With 46 days to go until the primary elections on June 13, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Tom Perriello visited Sterling last night for a town hall meeting at the Claude Moore Recreation Center.
“For me, right now, there is no more important decision that we have to make in the commonwealth of Virginia than in choosing our next governor,” Perriello said. He pointed out the next governor will preside over redistricting—and therefore the threat of gerrymandering, for which Virginia’s electoral districts have been criticized—and will hold a veto pen over the Republican-controlled legislature.
He used the back-and-forth with audience members to pitch and explain his ideas for the state, such as two free years of community college or trade school and a $15 an hour minimum wage. Each, he said, would pay dividends for both low-income residents and taxpayers, as people with newly-acquired industry certifications, apprenticeships, and associate’s degrees come off of welfare and into higher-paying jobs, and as people with more income spend more on extras like restaurants and vacations.
The discussion covered a wide range of topics, and although the audience was strongly Democratic, several challenged Perriello on his views and his ability to beat what they saw as the likely Republican candidate for governor, Ed Gillespie.
“I believe that we do better when we actually go bolder, when we stand for the kinds of options that people say can affect their lives, like debt-free tuition,” Perriello said.
In a race that has already garnered national attention, Perriello also contrasted his vision with that of President Donald J. Trump.
“We will either look back 10 years from now and see the election of Donald Trump as the beginning of the unraveling of so many of the values we care about and the constitutional structures that we care about,” Perriello said, “Or we will look back and see it as the last gasp of a dying, racist ideology whose time had come and gone.”
Perriello was introduced by two prominent local Democrats who have endorsed him: Sterling District Supervisor Koran T. Saines and LuAnn Bennett, who mounted an unsuccessful challenge to Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10) in 2016.
Incumbent Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) can’t seek re-election because the Virginia Constitution prohibits individuals from serving consecutive terms in the seat.