Sunday, June 16, 2024

‘Meet the Candidates’ Forums to Take Place at Williamsburg Regional Library

Candidates take part in a League of Women Voters of the Williamsburg area forum in 2016.

WILLIAMSBURG — To help voters get to know the candidates in the Nov. 7 election, the League of Women Voters Williamsburg Area, York-James City-Williamsburg NAACP, and Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy are co-sponsoring two upcoming events at the Williamsburg Regional Library auditorium.

Williamsburg Area League president Susan Bivins said she invites everyone to come meet the candidates and hear how these potential leaders plan to lead our community.

“The expression is ‘all politics is local,’ and this is a great chance to learn about local concerns. While joining the League of Women Voters is always the best option, you don’t have to be a member to attend. We hope to see a large group of voters at these two events,” stated Bivins.

The first event for state legislative candidates will be held on Sept. 21 from 6 to 8 p.m.

The candidates from the following legislative district races have confirmed attendance:

  • House of Delegates District 71 — Jessica Anderson, Democrat
  • State Senate District 24 — Monty Mason, Democrat
  • State Senate District 26 — Pam Garner, Democrat

Republicans Danny Diggs, Ryan McDougle and Amanda Batten declined the invitation.

League of Women Voters state director, Denise Harrington will introduce the candidates, and following, each candidate will have five minutes to address the people in the auditorium. Then candidates will go to the Schell room and lobby to talk with voters and take questions.

“We value non-partisanship, and we are looking forward to this event, even though some
candidates won’t be able to attend,” said Sheila Herlihy Hennessee, Faith Organizer with the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. “This is such a great opportunity to have real-time conversation with candidates, so we want to keep the door open for as many voters, and candidates, as possible to attend.”

The second event will take place on Sept. 28 to introduce James City County local candidates.

The following legislative district candidates will be in attendance:

  • Berkeley — Ruth Larson, Independent, and John Curran, Republican
  • Roberts — John McGlennon, Democrat
  • Stonehouse — Lisa Ownby, Democrat

Republicans Trevor Topping and Barbara Null declined the invitation.

For school board races, those who have confirmed their attendance include:

  • Berkeley — Randy Riffle;
  • Roberts — Max Blalock and Dan Cavazos
  • Stonehouse — Damon Walker.

Marvin Franz and Michael Hosang will not be in attendance.

Charles Gates from NAACP will moderate the local candidate forum.

“Our organizations are pleased to offer this event for voters to meet the candidates,” said
Denise Koch, co-chair of voter services for the League of Women Voters. “We all share a long history of non-partisan outreach to educate voters and to promote the democratic process. All candidates in these races were invited beginning in June and offered multiple opportunities to participate.”

“We are disappointed that many chose not to join us and while we will allow candidates who accepted the opportunity to speak to voters, we are not able to have a traditional forum with all candidates responding to questions,” Koch added. “While voters hear from candidates through multiple media, there is nothing like seeing candidates in person and hearing them respond to questions. Their absence also deprives the candidates of the
opportunity to hone their positions and to interact in real-time with the people they wish to

At both events, participants will have an opportunity to speak to the candidates.

Attendees are asked to pre-register for the Sept. 21 event as space is limited. No registration is required for the Sept. 28 forum.

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