As one Charlottesville man embarked on a journey to make his community a better place, his family received some of the most challenging news they’d ever faced. His wife was diagnosed with cancer, a scare that consumed the family’s lives for the next several months of treatment and doctor’s visits.
The family lived just four minutes from the University of Virginia Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center. Their proximity to such specialized care made it easier to obtain around-the-clock care and last-minute appointments.
When doctors called the family with an appointment opening in the next 30 minutes, for example, he couldn’t help but consider those in the region without easy access to the number one hospital in Virginia. Someone living in the rural town of Charlotte Court House—two hours away—with the same diagnosis as the man’s wife could not possibly squeeze into an appointment with only 30 minutes-notice.
That man is 5th District U.S. Representative candidate Josh Throneburg who is focused on bringing rural constituents into the 21st-century.
“I, as a lot of parents are, am concerned for my kids and their future,” Throneburg said. “When I think about issues around climate change, democracy, sexism and racism—as both of my kids are not white like I am. I just want to figure out how to create a future where my kids can be healthy and happy. There are a lot of threats to that right now. I decided to run for Congress because there’s a place where we set the policies that impact the future of our kids. I’d love to be a part of those conversations.”
While he does not have a voting record for voters to review, Throneburg does have views on several issues, including health care, broadband access, climate change and equity.
A future for all kids
The ordained minister and small business owner from rural Illinois is jumping into politics for the first time as a concerned father hoping to secure a stable future for his two daughters.
Throneburg says his pastoral career has prepared him to represent the 5th District. His position as a shepherd who cares for all people in his congregation regardless of political ideology has led him to believe that representatives who are not just fighting on behalf of their political party can best serve the community.
Since launching his campaign earlier this year, Throneburg has quickly become known as the progressive inverse of his incumbent opponent, Representative Bob Good.
While his position in favor of abortion rights, LGBTQ+ protections and districtwide fossil fuel reduction is the polar opposite of Good’s, he is more than the Democratic antithesis of his conservative Republican opponent.
Throneburg’s plans to coordinate the installation of broadband high-speed internet access throughout the district, particularly in rural areas, is a crucial factor in his proposed solutions for several issues.
Developing solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change is one of Throneburg’s main priorities.
Raised Republican in a family of farmers, he knows that he will have to put in the extra work to bring Republican voters on board, especially while addressing challenges created by climate change. He has already received pushback on his plans to create incentives for businesses and individuals to switch to renewable energy and apply a corporate carbon tax to offset mining revenue with $200 billion over the next 20 years.
“There’s a hesitancy, especially from people on the Republican side of the aisle, around some renewable energies,” Throneburg said. “I think there is a chance to get over the hump of getting people educated and excited about these opportunities. The resources are there, the space is there and the opportunities are there. We just have to get folks energized about the transition.”
If elected to Congress, Throneburg will push for the construction of more solar farms and windmill factories, which will effectively create more jobs and revenue, in the open acres throughout the district. He is hopeful that funds from President Biden’s Inflation Act will be allocated to develop the latest hubs in green energy and infrastructure.
Of health care and equity
Throneburg’s own family health scare earlier this year further emphasized his goal of achieving accessible and affordable health care for 5th District residents.
Investment in broadband internet will allow people in rural areas better access to healthcare resources like telehealth for doctor’s visits and mental health appointments and more mobile medical services. Broadband will help Throneburg achieve one of his main goals for the 5th district: offering health care access to anyone who needs it.
Throneburg aims to repair decades of oppressive redlining by partnering with state and federal programs that offer low and zero-interest loans to homebuyers of color. Many buyers are competing with corporate developers who can easily outbid low-income families.
“Congress has the purse strings, the financial control, so we can provide some funding to localities in order for them to incentivize low builders to put up affordable housing,” Throneburg said. “Another developing issue is right now, especially in rural areas, and one of the reasons costs are getting higher and higher is because large hedge funds or investment folks are buying up large amounts of land and property, and then renting it back out.”
“The federal government can limit Wall Street’s ability to purchase extraordinary amounts [of housing].”
To address education equality and chip away at the student debt crisis, Throneburg will advocate for free community college for everyone in addition to expanding eligibility for Pell Grants and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
As the controversy surrounding Governor Glenn Youngkin’s model policy restricting the rights of LGBTQ+ students persists, Throneburg will work to pass the Equality Act. The act will introduce legislation with sexual orientation and gender identity protections that extend to employment, housing, credit, education and access to public space.
Throneburg and Good participated in the only in-person debate scheduled between the opponents for the entire election season at Hampden-Sydney College last week.