September 13, 2005
With elections just two months away, the race for governor is in full swing. Candidates for Governor Tim Kaine and Jerry Kilgore took center stage on Tuesday. The pair squared off during an hour-long debate in Fairfax County.
The debate covered both candidates stance on a range of issues from raising taxes to abortion. But the issue that seemed to dominate the hour was no doubt Virginia's traffic congestion, particularly in northern Virginia.
During the debate, Republican Gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore repeatedly stressed what he believes is Virginia's number one issue, transportation. To ease congestion he proposed widening Interstate-66 inside the beltway and adding another crossing over the Potomac River.
"I'll make sure that we spend surplus dollars from the state budget on transportation priorities," said Kilgore. "I'll make sure that we make transportation part of the regular budget process [in] Richmond."
Democrat Tim Kaine suggested giving mass transit programs the same amount of money as road projects and rebutted Kilgore's plans to widen I-66 inside the beltway. He cited a more practical approach.
"We can't automatically expand that two lane bridge over into the district but as we go westbound out of the district we can expand within the existing right away and we've got a plan in place right now to begin doing that," responded Kaine.
If faced with a disaster like Hurricane Katrina, both candidates were asked if they would raise taxes. Kilgore said he would rely more on federal assistance while Kaine admitted to considering it.
"I won't take a no-tax pledge or a tax only-by-referendum pledge when it means ignoring the needs of people in Virginia if they face an emergency," said Kaine.
On the abortion issue, Kaine says he would move to reduce abortion through better education and access to contraceptives. Kilgore says he condones it only in the event of rape or incest. But gave no direct answer on whether he would vote to outlaw it altogether if given the opportunity. In the end, it seems the only issue both men agreed on is to crack-down on illegal immigration.
During a press conference Tuesday, Independent Russ Potts proposed spending an extra $2 billion on transportation costs. Some of that money would likely come from an increase in sales taxes.
With the race only two months away, a recent Washington Post Poll shows Kilgore leading with 45% of the votes, Kaine had 41%, and Potts with 5%.