<bt>One of the prettiest Saturdays in a long time wasn’t enough to keep away a group of dedicated Democrat supporters. About a hundred people attended the candidate’s forum that was held last weekend at the Mount Vernon Government Center.
“The number of people we had was more than we see at a candidate’s night,” said Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland.
Hyland moderated the event, while Arnold Edelman, president of the Hollin Hills Democratic Club, kept the timer. Edelman was also responsible for organizing the event.
Speaking at the event were the six candidates vying for the 45th District House of Delegates seat, which will be vacated by long-time delegate Marian Van Landingham.
The six candidates: David Englin, Libby Garvey, Richard Hobson, Jim Lay, Laura Mandala and Elsie Mosqueda were first asked to speak briefly about their backgrounds and their goals. They then answered questions from the audience.
Englin focused on his going “house to house, door to door, precinct to precinct.” He is concerned about healthcare and is in favor of a program called ISAVERX, which allows Americans to purchase prescription drugs from overseas companies. Englin also believes that we have to “fix and fund education.”
Garvey spoke about how she ran for the Arlington School Board and lost — and then ran again and won.
“I started to try to change things as an activist, and then I was asked to run for school board,” she said.
Garvey said that she was recently reelected to her third term and was the top vote getter in every precinct. She believes that she is the best candidate because she has eight years of experience representing a large, diverse population, and because she has experience around the state.
Richard Hobson said that he is “running because my friend, Marian, can’t. I am running because I am concerned about Republican property tax relief.”
He is basing his candidacy on his experience serving in the House of Delegates in the late '70s, and said that if elected, he would be the most senior person.
“I am familiar with the issues facing Northern Virginia,” Hobson said. “I am current on the issues and will put my experience and seniority to work for you.”
Jim Lang provided some comic relief by explaining to the audience why he was different. After realizing that all of his “unique” qualifiers were already taken by at least one of the other candidates, he offered the one qualifier that none of the other candidates could match — he voted for John McCain in 2000.
Lang is a new Democrat, and he is not afraid to admit it. “I will embrace the characteristics that make this party great and build on this party,” Lang said.
He also said that he was the only candidate that has lived in all three of the jurisdictions represented by the 45th district delegate — Arlington County, City of Alexandria and Fairfax County. He thinks that NCLB (No Child Left Behind) needs to die a quick death and gang violence needs to be addressed by focusing on the children and why they get involved.
LAURA MANDALA believes that “we are fighting the fight of our lives in Richmond.”
“This seat is not about representing the good things in Northern Virginia, but taking it a step further to give voice to Democratic principles,” she said.
As a small business owner, she has studied social issues and learned how to bring people together.
Elsie Mosqueda said she is running because “I am a new grandmother and I want to leave my grandchildren a better Virginia.”
She wants to build on Van Landingham’s legacy, and is concerned about the environment and the underfunding of NCLB.
“I was taught to stand up and speak out — and I have stood up and spoken out for things like women’s equality, Alexandria children and NOVAM (Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry).”
Questions to the candidates ranged from the generic, how committed are you to the party — to the very specific, how do you feel about the widening of I-66?
When asked which Republican value they most ascribe to, they came up with different responses. Hobson believes in fiscal responsibility; Englin ascribes to moral values; Garvey is in favor of a limited role of government; Mandela favors the traditional business model of making policy; and Mosqueda believes in a responsible government.
“I thought each of the candidates expressed themselves on the issues and each one brought something to the voters,” Hyland said. While he has not yet endorsed any of the candidates, he said, “Each could convince that their candidacy was viable and if elected, would serve the population well. Each candidate is different, but responded to the issues. I was very impressed with the six candidates and could be comfortable with any one of them going to Richmond. Each one is well qualified and I have a good feeling.”
The Democratic primary will be held June 14.