Ethics in politics under discussion

Virginia is striving to be more ethical. On September 29, the topic of ethics was discussed in Richmond at the first meeting of the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory.

NBC29 reported that the objective of the council was “to provide guidance on ethical dilemmas and possible conflicts of interest state lawmakers may come across.”

“We here in Virginia are just trying to set up a framework for public officials that they can easily follow, where they know the rules,” said 15th District Delegate C. Todd Gilbert (R).

The advisory council has good intentions in establishing ethical standards in Virginia politics, but there is much more progress to be made.

The panel consists of lawmakers of both parties and two former judges who will placed “in charge of the group in an effort to establish a degree of apolitical leadership and appear more neutral.”

“There’s a lot of moving parts. This is brand new,” said Chris Piper, the council’s executive director. “There’s a lot of things that we’re all trying to figure out.

The Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory plans to meet again before the year ends; however there is no scheduled meeting at this time.

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Senate Debate set for Virginia candidates

Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R) and Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (D) will participate in a 75-minute debate on October 5, hosted by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.

The debate will be held at the Ferguson Center Music and Theatre Hall on the university’s campus.

“All 140 seats in the General Assembly are up for election, but the real contest is over control of the Senate,” says Dr. Quentin Kidd, