GATE CITY, Va. (WJHL) – After Virginia Republicans took back the state House of Delegates, a Southwest Virginia delegate is hoping to become the caucus’ new majority leader.
Del. Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City) said he reached an agreement with current House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert for Kilgore to be voted in as majority leader and Gilbert to be the new speaker of the House.
Kilgore, a near 30-year veteran of the House, said he hopes to bring fresh blood to House leadership.
“We need to be thinking about how we move our state forward,” Kilgore told News Channel 11. “How to keep Virginia as the best state to do business and the best state to raise a family.”
Kilgore said the leadership position is important for Southwest Virginia’s representation in Richmond.
“When these negotiations are made about, whether it’s funding for schools, for broadband, we’re going to be at the table,” Kilgore said.
Kilgore said the legislative agenda under his leadership would first follow a core campaign promise of Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin: education reform and the elimination of critical race theory from schools.
“We’re going to put parents back in control of education,” Kilgore said.
On critical race theory, Kilgore said he would make sure it is not taught in Virginia schools.
In terms of COVID-19-related legislation, Kilgore said a special session on COVID restrictions would be difficult with the Senate still controlled by Democrats.
Kilgore said he would push for a loosening of COVID restrictions, especially on Virginia’s universal mask mandate in schools.
The Gate City delegate also spoke against overturning two laws passed by the Democrat-led General Assembly: the legalization of marijuana and opening Virginia up for casinos.
Kilgore said the Republican majority would make some tweaks to the legislation to provide a more regulated market to protect children and communities, but keep legalization intact.
“We are going to look at how the framework was set up to go to market for sales,” Kilgore said. “I’m not sure the votes are there to go back and make marijuana illegal again. We’ve got to make sure our law is such that we can move forward and stop these black market sales that could be going on.”
On the casino issue, Kilgore said he supported them because they could be an economic driver for the region. He said counties in Southwest Virginia stand to benefit from tax revenue generated by the proposed casino in Bristol.
House Republicans will hold a vote to approve Kilgore as the new majority leader on Sunday.