Anticipation buzzed as the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce hosted the State Senate 7th District Debate at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. The 7th District race in one of the most closely watched in Virginia and has garnered national interest as well. Senator Frank Wagner and challenger Gary McCollum went toe to toe as they rallied back and forth with questions from the event moderator, Dr. Bob Holsworth. They addressed issues including early education, transportation, environmental issues and much more.
Even with the possibility of a hurricane approaching, more than 130 came to watch the debate between these two challengers.
“I thought it was very well done, the questions were right on point as to what we needed to hear, the issues were covered from Medicaid to transportation, so I thought it was very well balanced”, was Steve Romine of LeClairRyan Consulting’s opinion of the event.
Senator Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach has served in his position as Virginia’s State Senator for 24 years. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, served his country in the United States Navy and is the former President of Davis Boat Works, Inc. During his remarks, he said that, “It’s not government that creates jobs, it’s the people sitting at this table today”. He emphasized that he wants to create win-win scenarios to help the economy and do more for education.
Gary McCollum, is no stranger to the business community, he most recently served as the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cox Communications Virginia. He graduated from James Madison University and served his country for eight years in the United States Military and was a U.S. Army Ranger. “I’m a business leader, a husband, father, a community leader, I’m a former Army Ranger and even though I’ve been very successful in business and in the military, my life did not start off that way”. His debate themes focused on McCollum being a leader rather than a politician and that it was time for new leadership.
Those in attendance were enlightened on the candidate’s point of views and areas of interest.
Thom Prevette, Director of Advocacy and Community Affairs for Bon Secours Virginia Health System commented, “I think they addressed the important issues and that the moderator did a great job of keeping them on task.” He continued, “I appreciate the ability to listen to other opinions and policy statements and the communication to not be so negative.”
The debate ended in respectful acknowledgment and handshakes from both opponents and brief congratulations from the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Bryan Stephens.
The Chamber wishes to thank Bon Secours Virginia Health System and Sinclair Media for their sponsorship of this event.