By ABIGAIL WEBER
Candidates for Virginia’s 28th District for the House of Delegates, Democrat Joshua Cole and Republican Paul Milde, debated at UMW on Sept. 18. Here are some highlights from the event:
Preventing Mass Shootings
Cole supports universal background checks and red flag laws.
“If you pose a threat to your community or to your family, there can be a family member of yours who can call and say ‘hey, I have an inkling and I think something may be on the verge,’” Cole said. “What that means is that the police department or even mental health [workers] can come in and just evaluate the situation and determine if you pose a threat, and if you pose a threat, they will confiscate [guns] for a period and make sure you’re good.”
Milde opposes this as unconstitutional and repeatedly referred to gun violence as a mental health problem.
“The problem is that [Cole] is talking about is taking away guns without due process, and I am very concerned that, of all of our enshrined protections in the Constitution, I don’t know why we would just choose that one and do away with due process.”
Milde cautioned against hasty, emotional action on gun control.
The audience included a group of women wearing red t-shirts for Moms Demand Action, a pro-gun-control organization. Milde addressed the tension in the room in his closing statement. “I was worried when I saw the red shirts,” Milde said. “Thank you for not attacking me.”
In response, one of the women said, “We’re not done yet.”
Health Care Affordability
Cole supports maintaining the Virginia Medicaid expansion of 2018.
“If we were to repeal the Medicaid expansion…over 300,000 citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia will immediately lose healthcare, 4,000 of which belong in Stafford County,” Cole said.
“This is the challenge of our time,” Milde said of the issue. “I do believe that healthcare accessibility and affordability is a basic right. But what I know doesn’t work is a one-size-fits-all program. The government takeover of healthcare has been ruining our healthcare for people who aren’t on it.”
The two candidates agreed on initiatives to cap prescription drug costs, including District 50 Delegate Lee Carter’s proposal to cap insulin costs at $30 a month.
Cole suggested adopting a similar plan to Tennessee to make college more affordable: use the state lottery to help students pay for community college.
“If you go to a community college in Virginia, you’re automatically guaranteed acceptance into a public university in Virginia.” He explained that if a student worked while attending community college, under this initiative they could then attend a well-regarded university with a scholarship and a safety net. “And then, we appreciate what Governor Ralph Northam did with the G3 Initiative, they have to spend one year feeding back into Virginia’s economy by going into the workforce.”
Milde argued that the Virginia lottery cannot pay for the plan.
“Politicians [promised] they were going to supplement K-12 education with the proceeds, and all they did was literally took that money, put it into the K-12, and then took that same amount of money and used it somewhere else.”
However, Milde does support freezing tuition for universities.