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Candidates should join 'people's debate'


Date published: 7/30/2014

Candidates should join 'people's debate'

We agree wholeheartedly with your July 23 editorial ["Debate more"] encouraging Sen. Mark Warner and challenger Ed Gillespie to face off in venues more accessible to Virginia voters.

AARP Virginia and the League of Women Voters of Virginia have a proud history of sponsoring the People's Debate, traditionally held at the studio of WCVE-TV, the Richmond-based public television station.

Through WCVE and CBS affiliate WTVR-TV, voters statewide have the opportunity to watch the debate live on their local television station or via Web streaming.

The People's Debate, traditionally held on Columbus Day in election years, should be a must-do campaign event for statewide candidates.

Sen. Tim Kaine debated former Sen. George Allen in 2012 in front of more than 200,000 voters across the commonwealth. It was carried live in every television market in Virginia as well as C-SPAN. It also was streamed live on the CNN and Washington Post websites and the websites of numerous Virginia-based news organizations.

While many of the debates are sponsored by business organizations, the People's Debate is the only forum representing the issues of concern to average citizens that is broadcast free and live statewide.

Both AARP and the League of Women Voters have a long history of providing non-partisan education to Virginia voters. Neither group endorses candidates, makes campaign contributions or operates a political action committee.

Our groups' debates are known for being fair to the candidates and addressing a range of issues of interest to Virginia voters.

We are hopeful that the candidates will agree to participate in the People's Debate this year, giving all Virginia voters the opportunity to have a front-row seat as the candidates discuss the issues that are important to Virginians and their families.

Anne Sterling

Richmond

Anne Sterling is president, League of Women Voters of Virginia.

Bill Kallio

Richmond

Bill Kallio is state director, AARP Virginia.