Candidates for Commonwealth's Attorney, Senate Districts Debate in Albemarle
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - A series of forums in Albemarle County on Wednesday put candidates for a few races in the hot seat.
The men vying for Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney and Virginia's 25th Senate District squared off on a host of topics at The Center. The two debates gave voters a chance to determine the talking points, which led to candidates speaking off the cuff on a wide range of topics.
Audience questions, especially concerning the possibility of modifying Virginia tax laws, kicked off the event. 25th Senate District candidate Elliot Harding praised the balanced budget, but said other forms of revenue are possible.
"The first place I would start is in the legalization of cannabis in Virginia," said the Independent Harding. "We spent $63 million last year arresting 29,000 people for a 20-year high of arrestees from illegal cannabis."
Harding's opponent, incumbent Democrat Creigh Deeds said while there was a windfall of tax returns this year, a downturn is likely and said it makes sense to consider cutting back on coal-related tax credits.
"Where I think we have the most room in terms of revenue or in terms of money is when we reconsider tax credits that have been granted," Deeds said. "More than $2 billion of tax credits are issued every year."
In the race for Albemarle Commonwealth's Attorney, incumbent Republican Robert Tracci and Democrat Jim Hingeley spoke on the role of their political labels. When asked about the link between upholding the law and social justice, Hingeley argued that there is no difference between upholding the law and justice.
"What the prosecutor needs to do is regard the law and all of the options that are in the law to promote justice in the community and the big thing that the prosecutor has is prosecutorial discretion," Hingeley said.
Tracci responded by saying the progressive prosecutor movement is just as inappropriate as the conservative prosecutor movement.
"It's important to recognize that any ideological label defining prosecutor undermines equal justice under the law and the idea that everyone should get a fair shake in court," Tracci said.
Tracci, who is running as a Republican, reiterated later that a prosecutor should not show partisanship. Hingeley pushed back, saying that values are what the election of Commonwealth's Attorney is all about.
Amy Laufer, who is running as a Democrat in the 17th Senate District, also attended the debate while her opponent Bryce Reeves did not. She commented that decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana could be a good step.