We, the University of Mary Washington Young Democrats, are frustrated by the refusal of Delegate Bill Howell (R) and State Senator Bryce Reeves (R) to participate in debates hosted by our university. UMW has hosted well-attended debates when these seats were contested in years past. Kandy Hilliard (D) and Ned Gallaway (D) (the opponents of Howell and Reeves, respectively) were both willing to participate in the debates this year. Unfortunately, Howell and Reeves say they are unable to attend.
As voters, we feel ignored by incumbents who are unwilling to give their challengers sufficient platforms to voice their opposition. In 2011, then-incumbent Edd Houck participated in a debate at UMW against Bryce Reeves. We were hoping Reeves would extend the same courtesy to Gallaway this year. Howell ran unopposed for the past several elections so we were hoping he would take this opportunity to defend some of the controversial conservative legislation that has passed during his time in office. As local representatives, these men should be concerned with making themselves accessible to the public. Instead, they are declining to make time for events that reach out to young voters like us.
Howell told the Free-Lance Star that he would have considered going to the UMW debate if he had been contacted about it sooner. He reportedly said, “I only have so much time.” But the difference between Howell and his opponent is not a question of time. It is a question of priority. All of the candidates in these races have the same number of weeks until Election Day. The distinction is that both Howell and Reeves are unwilling to participate in events that engage the young people they are supposedly representing.
on behalf of the UMW Young Democrats