a governor who can attract good jobs to Virginia and Terry knows how to do that.


Terry was an awful governor. He did nothing for our area. Please ask him what his intentions are to upgrade Interstate 81 which he ignored for his entire term and now that we are paying Governor Northam's Northern Shenandoah Valley only I-81 Corridor Tax which has resulted in no plans to upgrade I-81 in the northern SValley

Doc Samson

@Greater - Mindless Prog-Lefties... can't deviate from their programming...

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