The Democratic race for lieutenant governor is currently the most crowded statewide race in Virginia and all six candidates met on one debate stage Tuesday night in an effort to set themselves apart.
Standing out in the crowd has not been easy for Democratic hopefuls thus far, with 64% of respondents in a recent Christopher Newport University survey still undecided.
One question that drew a lot of attention and impassioned responses during Tuesday’s debate, hosted by WJLA, was whether Virginia should mandate body cameras for all law enforcement across the state.
Business owner Xavier Warren said he thought that would be the right thing to do.
“Many mothers are grieving out there who have lost their sons and daughters at the hands of police,” Warren said. “We see this, and we need to fix it.”
Del. Hala Ayala agreed.
“I’m a mother of two Black children, and every day I fear when they walk out of my home,” said Ayala.
Former Fairfax County NAACP chairman Sean Perryman took a different approach.
“More important than that is actual accountability for police officers,” Perryman said, promising that he would fight to change the so-called qualified immunity protections for law enforcement so individual officers could be sued over their actions.
Del. Sam Rasoul said the state should put limits on campaign finance donations.
Virginia has one of the least restrictive campaign finance systems in the country, with lawmakers only barred from using campaign funds for personal use once they close out their accounts.
“When we think about what good government looks like, it’s campaign finance reform and limiting the impact on special interests,” Rasoul said.
On the issue of gun control, which was Del. Mark Levine’s main focus, Levine said Virginia needed more limits on who is allowed to purchase firearms, including stricter prohibitions for people with a background of domestic violence.
“Virginians are nervous because it’s too easy for dangerous people to get guns,” Levine said.
Norfolk City Council member Andria McClellan said she would prioritize expanding broadband access across the state, noting that the coronavirus pandemic made the technology essential for people who needed to attend work and school.
“Ensuring that all of Virginia has access to affordable, high speed internet would be my number one issue,” McClellan said.
The six Democrats will compete with each other in a primary election on June 8. The winner will go on to face GOP candidate Winsome Sears.