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:

Register to vote by October 15!

Virginia’s voter registration deadline is Tuesday, October 15, 2019. Go vote.elections.virginia.gov to begin the registration process or make sure you are up-to-date if you are already registered.

If you have a Virginia driver’s license or state ID card, you can register to vote completely online. If you are eligible but don’t have either of those cards, you can complete and print the application online and mail it in to your local or state election office.

Election day is November 5, 2019.

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.

Public Comment on Gun Violence Prevention

August 9, 2019

Dear Director Howard and members of the Virginia State Crime Commission,

As President of the League of Women Voters – Williamsburg Area, I write in support of several critical pieces of legislation regarding gun violence prevention.  A super majority of Virginians support the concept of sensible gun reform and legislation.

We urge you to pass the following pieces of legislation on to the General Assembly for their serious consideration and vote:

– SB4019, which would close background check loopholes

– SB4012, which would implement Extreme Risk Protection Orders in Virginia

– SB2024, which would ban assault firearms equipped with high capacity magazines, bump stocks, or silencers

The public safety of Virginians is at stake.  Having lived in the Commonwealth since 1999, I have witnessed the impact of the massacres at Virginia Tech and the recent gun violence in Virginia Beach and all those other less publicized incidents.

Please use your influence and political decision-making power to make a difference by boldly addressing this unprecedented challenge.  You have an an opportunity to do the right thing for the people of our great Commonwealth.

Sincerely,

Mary Schilling, President
League of Women Voters-Williamsburg Area

What does the League do?

We thought about what we’ve been up to the past year and wanted to share it with you. The League pursues non-partisan political work that educates voters and supports our community.

Voter Service

  • The League’s Voter Registration team attended a June 14, 2018, Flag Day Naturalization Ceremony, registering new citizens as voters.
  • The President wrote a formal letter to Virginia Elections Commissioner Chris Piper in June 2018, regarding League’s concern about mapping errors resulting in numerous voters being incorrectly assigned to the wrong polling places in the 2017 election.
  • Our Voter Education team distributed over 500 copies of Facts for Voters, a flyer listing names and contact information for all elected officials in James City County, Williamsburg, and York County as well as top officials in the Commonwealth.  Also included is information on voter registration.
  • Active Voter Registration volunteers visited high schools, community colleges, and senior residences in the early fall in preparation for November 2018 election, repeating these efforts again in the spring to register additional students.

Civic Education

  • 270 subscribers, both League and community members, participated in our Great Decisions, our signature foreign affairs lecture series, with topics on: Cyber Conflicts and Geopolitics; Nuclear Negotiations; US-Mexico Partnership; Regional Disorder in the Middle East; Rise of Populism in Europe; US-China Trade; State of US Diplomacy; Refugees and Global Migration.  The 8 lectures were presented on Tuesday mornings in February and March 2019.
  • Gun Violence Prevention event on May 13, 2019, attended by 58 members and friends, featured an update on the status of various legislative initiatives to curb gun violence and increase gun safety.
Lori Haas of
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
  • League presented public panel on January 24, 2019, discussing “Medicaid: Bridging the Cost of Health Care,” that included 4 healthcare professionals, economists, and community agency heads.
  • A dozen League members attended an April 26 Legislative Wrap-up Session hosted by the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance and featuring comments by Senator Monty Mason and Delegate Brenda Pogge.

Advocacy

  • On October 3, The Virginia Gazette, published the League President’s substantive commentary articulating the League’s mission and commitment to Voter Education.  The article called for civic and political involvement and urged informed voting in the midterm elections.  The timing of this article was prompted by the fact that the League was unable to host traditional pre-election Candidate Forums lacking the required participation of all candidates for each position. 
  • Launched Advocacy and Action groups on Election Integrity, Gun Safety Legislative Reform, and Civics Education in fall 2018.
  • President Schilling spoke in support of the Equal Rights Amendment at a January 9, 2019, meeting of the James City County Board of Supervisors.
  • At the May 2019 LWV-VA Convention, our League was awarded Third Place in the Advocacy Competition, measuring the number of individual advocacy initiatives based on membership size.  This is the second year we have placed third out of 13 Leagues across the Commonwealth.
  • League members joined students and community members for the March 23 March to End Gun Violence, hearing remarks by students, elected officials, and other community organizers for sensible gun reform.

Membership Events

  • Seven members (6 Board) attended the LWV-VA Council Meeting on June 16, 2018, in Henrico, with information shared on state positions and other priorities.
  • League President, Vice President, and Immediate Past President attended the July 2018 Biennial LWVUS Convention in Chicago, among 1,000 members from across the country.
  • W&M President Katherine Rowe spoke to 150 members and guests at our Fall Reception at Legacy Hall on October 10, 2018.
  • Twenty-three members attended the LWV-VA Fall Workshop Day at Colonial Williamsburg Conference Center on September 8, 2018, were who participated in training on advocacy strategies.
  • Fifteen members participated in the W&M Homecoming Parade on October 19, 2018, riding in a red convertible and marching, carrying banners celebrating W&M’s 100 years of admission of women and encouraging parade viewers to vote in November 6 Midterm Election in an effort to Empower Voters, Defend Democracy.
  • On November 10, 2018, 12 members attended opening day at Tenacity: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia at the Jamestown Settlement museum.
League Members at the Tenacity exhibit at Jamestown Settlement
  • Four members attended the November 19, 2018,all-day symposium on the Equal Rights Amendment, featuring law school faculty, elected officials and others.
  • Sixteen members attended the LWV-VA December 5, 2018, Pre-session Roundtable in Richmond to hear speakers, lobbyists and representatives of non-profits who highlighted upcoming proposed bills in 2019 General Assembly.
  • Seventy-five members attended the annual Holiday Reception at Schilling home on December 6, 2018.
  • On January 19, 2019, members participated in an ERA Women’s March on DOG Street, featuring elected officials and non-profit speakers, with League members marching and carrying LWV-WA and ERA banners.
  • From January 31, 2013 to January 31, 2019, our League doubled in membership, from 100 to 200.  Current membership is at 232 — and still growing.
  • Our League was the most consistent League with the largest number of members participating in the Women’s Legislative Roundtable. The six Wednesday morning sessions during General Assembly featured Delegates and non-profit lobbyists discussing bills being forwarded through committees and to the floors of the House and the Senate.  League members sitting in the Senate gallery were recognized at League Day, February 6, 2019.
  • Our April 4, 2019 New Member Orientation Reception at Schilling’s home drew 17 of our newest members to learn more about the League from Board members and to get acquainted with one another.
  • Eleven Voting Delegates and 3 Observers participated in the May 17-19, 2019, LWV-VA Convention in Norfolk with outstanding speakers and breakout sessions, bringing together Leaguers from across the Commonwealth.