" It should be noted that Perriello supported a "Republican version" (House.gov) of PAYGO that supported stronger restrictions on spending. In defense of this vote, he says, "This was a great chance to really get our budget under control, and I was glad to stand up and vote for the kind of smart fiscal policy that folks in the Fifth District expect" (Perriello qtd. On House.gov). Perriello even posted an update on Twitter, stating that he was "very pleased that PAYGO passed the House" (Twitter.com). Perriello believes that responsible spending is not an issue for Democrats or Republicans but rather an "American issue" (Perriello qtd. On House.gov). Perriello states that while both of these bills contain good ideas, he wishes "we could have combined ideas from both sides of the aisle to produce a better, bi-partisan solution" (Perriello qtd. On House.gov). While still a freshman in Washington, Perriello has demonstrated that he is not afraid to vote according to his convictions.
Perriello also introduced the Strengthening Community Opportunities through Rural Education (SCORE) Act of 2009, which "would establish a national advisory committee on rural education within the Department of Education" (House.gov). Perriello stated, "Our hard-hit rural areas deserve special attention when it comes to education. My hope is that this advisory committee will help the President, his Cabinet, and members of Congress better understand the needs of rural education so we can make sure our children get the skills and education they need to compete in a global economy" (House.gov). This committee would "study the unique challenges faced by rural public school systems" (House.gov), including difficulties involved with attracting new teachers, gaps in information technology, inadequate building infrastructure, and the diverse gamut of learning levels. He wrote that his hope is that this committee would aid the President and Congress to understand better the needs for those living in rural areas. By doing so, this legislation would ensure that all children would get the skills they needed to compete in a global marketplace.
Perriello does not believe that voting with his party is a good thing if he feels passionate about a certain issue. Perriello wrote to President Obama condemning Eric Holder's plans to reinstate the "assault weapon" ban. On the House floor, he stated, "Our Constitution and our sportsmen must be respected by our Attorney General and our leadership in Congress. I remain vigilant in protecting our Second Amendment and protecting access for hunting and fishing in our wilderness areas" (House.gov). Perriello believes that making the ban permanent "would not be permitted under the Supreme Court's DC v. Heller decision. It would be an infringement of our right to keep and bear arms as expressly described by the Second Amendment" (House.gov). Perriello firmly believes that the ban would only keep those kinds of guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. This opinion upset many in his party, but it is something Perriello feels strongly about, which is reason enough to vote against his party when duty calls.
Bob Gibson reports that while Perriello was in Afghanistan for three months during the summer of 2005, it was a "toxic combination of corruption, incompetence and complicity with warlords" (Perriello qtd. Gibson), where drug rings had established a '"huge gap between the Afghan people and the government, a gap the anti-government insurgency is exploiting'" (Gibson). Gibson writes that instead of working through these warlords, Americans "should be working to deny the Taliban insurgency the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, who are looking for security, stability and social justice" (Gibson). Perriello claims that these same type of practices can be traced into Virginian politics because '"we simply cannot think locally without thinking globally'" (Perriello qtd. In Gibson). This brand of thinking can also be used to think about other global issues, such as energy independence and "fighting for the politics of the common good" (Gibson). Perriello maintains:
We know here what it means to sacrifice for the common good, to believe that the challenge to love your neighbor, to watch your neighbor's back, is a real moral challenge . . . That means that Danville has got to believe that Charlottesville is its neighbor and care for it, and Charlottesville has to care for Danville and every town in between. (Perriello qtd. In Gibson)
Here we see how Perriello's mind works to solve problems on a grand scale. He believes that this kind of community can be achieved and all will be better as a result of it. He told Gibson that he wanted to be known as "one Democrat carrying a message of faith in "the common good for the commonwealth" (Perriello qtd. In Gibson). In the same vein, Perriello supported the American Clean Energy Security Act (ACES), which is slated to create "millions of new jobs in the clean energy economy" (House.gov) as well as increase the nation's security by reducing dependence on oil from foreign countries. Perriello believes that America would fare better if it attempted to support itself rather than remaining dependent on foreign countries. He believes is helping each other by reaching across the globe but there is also a sense of self-autonomy when it comes to America standing on her own two feet, so to speak.
In a column published in the Chatham Star Tribune, Perriello stated that when he revealed his blueprint for a new economy in Central and Southside Virginia, he realized that he was "surrounded by small business owners and entrepreneurs from our region who are ready to be national leaders in the new energy economy" (Perriello). The blueprint is the result of meeting with Southside workers and investors aiming to "figure out how we can get ahead of the next job boom" (Perriello). Perriello is serious about America's future and the possibility of energy independence. He believes in order meet this great need, "we need to tap all of the energy sources that exist in the region" (Perriello). He has been putting thought into this idea, adding that "bio-refineries and bio-power plants can be strategically located throughout the region using feedstocks grown by local farmers, many of whom are looking for a crop to replace tobacco as a sustainable source of income" (Perriello). In addition to this, he believes that plants and farms with "concentrated amounts of manure-notably poultry and dairy farms-can harvest the methane produced by the waste and convert it into energy" (Perriello). He thinks that while the country might suffering through difficult times, we should not stop thinking about ways that we can make the future better.
Tom Perriello is a man guided by convictions that have to potential to make a difference not only in America but also across the globe. Perriello might not have the experience that many in Washington do but, in a way, he does. His experience abroad demonstrates his compassion as well as his willingness to serve others. Public service has been a part of his life since college and his service has not been within the borders of America. Perriello has ventured outside the comfort of this country and stepped into areas that many Americans would never wish to be for any reason. Here, he has done much good helping others and establishing organizations with others that offer to help others that are less fortunate. Perriello is very much concerned with the freedom of others as much as he is concerned about the education of those who might not be aware of everything that is happening in the world. His involvement with non-profits that hope to educate reflect his desires for his own country. Clean energy, education, and the second amendment are issues that matter to him and he is not afraid to speak his mind about them. Tom Perriello is a man for the people. While he serves the people of this country, it is clear that he is concerned for all human beings and their education and well-being. While Perriello has not been in Washington for very long, his record indicates that he has the wherewithal to stay there and make a difference.
Gibson, Bob. "Perriello Enters Race for 5th seat; Hopeful Seeks to Bring Faith, Global Experience to D.C." The Daily Progress. Charlottesville, Va.: Oct 7, 2007.
Goldsmith, Will. "Can he go the Distance? Tom Perriello hits Southside in his effort to beat Virgil Goode." Charlottesville News and Arts. < http://www.c-ville.com/index.php?cat=121304062461064&ShowArticle_ID=11800610083997492>