Americans have a long history of political involvement. Our country was founded upon it. Sadly that custom among the average citizen has fallen into disuse.
We Surround Them - Richmond is reviving that custom.
Over seventy people gathered together on October 23rd to listen to candidates and confront them. Endorsing neither candidate or party, WST invited politicians that seemed to either follow or, at leastsupport, the values of the 9/12 Project of smaller government, greater freedom, and a return to the principles expressed in the Constitution.
Following a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and an invocation, the floor was opened to the attending candidates.
Mr. Ken Cuccinelli, Republican candidate for Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia, spoke first. In summary of the first part of his statement, Mr. Cuccinelli illustrated the how he and his opponent, Mr. Shannon differ. And he recalled the recent comments at a debate in which his Democratic opponent linked Mr. Cuccinelli's support of the 10 Amendment to horrendous acts, such as sterilization, segregation, etc, that were previously tolerated in Virginia. Ken then went on to say that, apparently Mr. Shannon had forgotten that all of these acts took place under DEMOCRATIC governments. Mr. Shannon tried to link Mr. Cuccinelli to support of slavery and racism because of his support of Constitutional principles. "Now remember, this is a man that has had dinner in MY house......that won't be happening again.", quipped Mr. Cuccinelli.
His goal is to protect the Commonwealth of Virginia as written in the Constitution: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,
and is willing to sue the Federal government when necessary.
One of his key principles is his support of property rights, and reminded us of the amendment that further supported private property rights that he wanted to add to the Virginia Constitution; one which Creigh Deeds voted against.
He is proud of his record of supporting basic principles, even ones deemed controversial. Controversial, of course, to those that seek to restrict rights. He will fight the federal gevernment when they over-reach. He is a loud and proud supporter of the 2nd Amendment. He will support the Marriage Amendment and likes to contrast his 0% AFL-CIO voting record with his opponents 100% AFL-CIO voting record.
Complimenting Mr. McDonnell's campaign as a jobs governor, Mr. Cuccinelli's background in the energy development field will help the Commonwealth be the leader in the development the energy industry on the East coast. He believes that ALL domestic energy sources should be developed.
Finally, Mr. Cuccinelli said something that endeared him to many at the meeting: "I am willing to fight with my own party over basic principles. I feel no obligation to stick with someone that is wrong." To paraphrase: Republicans are only valuable as a party only as they are willing to defend the principles that they espouse.
Next to present his candidacy was Ernest Sampson of the 69th District, the 2nd most Democratic district in the state.
Mr. Sampson touts his non-traditional campaign and his hard work for his success. His campaign has knocked on over 16,000 doors, 70% of them personally. He says that his future constituents are surprised when he presents himself. He is an African-American Republican. Or as he most emphatically puts it: He is an AMERICAN and a Republican that happens to be black.
He majored in economics at VMI and earned an MBA at VCU. His goal is to improve the educational situation and bring more jobs to his district. As a businessman, a financial adviser, he say that he knows what is need to help the 69th. He supports tax credits for starting businesses or hiring employees. He wants to improve public safety and the public schools, thereby making his district a good place for business.
When asked if the citizenry can trust him to keep to his espoused principles when in office, he looked at his VMI ring and stated that he had learned a valuable lesson at VMI: Honor Above Self. "If I don't uphold my principles to your standards, kick me out of office."
The next candidate to speak was "Mannoli" Loupassi of the 68th District.
"If government does everything of the citizen, we create invalids. The more the government does, the less WE are." Mr. Loupassi spoke of the United States as we all, well most of us, see it: as a land of opportunity and hard work. It is that work ethic that he sees Americans losing. Everyone seems to want everything provided to them by the government. Since that is impossible, in addition to being wrong, he wants to restrict spending to the rate of population growth + inflation by amending the State Constitution. "We must PRIORITIZE and cut programs."
From the 74th District, came Michael Gage, a small business owner. His opponent is Fightin' Joe Morrisey. As an active member in his community, he sees how overreaching government at all levels can restrict freedoms and business. While supporting commonsense rules and safety regulations, he feels that business is over-regulated and that local and state governments make laws without regard to the local citizenry. He sees how the Democratic politicians will say one thing and do another. What you see is NOT what you get when you see his opponent. Mr. Gage feels that it is the job of the government, at whatever level, to protect the citizen as they go about the business of being who they aspire to be.
Dr. John O'Bannon III of the 73rd District brought back the fact that even local campaigns have a national effect. Virginia is being watched and this is the opportunity to send a message to the country that "we don't want Card Check, Cap & Trade, or Socialized Health Care. Virginia is ground zero." When asked, "What is the role of government?" His answer was "Whose money IS IT?" While public safety, education, roads, etc., should be the role of government, we can't solve everyone's problems.
In answer to a question on the health care debate, he answered that we have to get people engaged in their own health care needs. We need to get the insurance companies working for the consumer. More competition will help people and hospitals understand costs. Right now, no one knows what a medical procedure actually costs, including hospitals.
Lastly, a spokesman for Mr. Sam Nixon of the 27th District spoke, as Mr. Nixon was forced to cancel his appearance due to a family emergency.
Thought Mr. Nixon is running unopposed, he is still campaigning so that his constituents know that he does not take their vote for granted. He supports more energy development in the Commonwealth. He wants more responsible budgeting and more prioritizing, not more taxes. Related to that, he supports identifying lobbyists and what they are supporting/paying for in greater detail by tying individual bills to the lobbyist involved.
The evening was a great success, especially as a first event. I fully support their efforts. All citizens, Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, or any other "flavor", should join the WST-Richmond organization. They are a non-partisan group dedicated to holding OUR representatives accountable for their actions and the ideas they support.