February 1, 2006
It may only be February, but for politicians the 2006 election is just around the corner. The Democratic race for Virginia's 5th Congressional District is underway and tonight candidates got the opportunity to talk directly with voters.
The town-hall style meeting was the second of several planned by Democracy for America. Both Democrats, Al Weed and Bern Ewert, are hoping to have their names on the ballot this November. Each says he brings his own set of strengths to the table.
"I've run in this district before, as you know," said candidate Al Weed. "And I have a campaign organization already in place, we are organizing in the field. I know the people in this district."
"I have a long record of accomplishment in local government. I have a record of creating jobs, integrating city governments. I was deputy city manager here and proposed the downtown mall," said candidate Bern Ewert.
The candidates have very different backgrounds. Ewert has public policy and city management experience, while Weed's background is in agriculture and the military.
In a district the size of New Jersey, both say there are a number of challenges. For example, the southern part of the state sees much higher unemployment.
"The northern end with the university, we all know what it's like up here...It's less than 3 percent unemployment, it's a very strong economy, diversified economy, and expensive place to live," said Ewert.
"When I go down there and say Albemarle County is seeking to limit growth so that they don't get more people, they think I'm talking Chinese to them," said Weed.
Weed also says these kinds of events are important for voters.
"Its a good way for people to ask questions and find out how a candidate or prospective candidate thinks," he added.
Both Ewert and Weed have until a mid-May primary or a nominating convention to convince Democrats that they are the right candidate for the party. The candidate that wins will go up against Republican representative Virgil Goode in November.
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