It’s a packed house at Virginia Hospital Center’s Hazel Conference Center, where a debate between the local candidates for congress, county board and school board is about to get underway.
First observation of the night: lots of Murray signs on George Mason Drive on the way up to the hospital. Didn’t spot any Moran signs.
(Update: The first controversy of the night. The county Office of Voter Registration tweets that candidate signs are prohibited until 30 days before the election.)
The congressional candidate debate between incumbent Jim Moran (Democrat) and challengers Patrick Murray (Republican) and Ron Fisher (Green) started at 7:45 p.m. Patrick Murray spoke first, and received loud applause.
Update at 8:00 p.m. — Murray largely focuses on Moran, and Moran talked mostly about Moran. Moran also received loud applause, mixed with some whistling.
8:05 — Question for Moran on his controversial mailer from the indefatigable Bob Atkins. Moran says the mailing cost some $100k, not $1 million as Murray alleged. Murray on glossy mailer: “I thought it was a quarterly stock report from Goldman Sachs.”
8:10 — An outburst from a questioner who asked if the candidates believed in the Constitution. Second time they’ve had to call the room to order. For the record, yes, all three candidates support the Constitution.
8:15 — Question about abortion. Moran, Fischer unabashedly pro-choice. Murray downplays his position, says it should be left to the states.
8:20 — Closing remarks underway. Moran makes no apologies for spending. “I earmark a lot of money through the appropriations process.” Murray criticizes Moran for voting to raise his own pay.
8:25 — School board program underway. Incumbent Sally Baird and challenger Miriam Gennari.
8:35 — Gennari (Green Party) is making environmental sustainability her main issue. Baird (Democrat) emphasizing student achievement.
8:45 — Question from civic activist Jim Pebley about the planetarium. Gennari had already mentioned it, said said she supports keeping it open. Baird says she’s also a “friend of the planetarium,” but supports the “community dialog” about its dual instructional/community role.
8:50 — On to the county board candidates. Incumbent Chris Zimmerman (Democrat), along with challengers Mark Kelly (Republican) and Kevin Chisholm (Green Party).
9:20 — Fast-paced discussion. Less contentious than the congressional debate. Kelly emphasizing fiscal responsibility, and tweaking Zimmerman on Metro. Zimmerman emphasizing affordable housing and transportation.
9:25 — And it’s over. The Civic Federation is now discussing LED streetlights.