M. D. “Matt” Rowe (D), running for U.S. House of Representatives in Virginia’s 1st District
1. Why are you running for office?
I’m asked this often. My answer is that I want to do the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people possible. There is more to it, though. I lost my dad to cancer around this time last year. That serves as a reminder that there is never going to be a perfect time to stand up and do the right thing. Either the kids are still so young, or there is a lot going on at work – there can be a million different reasons to say “no.” I felt now was the time to lend my voice to those in our district that are often ignored.
2. Why should people vote for you?
I am honest, even to a fault. Politicians too often hide their true intentions and motivations and cannot level with their constituents. I am not beholden to any special interest groups or big business. If I think something is the right thing to do, I’ll do it. If I get elected, and doing the right things creates enemies for me and costs me reelection, so be it.
3. What’s your favorite thing about the area you want to represent?
The diversity of the people of the 1st District. You have government employees, contractors, farmers, watermen, service members and veterans, and many more. In some parts of the district you have people who can trace their families back to the 1600s and other folks who just became citizens this year. Everyone has a unique story to tell, and I have enjoyed hearing them on the campaign trail.
4. What is the biggest problem your area is facing, how will you fix it?
Dysfunction in Washington. The Federal Government Shutdown of 2013 was an embarrassing reminder of how broken our political system is. Too many politicians are beholden to special interests or to their own stubbornness, and when our elected representatives play this game of chicken, they do it with the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Virginians. Stopgap measures to ensure pay for federal employees and service members in the event of a shutdown can lessen the impacts locally, but these measures don’t solve the actual cause of our problems. I pledge that I will work to ensure that Congress stops playing this reckless game with our government and our economy. The businesses and workers of our district have enough challenges to tackle without adding this uncertainty. There is always a compromise to be made – so ego and reelection need to be left at the door.
5. Describe Donald Trump in max 3 words?
Won’t be president.
6. Describe Hillary Clinton in max 3 words?
Grace under pressure.
7. What do you do for a living? Why do you do it?
I’m a geographic information systems analyst for Stafford County. Basically, I’m a map maker tasked to convey data to inform public policy. I’m pretty sure I originally became interested in mapping because my dad was a land surveyor.
8. You’re going to be marooned on a tropical island for a week, you can only bring 1 thing – what is it?
A map of the island so that I can explore. As a map maker, I would insist on having one. Also, when I don’t need it anymore, I could use it for kindling.
9. What do you think of Colin Kaepernick?
Colin Kaepernick’s protest is part of a larger conversation – one that is passionate, uncomfortable, and necessary to have about race relations in America. Many people may disagree with his message and his actions, but I will always defend his right to speak freely. While symbolism is strong, my question is: what concrete steps can we take to actually have a meaningful impact towards improving relations between the many communities that make up our nation?
10. Would you vote to fund light rail expansion in your area?
We don’t have the population density to anywhere in the 1st District to consider light rail, but transportation alternatives need to be explored in Northern Virginia including commuter rail and expanded telework options.
11. Will you respect the outcome of the election?
Of course. Anyone who respects our democratic process will respect the will of the voters.
12. Favorite TV Show?
The Amazing Race. My wife and I love to travel.