Candidate Forums – what was said?

Candidates at Wednesday’s event

If you missed the League candidate forums on Wednesday and Thursday this week, you can read up on the coverage from the Gazette.

The article text is also included below.

Local candidates pitch their experience and vision to voters

By Jack Jacobs

Staff writer

James City County — Incumbents touted accomplishments and argued their experience made them well-suited to continue service, while challengers called for change and said they’re the best to make it happen during a candidates meet-and-greet event Thursday.

The candidates’ shared public appearance at the James City County government complex came as the second of two candidate meet-and-greets this month ahead of the Nov. 5 elections.

The event featured brief remarks by each of the candidates vying for Williamsburg-area offices and an opportunity for handshakes and one-on-one discussions with audience members afterward.

Sen. Tommy Norment, R-James City County, touted his years of experience, accomplishments and seniority in the Senate in his argument on why he should be reelected.

Norment has been in the Senate since 1992. He said he’s been a driving force in containing the cost of public education and making Virginia a top state for business while in the Senate. He carried the legislation that recently delivered tax relief checks for Virginians. He noted he’s been able to work himself up to powerful positions — he’s the senate majority leader and co-chairman of the chamber’s finance committee — and has built relationships on both sides of the aisle.

“I have been able to lead, I have been able to deliver, and I would welcome your support and opportunity to continue to do that,” he said.

Trevor Herrin, the Republican candidate for the Roberts District seat on the James City County Board of Supervisors, said the county had faltered in business and job creation, affordable housing needs and oversight of development.

“This board has spent a great deal of time and money developing a comprehensive plan four years ago, and four years later we have failed to make much progress on that plan,” Herrin said.

If elected, Herrin would work to tackle those problems. He would work to make the county more business friendly, and said job creation is a priority. Herrin felt the county needs more affordable housing options for residents and that more should be done to preserve rural and historic lands.

The seat’s Democratic incumbent, Supervisor John McGlennon, painted a different picture of the county. He noted that in his tenure on the board, he’s worked successfully to improve the county and would look to continue his work if reelected.

”I’ve served on the Board of Supervisors for a while and I take great pride in what we’ve built,” he said.

McGlennon noted the county earned AAA bond ratings from all three major national rating agencies during his time in office. The county has also seen its parks and recreational department thrive. McGlennon said the county faces challenges related to population growth, but that he has a track record of weighing rezoning requests and questions of development carefully.

He also cast himself as an advocate for the community on the state level, too, saying he worked to encourage the changes to the Historic Triangle sales tax bill that excluded groceries from the tax.

Sean Gormus, an Independent candidate for Williamsburg-James City County sheriff, wants to emphasize community engagement if elected.

Gormus has a background in the community side of policing thanks to his time as a school resource officer in James City County Police Department.

He said the sheriff’s office can do more than its current duties providing security in the courthouse and other tasks.

He voiced an interest in community outreach such as a mentorship program, and also felt the sheriff’s office should be more present at community events and should make itself more available to support local police departments in crisis situations.

“I feel like there’s so much more that our community deserves,” Gormus said.

David Hardin is also running for Williamsburg-James City County sheriff, and he said experience would be key to success.

He has that experience as the office’s chief deputy and already has some familiarity with the duties of the office’s top job.

Hardin, a Republican, said law enforcement out in the community is handled well enough already by local police departments. He cast himself as a driving force behind the force’s accreditation and would work to maintain that if elected.

“We will continue to serve the citizens in our community,” he said.

Gerald Mitchell, a Democratic contender for Williamsburg-James City County sheriff, would work to do more community outreach and provide greater transparency if elected.

The military policeman noted his leadership experience, both in small units and precincts. He said more training for deputies would be a focus if elected.

“I’m certain that we can, and that we will, do better,” Mitchell said.

Sheriff Danny Diggs wants to continue to serve as boss of York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office. He pointed to his years of experience in the job and accomplishments in that time as to why he should continue to be sheriff.

