Candidates Debate for 25th House District Seat

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marrow-landesRepublican incumbent Steve Landes and Democrat contender Greg Marrow, vying to represent the 25th House of Delegates district, which includes Crozet, met for a 30-minute debate at Kate Collins Middle School in Waynesboro Sept. 24.

On the issue of transportation funding, Marrow, an optometrist from Harrisonburg, said “We never should have gotten to this point.” He said elected leaders are looking ahead to the next election rather than for solutions to problems.

“I’m with Creigh Deeds,” Marrow said. “Everything is on the table [as a revenue source]. Perhaps a gas tax isn’t it. But our tobacco tax is one of the lowest around. People have to be willing to talk about the ‘T’ word.”

Landes, the community relations coordinator for the DuPont Community Credit Union, who has held the seat for nearly 14 years, focused instead on the Virginia Department of Transportation. When the General Assembly was forced to cut its funding, he said, VDOT would not cut positions in the central bureaucracy, but cut workers in highway sheds across the state instead. “The legislature does not have confidence in VDOT and it needs to be audited. The public does not want a gas tax in a recession.”

On health care issues Marrow said he was “absolutely for a public option” in health insurance. “A handful of insurance companies rule the roost. A public option makes those companies honest. Health care should not be run by bean counters. The scare tactics are absolutely silly.”

Landes said he does not support a public option because his constituents say they oppose it. “They fear they will lose choices about care,” he explained. He said he might support a different version of a public option plan. “You can’t have competition when the government is the 800-pound gorilla in the room.” He said the General Assembly has tried to “work around the edges of health care reform” but it can’t do much without a federal resolution of the issues. Landes said the public does not want a single-payer system.

Marrow accused Landes of doing nothing aimed at helping the quality of life or jobs in the 25th district.

“I don’t introduce bills just to introduce bills,” Landes responded. He credited himself with environmental efforts to help the Valley and Piedmont. “Job growth is in small businesses and they support me because of my business record.” He challenged Marrow to say what he has done for his community.

Marrow said, “I’ve donated thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to the Valley,” especially for the needs of the blind, he added.

In his closing statement, Marrow said, “I promised I would never go negative in the campaign. I will continue to be positive. Where do we go? Alternative fuels? Or same old, same old? That’s what we’re getting. Where has Landes been on health care and alternative fuels? He’s done a heck of a lot more for the other districts in the state than for our own.”

Landes said, “My priorities are jobs and a sound economy. That’s what I’ve been working for. We have enough rules and laws on the books. We need to expand educational opportunity. I’m a fiscal conservative. It’s been my honor to serve. I’m not a show horse. I’m in the trenches trying to make state government work.”

About 80 people attended. The 25th House district includes Waynesboro, eastern Augusta and eastern Rockingham Counties as well as the Crozet, Brownsville and Yellow Mountain voting precincts in Albemarle. Western Albemarle voters represent about 15 percent of the district’s total.