With less than a month to go until Election Day, campaign season has kicked into high gear.
Candidates for the General Assembly are now facing off in a series of debates and joint appearances.
The Senate race in the 21st Senate District pits the Democratic incumbent, Roanoke Senator John Edwards, against his Republican challenger, Christiansburg Delegate Dave Nutter. Wednesday afternoon, the campaign brought both to a meeting of the Roanoke Kiwanis Club.
Edwards touted his role in creating the Roanoke Higher Education Center, and the economic impact it has produced. Nutter highlighted his work as an economic development specialist at Virginia Tech and his advocacy for small business and Virginia tourism. Both were asked to comment on the state's history of shifting financial burdens onto local governments.
Nutter said the state must prioritize. "We can't do it all," he said, "and if anyone suggests otherwise they're fooling you, but we're going to have to make some tough choices like we did two years ago."
Edwards said the state needs "to step up to the plate." "What is happening is whenever the state gets into a bind in regard to financial matters it shifts responsibility," he said. "Education K-12 is underfunded. Medicaid is under funded. Public safety is under funded and I could go on and on and on."
The campaign in the 19th Senate District pits Republican Ralph Smith against the man he defeated for the GOP nomination four years ago. This year, Brandon Bell is running as an Independent, and Wednesday afternoon, he and Ralph Smith also came together at the Roanoke Kiwanis Club meeting.
Bell highlighted his role in pushing the statewide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.
Smith spoke of his effectiveness in the State Senate, with 10 of 14 bills he introduced last year winning approval.
"I'm looking to serve you in the 19th district as an Indpendent," Bell told the audience, "someone that is going to work for the district, that's not going to work for the tobacco company or any other lobbyist group roaming the halls in Richmond or a political party that says you have to vote my way."
Smith said he hopes to be part of a new Republican majority in the State Senate. "We are going to do more here in Virginia to push back on Obama and his many socialist programs he's pushing forward," Smith said.
Bill Cleaveland's decision not to run for re-election left an open seat in the 17th House District.
Wednesday, the candidates who hope to follow him in Richmond, also met at the miday event.
Democrat Freeda Cathcart is currently President of the Grandin Court neighborhood association.
Republican Chris Head is a Botetourt County businessman who operates Home Instead Senior Care in Roanoke and Lynchburg.
"And that's the type of energy I would like to take to Richmond," Cathcart said, "knowing what our community needs and how we can network with what we have to make a difference. That's the type of energy I brought when I worked to get midwives legal in Virginia."
"When I knock on doors and talk with the thousands of voters I've talked with, Head told the audience, "the number one concern is jobs creation, and we have to be able to create the environment to allow businesses to thrive and for the economy to be restimulated."