Diggs, a Republican, was elected sheriff in 1999.

He said that though York County’s population is up, crime is down, and that the community seems happy with how things are going. He said he has worked hard to maintain the agency’s accreditation and noted the variety of community outreach programs the agency offers.

“I enjoy serving as your sheriff and my deputies want to me to continue serving as sheriff,” Diggs said.

Scott Williams, who has experience in various roles as a Newport News police officer, wants to bring what he described as a culture change to the York-Poquoson sheriff’s office, one firmly rooted in community policing.

If elected, Williams would work to make deputies more of a presence in the community beyond doing the work of law enforcement. He said he would bring the public more fully into conversations about the agency’s future.

“I want to change the culture to a proactive, community-policing law enforcement agency,” Williams said.

The League of Women Voters of the Williamsburg Area and the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance sponsored the event.

Jack Jacobs,

757-298-6007,

jojacobs@vagazette.com,

@jajacobs_

Candidates talk policy and with voters at meet-and-greet

Seven candidates participated in an informal meet-and-greet at Williamsburg Regional Library before meeting attendees later on. (Madeline Monroe/staff)

By Madeline Monroe

Staff writer

WILLIAMSBURG — Local candidates talked policy and cracked jokes at a meet-and-greet with voters Wednesday evening at Williamsburg Regional Library.

Seven candidates running for state and local offices spoke to a group of about 100 people at the first of two events sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Williamsburg Area and Greater Williamsburg Tourism and Chamber Alliance Business Council.

The night started with candidates introducing themselves before discussing policy.

Third Senate District Democratic candidate Herb Jones said his opponent had not taken care of resident’s healthcare needs, particularly for firefighters and first responders with cancer. For 96th House of Delegates District Democratic candidate Mark Downey, his experience as a physician led him to believe that mental health care services should be expanded.

“When I first started my practice, about 10% of my practice was mental health care,” he said. “Now it’s about 30%.”

Highlighting his record on Medicaid expansion, 93rd House of Delegates Democratic incumbent Mike Mullin praised Medicaid’s new enrollment of 330,000 low-income Virginians as an accomplishment.

“It’s making sure that almost 3,000 people here in the 93rd district have access to a doctor,” he said.

While talking with small business owners, 96th district Republican candidate Amanda Batten said they have trouble finding affordable health care for themselves.

As she knocked on doors to talk with constituents, Batten said she also learned that taxes which did not provide a perceived return on investment, such as the tourism tax, were viewed unfavorably.

“The widening of Interstate 64 is something where folks feel like they are receiving that return (from taxes),” she said.

For 93rd House of Delegates district Republican candidate Heather Cordasco, she said her goal is to make Virginia more business friendly and less taxing on constituents if elected.

“We must make sure that we keep our rainy day fund funded when times are good so that we can meet our promises and our responsibilities without immediately going to raise taxes,” she said.

On the topic of education, ensuring access to early childhood education should be a priority, Downey said.

“If people have a good foundation, then they’re less likely to drop out of school and more likely to attain higher education levels and be more successful adults,” he said.

In Mullin’s statement, he focused on raising pay for teachers. While he helped pass a 5% pay raise for teachers this year, he said legislators need to keep going. “We need to continue to at least get to the national average and hopefully exceed it.”

An advocate of common-sense gun reform, Mullin mentioned his co-sponsorship of universal background checks. Downey said addressing the link between mental health and gun deaths from suicide should also be a priority through red-flag laws. For Jones, nothing has been done to reduce gun violence in Virginia.

“Nothing has happened since Virginia Tech, and we had another incident (in Virginia Beach) this year.”

York County’s 1st District Board of Supervisors candidates discussed their backgrounds and spoke on local issues relating to education, inclusion, the economy, safety and York’s progress in those areas.

Challenging six-term Republican incumbent Walt Zaremba is Democratic candidate Dalila Johnson. After graduating high school in Colombia, South America, she came to the United States and enlisted in the U.S. Navy before working in banking.

