From the looks of the VA-05 Democratic debate – nice job by the Albemarle Dems, by the way! – held this morning in Albemarle County (see video below, as well as the photo of the packed house), I’d say we’ve got four strong candidates – Leslie Cockburn, RD Huffstetler, Ben Cullop and Andrew Sneathern – vying to take on the godawful Rep. Tom Garrett (R) in the fall. Other than that, a few highlights that jumped out at me were as follows:
- All four candidates said they would NOT accept contributions from Dominion Energy and all four candidates said they STRONGLY oppose both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. RD Huffstetler added that the process in DC is rigged in favor of the energy companies, also that eminent domain must be in the PUBLIC interest, not the PRIVATE interest. Ben Cullop added that he wouldn’t take a dime from corporate PACs, that “corporate money in politics is a foundational issue,” and that we need to keep the pressure on Dominion. Andrew Sneathern ripped the abuse of eminent domain for corporate benefit, pledged to “never, ever” take money from Dominion, and said he “cannot find from any angle how these pipelines are beneficial to our community,” while talking about the damaging “fossil fuel that Dominion is so addicted to making money off of” that is “not in demand.” Leslie Cockburn said she’s fought pipelines, power lines and uranium mining for “over a decade,” that these pipelines are “destroying lives,” that “FERC is breaking the law” and this “must be stopped.” There was also discussion of moving towards a clean energy future.
- Leslie Cockburn stressed that VA-05 needs a CongressWOMAN and that this is the year of the woman.
- On health care, Cockburn said, “I support universal healthcare, I support Medicare for all…healthcare should be a RIGHT!” Huffstetler said he supports “fixing ACA so that we can make sure we continue to expand coverage…we ought to be celebrating ACA.” Cullop said he believes “every American should have access to affordable health, high-quality care,” and talked about his four-year-old daughter, who was born “severely premature,” and how the charges were “north of half a million dollars.” Cullop said he supports Sen. Tim Kaine’s Medicare X proposal and that health care is the biggest issue people bring up on the campaign trail. Sneathern said he believes “single payer is the answer” on healthcare, that “the insurance companies cannot be trusted to be involved in this process,” that healthcare is a right, and that “this is the issue on which we will win back this 5th district.”
- All four candidates said they support Black Lives Matter. Sneathern added that in Charlottesville, “we know that out of 101 stop and frisks by police, 71 were of African Americans…We’re not talking about racism from 200 years ago, we’re talking about our own internal biases right here in the bluest spot in Virginia…but when kids that look like mine aren’t treated the same walking down the street as a kid who lives in a darker skin color, we have a lot of work to do.” Cockburn said “it is happening again; it happened in Charlottesville…racial justice issues have to be at the top for all of us running for Congress.” Huffstetler said August 12 in Charlottesville “had a big impact on me, to feel powerless to stop something so evil, and we’ve all got to do more…so people can be treated equally” and that it’s “heartbreaking” that African-American parents have to have “the talk” with their kids about what to do if they come into contact with the police. Cullop said we live in a society with “institutionalized and systemic racism, and we need a Congressman who is going to go to Washington and work on these issues in concrete ways…who’s going to stand up [against] injustice…I have lived a life of white privilege…that doesn’t mean that I don’t understand that others have not.”
Full house downtown for the Albemarle/Charlottesville candidates forum! Follow along for highlights from RD pic.twitter.com/VNXC1SKohj
— RD Huffstetler (@rdhjr) January 27, 2018