University Democrats host debate between Charlottesville politicians

Sally Hudson and Kathy Galvin are both candidates in the Democratic primary for the Virginia House of Delegates 57th District seat

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Democratic candidates for the 57th District seat Kathy Galvin (left) and Sally Hudson (right) debate ahead of the primary election, which is scheduled for June 11.

Max Patten | Cavalier Daily

The University Democrats hosted a debate between House of Delegates Democratic candidates Sally Hudson and Kathy Galvin in Nau Hall Monday evening. The primary election for the 57th District seat is scheduled for June 11, but early voting opens April 28, providing students with the ability to vote before they leave Grounds.

Galvin has served on the Charlottesville City Council since 2012 and is also a lecturer at the University's School of Architecture. Hudson is an assistant professor of public policy, statistics and economics at the Batten School. Both candidates answered questions sent in from the University community addressing climate change, campaign contributions, inequality and the Dillon Rule, which is a provision that gives the state government authority over all legislative issues not delegated to the local government. The debate — which was open to the public —  was moderated by Politics assoc. prof. Paul Freedman.

Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) has represented the 57th District — which includes Charlottesville and portions of Albemarle County — since 2006. He also served as House Minority Leader for seven years until retiring from his leadership position last November and announced that he will also retire from the House in February.

Galvin said she has focussed on addressing poverty in Charlottesville through increasing affordable housing resources and stimulating the City’s economy as a City Councilor. She intends to support sustainability initiatives, increase pre-kindergarten education, push for gun reform and legalize marijuana, if elected.

“I believe that sustainability is how we take care of the planet,” Galvin said during the debate. “Equity is how we take care of each other.”

Hudson currently works as an adviser to Virginia government officials and is a supporter of election reform. In 2017, Hudson launched FairVote Virginia, an organization working to introduce ranked choice voting to the state — which would allow voters to rank candidates in order of preference. During the debate, she said she would continue fighting for voting rights as a delegate, and her first piece of legislation upon taking office would be writing a modern voting rights act for Virginia.

Hudson said during the debate that her top campaign priorities are addressing the rising cost of healthcare, climate change and inequitable voting laws as Virginia’s most immediate problems. She hopes to see the 57th District delegate take a prominent role in agenda setting for the General Assembly.

Both Hudson and Galvin agreed during the debate that they hope to reduce disproportionately high incarceration rates for people of color in Virginia. Galvin emphasized the elimination of the death penalty and legalization of marijuana as possible solutions to address this issue. She also added that drug addiction needs to be addressed as a mental health issue.

Hudson believes the state should compile incarceration rate data to give the government a better idea of what legislative policies to enact.

“Virginia is really behind the times when it comes to documenting those disparities state wide and centralizing them,” Hudson said.

Further, both candidates want to address racial inequity through affordable housing and education. Particularly, Galvin believes increasing access to education will help minimize racial disparities.

“I would put forth legislation to make pre-K education part of the education system,” Galvin said, when asked what legislation she would enact first upon taking office.

The University Democrats hope that the debate will enliven students and encourage them to participate in local politics.

“It is extremely important to be an informed voter, so we want our members and members of the university and the Charlottesville community to be able to hear the positions and proposed policies of the two candidates, in order to better make an informed vote come the primary,” said Kathryn Williams, a second-year College student and University Democrats communications chair, in an email to The Cavalier Daily.

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