“What we do here for the next couple of years, 10 years, is going to affect all of us,” she said.

As another veteran, Zaremba thanked Johnson for her service and noted his extensive service in the U.S. Army before he earned his law degree in 1992. Zaremba pointed to York’s achievements in education and safety and the county’s low tax rate during his tenure as supervisor.

“I still have spirit and desire and love for York County citizens to be their Board of Supervisor (representative) again,” he said.

Later in the evening, candidates mingled with citizens to discuss issues they cared about.

Cordasco, who voiced support for creating pathways for alternative education, said that at the meet-and-greet she had some conversations about her role in workforce development.

“I had someone come up to meet and didn’t know I was the one who brought Manufacturing Day to the county (schools),” she said.

When asked by a retired college professor if there was any one thing that he could fix, Jones responded that he would address issues in education. “I think early childhood education is key.”

Attendees approached Johnson about an idea she had shared to help make her district less isolated by creating a citizens’ council, she said, which would gather community leaders to solve problems alongside supervisors and make informing members of her district easier.

Madeline Monroe,

madeline.monroe

@virginiamedia.com

What’s on your November 5, 2019 ballot?

State and local elections aren’t as famous as presidential elections, but they have significant influence over our lives.

Read the Daily Press’ run-down of Historic Triangle candidates and offices up for election

Virginia General Assembly
On the 400th Anniversary of the Virginia General Assembly, celebrate that far more of us can participate in our government now than in 1619.

Look up your official voting locality and
make sure your registration is up-to-date
at vote.elections.virginia.gov.

Ballots for this election vary based on your voting location, so it’s important to research your ballot before you go to the polls so you are prepared. The official place to check your ballot is on the elections website for your county or town.

Ballots for James City County and York County are included below. Find York County’s ballots on their site.

Election websites:

Local Candidate Forums coming mid-October

The League of Women Voters of the Williamsburg Area and the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance Business Council invite the public to “Candidate Meet-and-Greets” for these candidates (listed alphabetically) in contested races.

Prepare for the forums with this list of candidates and offices from the Daily Press.

Wednesday, October 16, 7 pm, Williamsburg Regional Library, Scotland Street

  • Virginia Senate, District 3: Herb Jones (Dem) 
  • Virginia House of Delegates, District 93: Heather Cordasco (Rep) and (Mike Mullin (Dem)
  • Virginia House of Delegates, District 96: Amanda Batten (Rep) and Dr. Mark Downey (Dem)

Thursday, October 17, 7 pm, James City County Board of Supervisors Building F, Mounts Bay Road

  • Virginia Senate, District 3: Tommy Norment (Rep)
  • James City County Board of Supervisors, Roberts District: Trevor Herrin (Rep) and John McGlennon (Dem)
  • Sheriff: Sean Gormus (Ind), David Hardin (Rep) and Gerald Mitchell (Dem)

The first portion of the “Meet & Greet” will give each candidate an opportunity to provide a 3-5 minute statement about their qualifications, goals, priorities, issues of importance and other personal content. Ground rules: the audience will be asked to refrain from applauding or demonstrating support or nonsupport of all candidates during this segment. No campaign materials, buttons, signs, etc. will be allowed inside the building.

Following these statements, members of the public in the audience will have an informal and casual opportunity to speak with the individual candidates.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that never supports or opposes any political party or candidate.

Chris Piper to speak at the annual meeting today!

Voters voting in polling place

LWV-Williamsburg Area Fall Reception is today, September 19 at 4:30 p.m. at Legacy Hall in New Town.
Speaker: Chris Piper, Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner. Hear the latest on election integrity in Virginia.
Our program BEGINS promptly at 4:30 p.m., so please arrive a bit early.
Wine & Cheese Reception will follow. No cost. New and interested members welcome.
If you are coming, don’t forget to RSVP by clicking here.

