Democratic Fifth Congressional District candidates Andy Parker and Joshua Throneburg outlined some of their priorities and visions for the district during an in-person candidates forum on Tuesday.
Co-hosted by the Democratic committees of Goochland, Louisa, Powhatan and Albemarle, the event at the Goochland Recreation Center was a rare event in a post-COVID world, allowing candidates to share a stage and speak directly to voters.
But the specter of COVID still loomed, with the announced moderator unable to attend due to contracting the virus. Nonetheless, Democrats persisted as the candidates tackled a wide range of topics during the roughly 90-minute event.
Parker, a former member of the Henry County Board of Supervisors, has become well known in recent years for his efforts to expand gun control legislation. At Tuesday’s forum, Parker highlighted his support for gun control efforts, which he says are inspired by the murder of his daughter Alison Parker, a TV reporter who, along with photojournalist Adam Ward, was shot dead in 2015.
People also read…
“When my beautiful daughter was shot and killed on live TV, I had a choice: either I could curl up in the fetal position and wither away, or I could defend myself and honor her with actions,” he said. -he declares. “I chose the latter. I know what it takes to pick yourself up and move forward.
Throneburg, an ordained minister and small business owner, highlighted the impact of his family and values in his decision to seek public office. Asked about gun control, Throneburg also advocated for tougher gun control legislation and said cooperation between the parties would be crucial.
“The reality is that Sandy Hook happened 10 years ago and Columbine 20 years ago and we’re still sitting here having the same conversation decades later,” he said. “As Democrats, we can’t just go and do whatever we want. It’s clear. We’re going to have to cooperate. »
Later in the forum, the candidates were asked how they plan to win an election in the 5th District, which is generally seen by political analysts as favoring Republicans. Last year, the 5th District was redrawn in a once-a-decade process, moving the district slightly south and east to now include Fluvanna, Louisa, and Goochland counties as well as part of Henrico County.
Throneburg said he thinks the 5th District is best positioned to transition from Republican to Democrat, pointing to the bipartisan need for better health care, education and broadband access.
“I was raised in a Republican family and a Republican community, so I understand what Republicans think, even if I don’t agree with them,” he said. “I am an ordained minister and have spent my life pastoring the local church. If there’s anyone who can actually access space in these communities and get them to consider a Democrat as their potential representative, I think it’s me.
Parker agreed that finding common ground is crucial for Democrats in the 5th District and pointed some blame for the rhetoric that divides political discourse on social media.
“For all the good things that Google and Facebook have done, they’ve also created this belly where you have all this misinformation, a video of my daughter’s murder, illegal drugs, illegal gun sales – you call,” he said. “Your children and your families are exposed to this stuff and I think that’s what I’ve found that resonates with both sides of the aisle.”
Addressing the role of diversity, inclusion and equity in schooling, Throneburg said that at the federal level, representatives should work to ensure schools have the necessary resources and training.
“It won’t work for us as a country moving forward if we start telling only part of the story, restricting knowledge and information, and cutting children off from the reality of our history. “, did he declare. “We really need to talk about this history and learn more about the good things and the bad so we know what we need to do to create a more just and equitable future.”
Parker agreed with Throneburg, arguing that the outrage over the “critical race theory” that fueled the recent gubernatorial election was fabricated.
“Kids should learn the factual history, warts and all,” he said. “I think education policies should be set by experts, school administrators, teachers and parents, not politicians.”
Both candidates ended the forum by pledging to support the other candidate if they lost the nomination and urging voters to reject political apathy.
Parker and Throneburg will face off in the June 21 primary. A third Democrat, Warren McLellan, announced his candidacy in November but was not at the forum on Tuesday.
The winner will face the Republican nominee, either incumbent Rep. Bob Good or challenger Dan Moy. Republicans in the 5th District will select their nominee at a congressional convention in Farmville on May 21.