The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce tried out a new format for its forum with candidates for the House of Delegates on Friday morning: seven-minute round-table discussions with each candidate, after which each candidate would get up and move to another table.
In a word, speed dating.
The chamber invited all 14 incumbent delegates and candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates to its PolicyMaker Series House of Delegates Candidate Forum. Twelve of them showed up: incumbents J. Randall Minchew (R-10), Thomas A. “Tag” Greason (R-32), Dave A. LaRock (R-33), Kathleen Murphy (D-34), James M. LeMunyon (R-67), Jennifer B. Boysko (D-86), and John J. Bell (D-87); and challengers Wendy Gooditis (D) for the 10th, David A. Reid (D) for the 32nd, Tia L. Walbridge (D) for the 33rd, Cheryl A. Buford (R) for the 34th, and Linda C. Schulz (R) for the 86th.
Only Bell’s challenger for the 87th, Subba Kolla (R), and LeMunyon’s challenger for the 67th, Karrie K. Delaney (D), didn’t show.
The new format was well received by the chamber’s membership, who gave it a room full of thumbs up at the close of the event. Chamber president and CEO Tony Howard said the morning fostered “a civil and productive dialogue.”
“I was sitting there thinking about some of the congressional town halls we see on TV, where folks feel they can intimidate, harass and yell at each other, and not exchange ideas, and not kind of come to common ground, and what you saw this morning was that folks had an opportunity to engage their candidates on the issues that matter the most to them and to hear those candidates express their priorities,” Howard said.
The people in attendance had a few topics on their mind, all of which are very familiar in Loudoun’s political circles—namely Metrorail funding, transportation, education, and workforce housing.
“They all said that when Metro can demonstrate that they have straightened out their management and governance issues—I’m of the opinion they have demonstrated they’ve straightened out the management issues, I think [Metro General Manager] Paul Wiedefeld’s done a hell of a job… they’d be willing to go to bat for more additional funding from the Commonwealth,” Howard said. “That’s the one thing that jumps out the most. Republican, Democrat, newcomer, veteran.”
Virginians will go to the polls to vote on every seat in the House of Delegates on Nov. 7.