Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Forum gives Democrats last chance to garner firehouse primary votes

From left to right: Sam Rasoul, Dr. Dave Trinkle, Trish White-Boyd and Court Rosen.

From left to right: Sam Rasoul, Dr. Dave Trinkle, Trish White-Boyd and Court Rosen.

Four Democrats want to snag retiring Delegate Onzlee Ware’s 11th district House seat. Council members Dave Trinkle  and Court Rosen along with Sam Rasoul and Patricia White-Boyd presented their case at Tuesday’s forum hosted by the Urban Professional League and moderated by WDBJ7 anchor Hollani Davis.

The questions were mostly geared toward easy Democratic answers. The forum did give them a chance to nuance their answers with some innovative ideas and explanations.

All candidates praised Delegate Onzlee Ware who is resigning his 11th district House seat. They all supported Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act and changing Virginia’s constitution from prohibiting same sex marriage.

Trinkle said, “Virginia is heading backward on its stance on its legal definition of marriage … it’s embarrassing nationally.” Businesses will leave Virginia he said. “Discrimination is wrong,” said Rosen and Boyd. Rasoul added that discrimination in the workplace along with bullying also needs to be addressed.

On allowing local school boards to set their own school year start dates all were in agreement. “It’s a no brainer,” said Rosen. It effects duel enrollment with Virginia Western Community College. “Everyone does not want to go to college,” said Boyd. She would like those students to have the opportunity to prepare for jobs in vocational fields. Trinkle said that Roanoke as an urban school district is challenged to meet SOL scores and improve graduation rates. Rasoul said that the state is trying to take a cookie cutter approach to education and the state mandates testing too often and too soon. “It doesn’t give our teachers the latitude to invest in our students.”

Boyd differentiated herself from the other candidates when answering a question on allowing the state to takeover a failing school. Boyd said she agreed that the state should step in to “make it function properly. I think it’s a good idea – we certainly don’t want our schools to fail.” The other candidates strongly disagreed. Rosen said that “our schools are being set up to fail.” Trinkle pointed out how the state changed administration of the SOLs in the middle of the year. Rasoul said more funding is needed for struggling schools with socioeconomic challenges.

On what each candidate would prioritize if elected to the House of Delegates Trinkle touted his experience as a geriatric psychiatrist at Carilion Medical Center. “The time is now to have somebody with experience to change and help reform healthcare at the state level that will be long-lasting.” He would also work to eliminate state mandates to localities.

Boyd’s priority would be to create programs that would increase employment and tourism. Rosen said he would press to have passenger rail extended to Blacksburg and would like to see I-581 extended to Martinsville “to create a better transportation hub.” Rasoul recognized that “we’re in a Democratic island here” and that he said that he had learned from Delegate Ware that it took time to build relationships in Richmond. He would prioritize building those relationships.

On Mental Health issues Rasoul noted that as of December 1st the Department of Medical Assistance Services placed new restrictions impeding mental health services in Virginia and “it is a step in the wrong direction.” The new regulations he said were particularly hard on veterans with PTSD and the homeless.

The candidates focused on education and a skilled workforce as primary ingredients to economic development. Rasoul pointed out that workforce development should start at the smallest level including “mom and pop” startups.

Boyd stressed the need for diversity in the General Assembly saying that only 18 out of 100 delegates were female. Females are underrepresented. Rosen said “diversity is many things to many people … even if they are not of the same group of people … you can still represent their needs.” Rasoul said as a son of immigrants he has had to work harder to earn respect and overcome the “good ol’ boys” network.

Trinkle said as a psychiatrist that he has dealt with mental health issues every day. Boyd said Medicaid expansion would help with mental health. Rosen agreed that it was critically underfunded.

All would keep the ban on uranium mining and would support whoever wins at Saturday’s firehouse primary.

Octavia Johnson the Republican nominee declined to attend the forum. She will get a chance to debate the winner of the December 7 firehouse primary to be held at the Roanoke Special Events Center from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The special election is January 7.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Election 2013, Election 2014, Elections, Politics, State Politics

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