General Assembly Results and Observations

Excerpted from a Voter Express article by Carol Noggle, Voter Protection Officer, State League of Virginia

Yes, it was a “wild” General Assembly session, as one newspaper headline stated. All sorts of unanticipated drama involving constitutional officers, but the legislative process continued with the LWV-VA and others in attendance. Observers could see during floor sessions some differences in the House and Senate culture, protocol and decorum, including somedebate obstruction. “Will the Gentleman yield?” “No, I will not yield.” Each side of House attempted to “hijack the rules.” Frequent Point of Personal Privilege (PPP) statements were very “pointed” from both sides on various bills including those regarding firearms in churches, ERA ratification, limiting the power of the Governor, changes to long-standing Rules, teaching Bible literature in the schools, and even on which June Tuesday to have the Primary elections. The House, with many subcommittees, affects the disposition of bills differently than the Senate. The House subcommittees have been described as “powerful gatekeepers” because a successful bill in the full Senate will fail in a House subcommittee that has only seven members.

What actually happened? Of 93 election related bills, 24 passed; among them:

• No-excuse absentee voting, though only for seven days.

• Absentee polling places will stay open properly for voters who are in line at 7pm.

• Preventing split precincts and establishing proper boundary lines advanced.

• Yet to be determined is whether or not voters will be considered “provisional” while waiting for verification of Social Security numbers.

• Improved ballot order to list candidates before the ballot questions will ensure that voters see the candidates first.

• Recount procedures for tied elections were clarified.

What didn’t pass?

• Requiring Voter Registration and information in Commonwealth high schools;

• Restoration of voting rights and voter registration information in regional jails; Extending the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots;

• Allowing the Photo ID of a student enrolled at an out- of-state university;

• Extending the expiration time allowance for a DMV Photo ID;

• Most gun safety legislation including a “Red Flag” or Extreme Risk Protective Order bill;

• Ranked choice voting in local elections.

Environmental bills that passed included one on coal ash mitigation. Legislators prohibited any carbon dioxide cap-and-trade efforts by the Governor or a state agency. Regarding firearm safety, legislators rejected a “red flag” bill or Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) and a bill related to allowing firearms in churches. One successful opioid-related bill expanded who can possess and administer naloxone or other opioid antagonist, after completing training. Below are articles relating on the successful passage of a bipartisan commission on redistricting and inaction on the ERA. The redistricting bill, aimed at limiting gerrymandering, needs additional steps to be added as an amendment to the Constitution.

The April 2019 newsletter is here, & we’ve been busy!

Mary Schilling, President
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.

While it’s easy to get discouraged these days, there have been some positive signs of responsible engagement in the challenging issues of the day. Our League consistently was well represented at the weekly Women’s Legislative Roundtables during General Assembly. Each week also included opportunities to meet with our Delegates and Senators to advocate on legislation on which the we have League positions.

Don Shilling (left) and Mary Schilling & Bobbi Falquet (right) welcome former ambassadors Nancy Ely- Raphel and Thomas Pickering to Great Decisions on March 4. Career Ambassador Pickering, our speaker, served more than four decades as U.S. ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, Jordan and the United Nations, as well as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs—the third highest post in the State Department. His partner Ely-Raphael served as ambassador to Slovenia and legal affairs in the State Department.
Don Shilling (left) and Mary Schilling & Bobbi Falquet (right) welcome former ambassadors Nancy Ely- Raphel and Thomas Pickering to Great Decisions on March 4. Career Ambassador Pickering, our speaker, served more than four decades as U.S. ambassador. His partner Ely-Raphael served as ambassador to Slovenia.

The February/March Great Decisions lecture series was a huge success with outstanding speakers addressing eight of the thorniest and most critical issues in current foreign affairs. With approximately 270 in attendance each Tuesday morning, the signature program helps us reach out to the broader Williamsburg community.

