Candidates for the House of Delegates representing the Braddock District and candidates for Fairfax County Sheriff debated voting rights, civil service agreements, background checks, and other topics at a candidates’ forum Monday night at Kings Park Library in Burke.
Each of the candidates answered questions from a room of about 50 people. Many of the questions during the 90-minute forum, which was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area, were directed to the four candidates for sheriff: Stacey Ann Kincaid (D), Bryan A. "B.A." Wolfe (R), and independents Christopher DeCarlo and Robert A. Rivera.
Some of the sheriff candidates spoke candidly about their views regarding alleged corruption with the department and whether they supported civil service protection for current employees.
“Bad people infect the department. Good people don’t want to work for those kinds of people... there’s misconduct and then there’s criminal conduct and that’s what I’m talking about,” said Wolfe about the alleged corruption.
Watch each of the candidates for sheriff explain their view on civil service agreements in the videos above.
While each candidates ultimately said they would support increasing diversity in the Sheriff’s office, their answers differed slightly. Wolfe said he’d support an outside assessment to help increase diversity in the office while Rivera, who identifies as Hispanic, said he’d make sure “oxygen thieves,” or people who remained in the office “past their expiration date” were removed so that the office could move forward.
Watch each of the candidates for sheriff discuss diversity in the videos above.
DeCarlo, who is running for sheriff and as an independent candidate for the 41st District, said his 30-year experience as a small business owner has taught him to “evaluate who you can trust.”
House of Delegates Candidates Get Passionate About Voting
About halfway through the forum, the candidates running for a seat in the House of Delegates became visibly passionate when answering questions about their views on voting rights.
David Bulova (D), who currently represents the 37th District, said he saw nothing wrong with the current voting requirements in Virginia.
”It’s a problem that doesn’t exist. If there was a real problem with people committing voter fraud, I’d be the first person out there to make sure we protected the integrity of the vote,” said Bulova.
Patrice Winter (R), who’s running against Bulova, said she supports requiring everyone to have an identification card in order to vote. “As an adult, almost everything we do, they ask for photo ID. Voting shouldn’t be any different,” said Winter.
“I think it’s all about increasing opportunities to enable people to vote. We need to find ways to increase the number of people who vote,” said Eileen Filler-Corn (D), who represents the 41st District. Republican challenger Fredy Burgos was not present for the forum, but DeCarlo said he doesn't believe voting rights have been an issue in Virginia.
Ed R. Deitsch (D), who’s challenging incumbent Dave Albo (R) in the 42nd District, said residents have a constitutional right to vote, but are not required by the constitution to a photo ID to vote. Albo was not present for the forum due to familial obligations.
Vivian Watts (D), who represents the 39th District and is currently running unopposed said requiring photo ID a “discriminatory practice.”
“That concept of protecting the minority is something that’s very much a part of this discussion on voting. It’s not whether most people can; it’s whether or not we’re disenfranchising individuals,” said Watts.
House of Delegates Candidates Talk Second Amendment, Background Checks
When asked if they support gun rights, many of the candidates for the House of Delegates spoke in favor of background checks.
“We have a lot of people who are getting weapons and they’re getting them in Virginia. I should not be able to walk into a gun store and have to go through a background check, but then walk into a fair where they have tables [of guns] and just bring in a shopping cart and load them all in,” said Deitsch. “We have to start enforcing background checks. We have to start doing more research into the mental health problems of some of these people and we have to make that information a little more available so we can make it a little safer for the public."
DeCarlo said he’s in favor of background checks and Filler-Corn stated she was as well.
“I respect the second amendment. I respect the culture of Virginia with regard to hunting, but I think it’s time we had reasonable gun laws,” said Filler-Corn. “In light of all the tragedies we’ve had lately, I think things need to be done… We need to not politicize this and just focus on human life. We’ve seen time and time again what happens here in Virginia and in Washington, DC. It’s time for change.”
“I’m concerned about how someone’s behavior is seen as normal or their mental health is deemed okay compared to someone else... These are not easy answers to weigh: the public safety issues, the personal issues, due process issues all matter, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to have a complete and full dialogue,” said Watts.
Winter said she supports background checks, but she'd encourage looking deeper into mental health issues. Bulova echoed her comments.
“We’re not trying to prevent someone from exercising their rights. We’re trying to prevent gun violence and make sure that those who shouldn’t have guns don’t get them,” said Bulova. “But we also need to look at our mental health services. We have a lot more to do and we need to focus on that so we don’t have the tragedies that we see popping up here anymore.”