Democratic House candidate and war veteran living the American dream

RD Huffstetler is first in his family to graduate college

There was no more timely an issue than gun control when Roger Dean “RD” Huffstetler, Democratic candidate for Virginia’s 5th congressional district, met with residents of Rappahannock County this past week.

By John McCaslin
“RD” Huffstetler, Democratic candidate for Virginia’s 5th congressional district, met with residents last week in Sperryville.

A U.S. Marine Corps veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, Huffstetler knows his weaponry.

When asked about the prevalence of guns in the country, the candidate from Charlottesville said he believes in “common sense gun control,” such as background checks and prohibiting bumpstocks.

But at the same time, added Huffstetler, “We need to respect people in rural communities who grew up with guns.”

Would he take contributions from the National Rifle Association?

“No, not one bit!” he answered.

The candidate outlined his positions on a number of topics during an informal lunch session with about two dozen Rappahannock residents last Friday at Sperryville Trading Cafe and Market. The campaign event was sponsored by the all-male Lunch Bunch — in past weeks they have hosted other Democratic candidates for the seat now held by Republican Rep. Tom Garrett — although this time women were invited.

Huffstetler opened with brief remarks about his background — as a child he spent time on his grandfather’s farm, helping out with chores. He was raised in a working-class family and was the first in his family to graduate from college. After the events of September 11, he enlisted in the Marines and severed for four years. Upon his discharge he earned a graduate degree, thanks to the GI Bill, and started a technology company.

“We have lived the American dream,” he said. “In just two generations, my family has gone from the farm to the factory to the future.”

Apart from gun control, questions from the attendees covered other major concerns of today, including economic development, healthcare, campaign financing, energy independence, the opioid epidemic, immigration, education, the social safety net, and getting Washington to focus on the American people.

Economic development is the candidate’s number one priority.

In fact, he said, the first person he would hire for his congressional staff would be an economic development director, someone “who could talk to communities about what they need.”

He described a cornerstone concept of his own plan that would “tie together our private sector, research institutions, and our community colleges . . . to make sure these institutions are supporting folks getting the skills that they need in the changing economy.”

He said he supports the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, with some fixes.

“We should be proud of the ACA,” he said. “I’m for affordable, quality healthcare. I believe in Medicare for all in a way that tackles the issues of access, coverage, and quality of care.”

Huffstetler also said he wants comprehensive tax reform and would fight to overturn Citizens United, which allows corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of cash on political activities independent of a party or candidate.

“I want to fight for the policies that stand up for people. I want to stand up for the working people in this country,” he said.

On the subject of energy independence, Huffstetler explained his ideas for a distributed system of energy production and collection.

“I want to live in an America where every American can collect, store, and sell their own energy,” he said. “I believe in a future where we have our own energy independence based on this distributed production and collection of energy. That’s very important to the future of our country and we should all be excited about it.”

About Patty Hardee 250 Articles
Writer, consultant, actor, director, recovering stand-up comic, Patty covers the county’s courts and other topics of interest for Rappahannock News. She lives with her grape-growing husband Bill Freitag in Flint Hill.