College Republicans and Albemarle County Republican Committee host 25th House District GOP Forum

Candidates for the 25th House of Delegates Republican Primary were invited to speak to attendees and answer submitted questions

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The three 25th House of Delegates Republican Primary candidates — (from left to right) Marshall Pattie, Richard Fox and Chris Runion — appeared on Grounds April 9 for a debate sponsored by the College Republicans at U.Va. and the Albemarle County Republican Committee.

Kira Bannister | Cavalier Daily

University College Republicans and the Albemarle County Republican Committee hosted a candidate forum April 9 featuring the three 25th House of Delegates Republican Primary candidates — Marshall Pattie, Chris Runion and Richard Fox. This is the third forum that the organization has hosted — one debate for the U.S. Senate primary last spring and one debate with University Democrats in fall 2018 for the 5th District. 

“We are pleased to welcome the candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the 25th House of Delegates district to the University of Virginia,” Robert Andrews, a fourth-year College student and College Republicans chairman, said in a press release April 3. “We hope to provide the citizens of this district and the students at UVA an opportunity to evaluate the different platforms between each individual. We look forward to a spirited debate.”

The forum was held before the primary later this month on April 27, which will determine the Republican nominee for the 25th House District. The current delegate, Steve Landes, is not running for another term, leaving his seat open for contest. The Democratic candidates vying for this position include Jennifer Kitchen and Lauren Thompson. 

There were approximately thirty audience members at the event itself, including people from the Charlottesville community, as well as University students. To begin the forum, the audience was welcomed by Adam Kimelman, a fourth-year College student and the vice president of College Republicans.

“What do you think are the most important challenges facing the 25th district and how do you propose to address them as a member of the House of Delegates?” Kimelman asked as one of the debate’s opening questions. 

Each candidate was allotted time to respond, with Runion answering first. Runion expressed that the biggest challenge for the district to overcome was Democratic party ideologies, saying that they challenge Constitutional values.

“I think the most important challenge to our community is the radical, irrational, Democratic agenda because it does not match our values and it does not match our community,” Runion said.

Pattie chose to move the debate toward problems in rural Virginia such as the lack of Internet connection. 

“I think that the key thing here is protecting liberty,” Pattie said. “There are real issues that affect people in the 25th District that aren’t necessarily hot button issues that are critically important. One of these … is trying to provide Internet to rural communities.” 

Like Runion, Fox identified that to him, an issue facing the 25th district was the Democratic platform, but also restoring public opinion in Richmond following allegations of sexual assault against Lt. Gov Justin Fairfax (D-Va.), the admission of Attorney General Mark Herring to wearing blackface while a student at the University and the surfacing of a yearbook photo showing Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) wearing blackface during his time as a medical school student. 

However, Fox said that he does not believe Northam’s actions are worthy of impeachment. 

“We should have an investigation, but I do not see that it is an impeachable offense,” Fox said, adding that “liberals are famous for having double standards.”

The candidates then discussed questions regarding LGBTQ+ issues, the legalization of marijuana and the Second Amendment, along with other various topics from audience submitted questions, including what made the candidates qualified.

Kimelman said that College Republicans chose to host the debate in order to help students become better educated about the election and candidate platforms. 

“It’s of interest to a lot of our students in Albemarle County and a good opportunity to educate students and the public at large,” Kimelman said. “Doing forums like this is one of the coolest things we do.”

One student in attendance, first-year College student Paulina Keim, also indicated the importance of such an event for educating out-of-state students, as they are often unfamiliar with Virginia state politics prior to moving to Charlottesville. 

“I didn’t know a lot about the candidates coming into this because I’m from out of state,” Keim said. “I moved here from Florida and didn’t really know anything about this district. This event helped me learn a lot more about Virginia politics and the candidates running.”

Keim also mentioned that she believes in the importance of students participating in their local governments and exercising their right to vote. 

“It’s important for students to vote so that they can voice their opinions and have an impact on who is in office, especially with local elections because they can really affect constituents’ day to day lives,” Keim said.

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