The election season is coming on full force at the University, where last night students had an opportunity to hear both Democratic and Republican candidates for state and local offices pitch their platforms.
The candidates, who, coincidentally, were invited by the University Democrats and College Republicans on the same night in Cabell Hall, went on to discuss the issues that most concerned them, including education and health care.
Ed Wayland, a Democratic candidate for the state House of Delegates, spoke first at a meeting of University Democrats, where he stressed that this election cycle is crucial, since the majority in the Virginia General Assembly is up for grabs. Currently 21 Republicans and 19 Democrats hold seats in the Assembly.
Wayland described his specialty as "working with ordinary people [to] make their lives better."
Incumbent state Sen. Emily Couric (D-Charlottesville) spoke next, emphasizing three main agendas in both her campaign and her current position as senator: affordable access to quality healthcare, education and economic growth that will not compromise quality of life.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Republican state senatorial candidate Jane Maddux ensured students at the College Republicans meeting -- held less than an hour later -- that she upholds basic conservative principles, such as lower taxes and less government control.
Although historically it has been difficult for a challenger to beat an incumbent, Maddux said her race against Couric is by no means over.
"I have a wonderful grassroots campaign that is gaining momentum every day," Maddux said.
College Republicans President John Blair agreed that Maddux will give Couric a run for her money.
"I think if you look at [Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III's (R)] success in the district, it would be foolish to say Maddux doesn't have a good shot," Blair said.
All three candidates stressed how important it is for students to participate in the political process and how much they need everyone's help. More than 75 students attended the speeches, with a majority attending the University Democrats' program.
One student said his reason for attending Maddux's speech was to form an educated opinion about the political race.
"I don't know enough about one candidate or the other," first-year College student Jeff Scherr said.
Other students already were familiar with the candidates' platforms and wanted to show their support.
"I like [Couric's] issues, what she stands for," first-year College student Tiffany Casey said.
University Democrats President Rhodes Ritenour agreed Couric has "a very solid platform. [She is] one of the best leaders in the Commonwealth of Virginia."
All three candidates wanted to emphasize to students that they are regular people, just like their constituents.
Couric, who lives near Grounds on Rugby Road, stressed her close proximity and ties to the University.
Maddux, who owns a hair salon in Charlottesville, joked that she was just like a member of the family.
"I am just like your mother," she said, to the laughter of the audience.
Wayland also said that he was down to earth, saying that he "stand[s] for people," while his opponent, Paul Harris (R-Albemarle), is "dramatically out of step with the mainstream community."
Students said they related well to the candidates.
Couric "seems like she's a common person," third-year College student Vesla Weaver said.
Maddux "doesn't seem like the average politician," second-year College Monique Miles said.
With elections quickly approaching, the candidates have until Nov. 2 to communicate with voters and make their positions clear.
Both University Democrats and College Republicans will be helping their candidates by providing manpower to distribute literature, registering voters and campaigning door to door in the community.