About 100 people packed into a conference room at the Rust Library in Leesburg on Tuesday night to hear Virginia House of Delegates candidates for the 10th and 33rd districts debate issues including gun control, Confederate war memorials, Metro and traffic.
The candidate forum was hosted by the League of Women Voters of Loudoun County, and invited the candidates to lay out their priorities ahead of the Nov. 7 election. Del. Randy Minchew (R-10), his challenger Democrat Wendy Gooditis and Democrat Tia Walbridge, the 33rd District challenger, attended the forum. Incumbent Del. David LaRock (R-33) was absent.
Candidates were given an initial two minutes for an introduction before taking turns of 90 seconds each to answer questions written on notecards from the public.
Because the forum was held just two days after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, a major topic was gun control.
Walbridge brought up her background in sheep farming to express her understanding for the need of guns to protect livestock. However, both she and Gooditis said there needs to be more control in who can purchase them.
“We can prevent guns from being put into the hands of people with severe mental issues,” Gooditis said. “We can do that now.”
Another key topic discussed was the question of whether localities should have the power remove Confederate war memorials.
Minchew talked about the confusion surrounding whether a new state law is needed to give local counties and cities say over the fate of statues and monuments.
Walbridge and Gooditis, however, both said the monuments should be in museums instead of in public settings. “I would love to see them in museums with plenty of historical context,” Gooditis said.
When asked if the candidates would support a tax increase to help the region’s cash-strapped Metro system, all three agreed the federal government needs to play a larger role in helping to fund it.
“I will not support a tax increase for Metro,” Minchew said. “The federal government indeed needs to come to the table.”
Traffic on Rt. 15 north of Leesburg was also brought up. All three candidates agreed that road improvements need to be made.
Minchew and Gooditis said roundabouts might be the best solution, while Walbridge said putting rumble strips back in place after paving projects could help in the short term.
“Little things like that we can do right now,” Walbridge said. “My district also has Rt. 9 so we talk traffic quite a lot.”
With elections about a month away, Minchew and LaRock are seeking re-election for fourth and third terms, respectively. Gooditis and Walbridge are trying to beat them out as first-timers.
Loudoun Times-Mirror Managing Editor Trevor Baratko moderated the event.