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Monday, October 5, 2015

General Assembly candidates speak at minority chambers' forum



Candidates running for office in Northern Virginia.

There were more candidates than spectators at the Third Annual Multicultural Chambers Candidate Forum Oct. 4 at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale. There were so many candidates, in fact, that each one was given about 30 seconds to speak.

The event was sponsored by the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce, and Asian American Chamber of Commerce.

Only candidates for the Virginia legislature were invited to participate, and except for one independent candidate, only Democrats showed up. There was no debate and no questions from the audience, although there was plenty of time for informal mingling and chatting with the politicians.

Twenty candidates gave brief statements. Here’s what some of the candidates whose districts include a part of or are near the Annandale/Mason area had to say:

Dave Marsden, running for re-election in 37th Senate district (Annandale, Burke), spoke about his background growing up on a family farm on Woodburn Road, Annandale.

Vivian Watts said she was honored to represent the 39th District (Annandale, Springfield, Franconia) in the House and asked her constituents to re-elect her. 

Alfonso Lopez, who represents the 49th District in the House (Seven Corners, Bailey’s Crossroads, Arlington), cited affordable housing, college access for immigrants, and renewable energy as his top issues. 

David Bulova, seeking re-election to the 37th District in the House (City of Fairfax, Centreville), said he wants to increase the investment in education and transportation and supports efforts to diversify the economy.

Charniele Herring, running for re-election in the 46th District (Alexandria), spoke about her efforts to fight predatory lending and support higher education as the key to upward mobility.

Mark Keam, who represents the 35th District (Vienna, Oakton, Tysons) in the House of Delegates, wants to maintain Virginia position as “the best place for jobs, businesses, schools, and public safety.”

Paul McIlvaine, running as an independent against incumbent Del. Mark Sickles in the 43rd House District (Alexandria, Franconia, Kingstowne), said his top priorities are ethics, economic growth, health care, senior tax discrimination, and election accuracy.


Several candidates for other offices were in the audience, including Bettina Lawton, who is running for Fairfax County clerk of the court against the incumbent, John Frey. Lawton said she wants to improve public access to the courthouse, keep the courthouse open in the evenings for services like marriage licenses and business licenses, and provide more information on the court’s website, including up-to-date information for jurors.

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