Voices’ Blog

Recap: Gubernatorial Candidate Forum 9/8/17

Posted:  -  By: Emily Griffey

During the busy Labor Day week of campaign events, gubernatorial candidates Ed Gillespie and Ralph Northam took time to talk about critical issues facing Virginia’s families.

Close to 200 voters came to hear them describe their policy proposals to support the children of Virginia at the Sept. 8th Virginia’s Future Gubernatorial Candidate Forum, organized by Voices and hosted by Reynolds Community College. This event was the only forum to focus solely on issues impacting children and families in Virginia.

The highlight was the panel of youth moderators—high school and college students from different regions of the state – who posed the questions to the candidates. Steven Scherping, a fourth year at UVa, was selected for leading the UVA chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Sophia Booker, previously a Voices’ intern and senior in VCU’s School of Social Work, was selected for her experience representing former foster care alumni and her work at UMFS Project Life. (Read more about Sophia’s role on the UMFS blog.) Morgan Stanley, a high school junior at Kenston Forest School in Blackstone and member of the Model General Assembly, made the trip to Richmond to represent South Side. Our youngest moderator, high school freshman Makayla Jackson, was not able to attend the event at the last minute, but was selected for her participation in the Youth for RISE Advocacy Network. These students shared our interests in learning more about the candidates’ policy positions on access to health care, barriers to mental health treatment, the impact of addiction on families, the future of foster care, and more. View the Youth Moderator Panel questions here. 

The format of the forum was designed with Voices’ nonprofit, non-partisan status in mind. The candidates each appeared separately at this forum and were giving the same eight questions, as well as the same amount of time for opening and closing statements. The campaigns selected the order of appearance.

To read more about the candidates’ responses, scroll through the Twitter hashtag- #VaVotes4Kids HERE.  There was great coverage of the Forum in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (article) and Daily Press (article) covering the details shared by the candidates. The Daily Press followed up with an editorial calling for the candidates to provide more specifics about their policy proposals if elected.

We are pleased that the event was able to highlight children’s issues in the race for governor. If you would like to help us keep the focus on children between now and election day, use our 2017 Election Guide and read our articles in Richmond Family Magazine. (August- School Climate; September- Childhood Trauma)

Thanks to Reynolds Community College for hosting the forum, and to the partner organizations and volunteers who helped us!

If you would like to view the candidate’s responses you may view a recording of the forum on our YouTube channel.

Ralph Northam Questions 1-4

Ralph Northam Questions 5-8

Ed Gillespie Questions 1-8

Ed Gillespie Closing Statement

For more photos of the event check out our Facebook album.

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