October 25, 2010
One week from Tuesday, many University of Virginia students will head to the polls to vote in the 5th District Congressional race.
"It's kind of hard to pick a side when there are so many different viewpoints being thrown at you," student Manas Nigam said.
Democratic incumbent Rep. Tom Perriello and independent candidate Jeff Clark faced off on the issues that matter most to students in a town hall-style debate on grounds Monday night. Both candidates shared their messages geared toward the young voters.
"We need this new generation to be fully engaged, not for one term, but over time, and I think people are feeling that now," Perriello said.
The debate was toward the end of a long day for Perriello, who began his 24 Hours of Tom campaign blitz at midnight Monday. He traveled throughout the 5th District meeting voters throughout the day. As he seeks to keep Democrats in charge of the house, independent Clark has this message for students.
"A party, any party, is going to be suspect to the same corruption, the same influences and the same tactics that they see the other parties employing around them," Clark said.
Notably absent from the debate was state Sen. Robert Hurt, who refuses to debate with Clark. Hurt has said in the past he doesn't consider Clark a viable candidate. Hurt was invited to the debate but said he could not attend.
"It's not fair not to have all three opponents at the same time for everyone who wants to see them debate," Nigam said.
The debate is organized by students and for students. At UVa., the midterm election is nowhere near the popularity of the 2008 presidential election. The organizers said they hope this debate changes that mentality.
"There's not as much attention surrounding this election, so we really want to make sure that students are getting involved and getting passionate about these issues," said Kristin Twifold, one of the debate organizers.
Perriello's day didn't end after the debate. At 10 p.m., he went to Wild Wing Cafe in Charlottesville to watch Monday Night Football with sports fans.