William & Mary’s Students Demand Action group planned a full week of programs and events on gun violence prevention, culminating in a March to End Gun Violence at the Colonial Capitol Building on DoG Street on Saturday, March 23. The featured speaker at the rally was Rep. Elaine Luria, representing Virginia’s 2nd Congressional district. Our League Advocacy and Action program committee members have been hard at work examining Election Integrity issues and exploring initiatives in Civics Education in the public schools. As part of the Gun Violence Prevention initiative, Christine Payne has invited Lori Haas, Virginia Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence to speak on Monday, May 13 at 7 pm at Stryker Building. I urge you and interested friends to attend.

While these programs and events may seem modest, this is what democracy looks like.

We are excited about the upcoming LWVVA Biennial Convention in Norfolk, May 17- 19. Our thanks to Anne Smith, vice president for programs on the State Board and a member of our own Board, for her masterful job in developing a substantive convention program. The speakers’ and session topics are timely: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Election Security and Integrity; Redistricting; Defending Democracy; Women’s Issues-Sexual Harassment. While these programs and events may seem modest, this is what democracy looks like. Remember, “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” You can make a difference.

read the full newsletter

Medicaid: Bridging the high cost of health care in Hampton Roads

Our votes affect health care policies, but what information are we missing to make solid decisions? The Virginia General Assembly just last year accepted the expanded Medicaid coverage offered by the Affordable Care Act; what is happening in our area to prepare for implementation, and how will this affect recipients of Medicaid and health care providers in our area? Come learn from an experienced panel of health care practitioners.

01jan12:00 am12:00 am

This event is on January 24, 2019, 7pm at the Williamsburg Library Theater.

Panelists:

• Jennifer Mellor, Ph.D, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, William and Mary
• Fran Castellow, President of Operations, Patient Advocate Foundation
• Dr. William J. Mann, Executive Medical Director, Old Towne Medical & Dental Center
• Donna Briggs, Regional Sales Manager, Optima Health

Local League president, Mary Schilling, says, “Since the Virginia General Assembly voted to expand Medicaid in their last session, Virginians have a particular interest in this topic, plus health care’s continuing high cost was the top issue for many voters in the 2018 midterm elections. Our elected officials also make decisions on health care costs, particularly in regard to Medicaid. We hope that our panel experts who know the situation firsthand can help us be better informed voters.”

There is no cost to attend. The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, political organization that never endorses candidates or political parties at any level of government. Its mission statement encourages “active participation in government.”

Action and Advocacy Interest Groups Are Underway

Linda Rice, Action and Advocacy Coordinator

You can join one (or more!) of these groups! 

Become an interest group member to become more engaged with our League mission: Empowering Voters, Defending Democracy.

 

At its October 3 meeting, the LWV-WA board adopted a policy presented by Action and Advocacy Coordinator Linda Rice to guide interest groups. The policy describes what advocacy efforts members may undertake in support of positions that the League has reached through research, dialogue and consensus. The policy, including guidelines for interest groups, can be accessed here.

Several local League interest groups have formed to focus on League priorities. Each group will meet regularly to conduct research in depth, track relevant legislation introduced in the General Assembly (GA), and advocate, either in support or opposition, with our legislators during the GA session. Interest groups may organize panel discussions on topics of general interest that the group identifies. Fall reception attendees had an opportunity to join individual groups; some committees are complete, others actively seek additional members.

Nine members have joined the Election Integrity Committee; no more are needed. I chaired the recent state study on Behavioral Health that resulted in an expanded state position; our knowledgeable committee will continue its advocacy work.

The Education interest group, Loretta Hannum, Susan Nelson, Laura Tripp, and Sudie Watkins, will select a chair at their first meeting; additional members are welcome.

Christine Payne is the point of contact for advocacy on Gun Safety legislation.

Jo Solomon is our League liaison to the LWV-VA Redistricting Committee. The state League has been an active partner with OneVirginia2021 since its inception in 2013.

The League supports passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, and your involvement in VAratifyERA.org would be welcome.

Contact Linda Rice with questions.