VCU’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists hosted a mock governor’s debate to increase student awareness about the candidates and issues in the upcoming election on Monday, Oct. 7.
Senior political science major Martha Crosby represented Ken Cuccinelli and the College Republicans, and senior political science major Matt Rogers represented Terry McAuliffe and the Young Democrats, and Tyler Lloyd represented Robert Sarvis and Young Americans for Liberty.
“We thought the governor’s debate was of utmost importance because the governor has direct rule over the state, thus we thought it was important to showcase these candidates to give them a voice in the college setting,” said Amber Coles, vice president of SPJ. “We really just want to encourage people to go out and vote.”
The debate began with questions pertaining to healthcare, public schools beginning before labor day, veterans affairs, gas overhaul, expansion of Medicaid, marijuana, improving the state economy, and job prospects for college students.
While candidates took turns answering these questions, audience members were prompted to submit their own questions for the candidates via twitter by using the hashtag #spjvagov.
“I’m a political nerd; this is my life,” Rogers said. “I’m really excited for the opportunity to talk to people, because people are typically pretty icky about getting into politics, so I can’t explain how appreciative I am that SPJ put this on for us.”
After a short intermission that included refreshments, and the chance for audience members to talk to the different candidate representatives and SPJ members, the town hall portion of the debate took place. These questions were taken from the audience and included issues such as LGBT equality, minimum wage, immigration and other issues that pointed questions directly at the representatives.
“I’m the youth co-regional chair for youth for Ken, so I knew a lot of these facts already, and I have a lot of friends who work for him as well so I just double-checked with them to make sure I had the right information,” Crosby said. “I think the event overall is pretty good, but I wish the SPJ had maybe gave us a heads-up on certain questions.”
Although the original representative who was to represent libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis did not show up, ten minutes prior to the start of the program Tyler Lloyd volunteered to take his place.
“Guerrilla politics. That’s all I have to say,” Lloyd said, in regard to his tactics in approaching the questions and candidates in the debate. “We need a libertarian perspective in this debate. I think it’s real healthy that [they’re] doing this for the students, and that they’re also including third party candidates.”
The program concluded with the reminder to students to vote in the quickly approaching election, and the opportunity to register was also available for students who had not yet registered.
#spjvagov What do you have to say regarding the bitter nature of the campaign or dissatisfaction over candidates so far?
— Sean CW Korsgaard (@SCWKorsgaard) October 7, 2013
What are the candidates platform on K-12 education? #spjvagov
— Sam Wojcicki (@SWojcicki) October 7, 2013
— VCU votes! (@VCUvotes) October 7, 2013
— Nick Artrip (@NickArtrip102) October 7, 2013