03 August 2016
Jane Dittmar, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, spoke at the Fifth Sunday service at Thessalonia Baptist Church in Fork Union on Sunday (July 31).
Dittmar is running against Tom Garrett, a Republican, for the seat currently held by 5th District Congressman Robert Hurt, who will retire at the end of the year. The 5th District, which includes all of Fluvanna County, stretches from Fauquier County to the North Carolina border.
Dittmar, former chairperson of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, introduced herself to the congregants gathered from churches around the county as they celebrated their Sunday School Union. She spoke briefly about her qualifications for the office and what she hopes to accomplish if she wins the election on Nov. 8.
In an interview later in the day, Dittmar spoke about what motivated her to run for office. “Two things drove me into the race,” she said. “I know quite a bit about how to deploy broadband in rural areas because I worked on that in a very focused fashion when I represented parts of rural Albemarle. What I want is better access to funds the the Federal Communications Commission has.”
Dittmar explained that those funds are not appropriated by Congress. “They come from fees that people pay when they pay their bills for cell phones or land lines. Other communities have been much more successful in obtaining these funds,” she said, adding that developing plans for broadband deployment is the first step towards getting funded. “We have a district that is arguably less connected than most third-world countries. It is really impacting lives. From children who cannot do their homework, to telemedicine, to people who cannot access services that are available to them – the impact is felt by many in the community,” she said.
“The second reason I am choosing to run is more idealistic,” Dittmar said. “Between my husband and me we have six children. They are all grown but young – they are all out of the house but just recently. They kind of wag their fingers at us, but in a gentle way; the boomers just have not finished the business at hand,” she asserted. “If we don’t have a more effective government in Washington, then we are passing some pretty large problems along to that generation.”
Dittmar lived in Fluvanna County for five years as an adult and has worked in Fluvanna as a mediator in the court system for over a decade. She has also served as president of the Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“What I would like Fluvanna residents to know is that I do my homework,” Dittmar said. “I am very interested in connecting Washington with local government. I think there is a big disconnect there.”
Dittmar took a moment to thank the Sunday School Union for inviting her to speak with them. “I’ve been to other Sunday School Unions,” Dittmar said, “and to see all the little children join in the service is just lovely. The churches coming together is very joyful – and of course the music is always full of the spirit whenever you are part of an African American service.”