Electing the future
Virginia politicians prepare for Nov. elections
Despite cooler weather on the horizon, the state of Virginia is heating up as a plethora of political elections looms over the people.
On Nov. 7, Virginia will have a series of elections, including local and statewide seats such as attorney general, lieutenant governor and governor.
Running for governor to replace incumbent Democrat Terry McAuliffe are Democrat Ralph Northam, Republican Ed Gillespie and Libertarian Cliff Hyra.
Some major issues Northam’s campaign is focusing on are reforming education by paying teachers more and reducing the cost of college, refining gun control and providing affordable healthcare.
Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello praised Northam’s education reform plans.
“Ralph Northam has put out a positive plan of debt free community college and more affordable four-year universities and greater transparency for families who are going through what is often a very complicated admissions process for financial aid,” Perriello said.
Gillespie’s campaign is focusing on major tax cuts, projecting 10 percent tax cuts across the board, improving government efficiency and growing Virginia’s economy.
Current Republican delegate seeking re-election Scott Garrett praised Gillespie’s views on government and how he is approaching his policies.
“(Gillespie) believes in the strength of our businesses, he knows that the government telling you how to run a business is not the solution,” Garrett said.
“He understands our fundamental freedoms, believes in our constitution, is willing to abide by it and promote it.”
Hyra has plans to reduce government by decreasing taxes and regulations that prevent small businesses growth.
However, the candidate is at a distinct disadvantage after being denied a place on debate stages.
Liberty’s College Libertarians Chapter President Tito Reyes said this will not stop Hyra from gaining traction.
“We’re still going to try to fight our way into debates,” Reyes said.
“But instead of focusing on that and completely abandoning all opportunities to get media, (Hyra) is really good at getting his voice out there, taking the opportunities that he does have when he’s just not going to make it into debates.”
On the other hand, Remso Martinez, a Republican political podcaster and activist, said the state elections are not as important as local ones.
“Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who is governor because the governor is just going to go ahead and sign whatever the house of delegates and state senate pushes up,” Martinez said.
“It’s the local elections that matter.”
The Virginia House of Delegates and many local offices will be electing new members as well.
Garrett said his work has helped benefit Liberty students through methods like the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant, which was in jeopardy last year.
The grant offers eligible undergraduate Liberty students $3,300 per year.
“I usually work every year to have people understand the tuition assistance grants are critically important and the Liberty University students are the largest recipients of tuition assistance grants statewide,” Garrett said.
Campaign teams are hard at work getting citizens registered to vote and informed on the issues and policies each candidate will focus on.
“Be out and be educated and ask yourself who you identify with more,” Reyes said.
“If it’s going to be Republican or Democrat, be serious about that decision and refine those opinions that you have in your head and be ready to talk about them with people.”
According to the Virginia Department of Elections, during the 2013 gubernatorial election, Liberty’s precinct was overwhelmingly Republican.
College Republican at Liberty University President John Wood said Liberty has a major sway in how the elections turn out in state.
“Liberty is really becoming, if it’s not already there, one of the most influential precincts in the state,” Wood said.
“When you look at the numbers that turn out … we can literally change elections.”
The deadline to register to vote for the November elections is Monday, Oct. 16. The deadline for absentee ballots is Tuesday, Oct. 31.
PANYARD is the news editor.