Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Debate for the 68th

With election day a mere seven days away, candidates for the House of Delegates for the 68th District squared off last night at St. Bridgets Catholic Church ( a beautiful church by the way) located just in the City near where the first American the trolley car years ago used to come to its final stage before turning near the Country Club of Virginia. If you are ever driving in the Fan this Fall simply take a look at the rooftops and you will know whether you are driving on streets that used to be served by the old trolley line of Richmond. The rooftops had to be made in such a way to not catch fire from sparks from the passing trolley, thus much of what you will see are slanting metal rooftops towards the street below.

That said, the debate between incumbant Katherine Waddell (I), Manoli Loupassi (R) and William Grogan (I) drew what appeared to be about 100 people or so including those from the media and the campaigns. Not exactly a glowing turnout of interest. With so many hotly contested seats in both the House of Delegates and Senate of the Virginia General Assembly, this race for the 68th as largely been ignored by most media concerns. There just have not been too many fireworks or campaign blunders like that of a campaign up in NVA mailing outthe wrong flier stating last Sunday was election day (oopps). Nonetheless, the seat is an important one. If you believe the pundits the Democrats look to secure gains in the Assembly. They point to the fact that incumbant Republican leaders are engaged in closer than expected races. This is why so much of what has transpired has been far from inspirational and down right negative this cycle.
One of the biggest issues of the debate involved fundraising. Both the Loupassi and Waddell campaigns have taken to television to get its message out. My only question is why would not a single one of these place the debate info on the screen and invite people to meet them and join the process. That baffles me.

Loupassi has spent considerable funds on his campaign even before this contest by spending significant amounts to win the Party nomination by firehouse primary last Spring. Loupassi tax cap has gotten some scrutiny given the fact that as a City Councilman, as Waddell latest mailer screams, managed to vote against reviewing the rising tax assesment issues of the City.That begs the question why it everything in the city seems to cost more with less return and little on his watch was accomplished with regard to the budget with the exception of the greater success ( or return on investment) of the City Police and their efforts to address rising crime. Why is it that the tax rates in the City are the highest in the area? Are they educating more children? Are the services they provide more costly or is it that the government is much too large. Should not the return on the investment in education by the City been greater given the fact they have more schools, less children and smaller class sizes?

Only recently has many of the Audits conducted externally begun to draw conclusions about how the City has been run and inefficiency seems to be the biggest problem that Waddell can easily tie to Loupassi. The issues current to the City may not be due to Loupassi but right now the City has the lowest Mayor approval rating in recent years and the Council's is even lower. That does not help Loupassi's cause. He is easily linked to the City's woes and did not prepare last night to offer up much in the way of distancing himself from that.

Both of the front runners in this race took some shots at the ever rising tide of illegal immigration. The trick down effect of politics at the national level to state level is amazing to watch but from different perspectives. Most Virginians are not too cocnerned with the border fence, but what they are concerned with is why it seems the State is subsizing the education of "illegals". Current legislation in the GA is pointed towards ending the ability for illegals to attend Virginia colleges and universities as declared residents for the purposes of in-state tuition. Personally, I have yet seen and arguement to allow this practice that stand up. Unless someone is here in this country legally and has resided in Virginia for the same requirements as citizens who move here from another state or are refugess from a Federally specified nation state for political reasons if they attend a Virginia college they should be forced to pay out of state tuition. Loupassi implied that Waddell supported the rights of illegals over the native children of Virginia in terms of educational opportunities and Loupassi began his moves to link Waddell to Gov. Tim Kaine who has endorsed her.

The Governor has been under fire with the immigration debate that has taken root within these elections adn has taken up the position that the State is doing more than citizens realize in this area already with reagard to State Police actions and notification to ICE. What I would like to see is the Governor pledge to reimburse localities for the training of its police forces in cooperation training with Federal authorities to bridge the gap between Federal pitfalls at the local level. Who do these illegals impact more, the Federal government, State Government, or the local Government? Increasingly, it is the latter.

Katherine Waddell continually points to her ability to work with both sides in a bispartisan manner. Her ability to get bipartisan legislation through the House is a strength she points to for the entire district and she places focus on the child safety, filling the gaps of Amber Alert policy, and the road improvements for Huguenot Bridge being pushed through and funded. Loupassi is challenging Waddell's positions on immigration, education reform, and the tax assessment measure he endorses by placing a cap of a maximum 5% increases per assessment that localities can place on properties of homeowners as a manner of law.

The fight over more Transportation funding is on most of the minds of the voters in Chesterfield and I am not convinced that outside of Waddell's bridge project if either feel as though there is much that they can do in this area given the demands of NVA and Va Beach in terms of the total State budget.

This race is very important however to State Republicans. This seat is one that they feel is in play and they hope that if they can pick up this seat it may lesson the ramifications of potentially losing another seat by an incumbant in NVA , Va Beach or potentially out in Roanoke where the races are getting close. It may have been a mistake in this cycle not for the Democrats to have placed a candidate on the ballot, but Manoli Loupassi contentions remains that Waddell though a former Republican is being endorsed by the Democrats like Governor Kaine and that should demonstrate enough as to where she will continue to place her allegiance.

Waddell contends she places that allegiance to the district and not to any Party.

If the turnout is lower than expected I think that will favor Loupassi as he has an effort on his behalf building in the Chesterfield portions of the district. Much of the success of that may be pegged to that of Supervisor Donald Sowder(R) and his bid for re-election. If the areas of Chesterfield in the 68th go Independent in the Supevisor race that may certainly help Katherine Waddell and add to what percentage of the City vote she earns. Grogan appears to be destined to come in third in this race, not in large part to ideas or his ability to communicate his philosophy but due to financing. People just do not know him enough yet, but his participation in the election is refreshing nonetheless.


Anonymous said...

And the phone bank wars begin. Manoli Loupassi strikes with phone message to voters calling Katherine Waddell out for going negative.
We are in for a heated five days.

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, Jack Wilson sent out three mailers and four phone messages leading up to the Bermuda Republican Primary and his opponent sent out one hand addressed letter to each registered voter. Guess who knocked on more doors?

bonairtaxpayer said...

Loupassi has some nerve. I got the first negative piece from Waddell this weekend. Loupassi had been on tv with a negative ad at least a week before that and filling my millbox for days with attacks on Waddell.

But hey, what else do you expect from a guy who once wrote an editorial in the Richmond Times Dispatch that began "I've never had an original thought in my life"...