I’ll try to add some commentary on this later. For now, here are the videos from last night’s Arlington Young Dems’ debate between State Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington/Fairfax/Loudoun) and Democratic challenger Nicole Merlene.
Nicole Merlene opening statement – talked about how difficult it is as a young person to afford a home, buy a car, think about getting married and having a family. She talked about the environment, the willingness to stand up to Dominion, for “public transportation, renter’s rights…affordable health care.” She said she doesn’t want to be a Senator who’s “sold to the highest bidder.”
Sen. Barbara Favola opening statement – Said she knows this community “inside and out,” has been a leader in the county for decades and has been “recognized for that.” “I am a pragmatic progressive; I’ve passed over 40 bills in the General Assembly.” Emphasized affordable housing, children’s health and “improving access to health care for everybody,” “gun safety measures,” the environment, workforce training…”I have a plan for debt-free community college.”
Question on protecting vulnerable communities, low-income families: Sen. Favola said she’s advocated for additional dollars to at-risk school systems, also for improving the safety net. Merlene said this district is very diverse, and opportunities are very different depending on where you live.
Question on “skyrocketing housing prices” – Merlene talked about reforming the down payment assistance program, fighting for renter’s rights. Favola said we need to increase the supply of housing and the diversity of housing options priced at different levels. She said we also have to do a better job of providing affordable units.
Question on “go-to partners” on affordable housing
Should interns be paid? Merlene said it’s very difficult for campaigns to fundraise, so it’s difficult, but definitely interns should be paid at the state and federal levels. Favola said interns in Richmond get school credit, and that she has a stipend program for her campaign interns.
Questions on Amazon coming to Arlington, also Green New Deal Merlene talked about the importance of data privacy and the lack of leadership on this. She said she hopes to be a leader on data privacy in the State Senate. She reiterated that the Amazon deal is a net benefit for Arlington and that she supports it. On the Green New Deal, Favola said it’s got a “great framework” for dealing with climate change, that she expects it to evolve over time, thinks it’s more of a federal issue than a state issue, but supports Virginia participation in RGGI. Merlene said she strongly supports the Green New Deal, that the key is creating jobs and creating a green economy – a “win win.” She also talked about recycling, specifically using crushed glass to use for roads.
Nicole Merlene criticizes Sen. Barbara Favola on Advanced Towing. This was definitely the biggest flash point in the debate, as Merlene criticized Favola for a piece of legislation in 2017 that relaxed towing regulations/rules. Favola responded that she voted with the county on that bill, “what Gov. McAuliffe decided to do is Gov. McAuliffe’s prerogative.”
Say something positive about your opponent. Favola said Merlene “brings a lot of energy to the conversation” and has “some interesting ideas.” Merlene said “Barbara has been a fixture in Arlington County for a number of years and…has done a great job for the county…I appreciate your service.”
Nicole Merlene, Barbara Favola closing statements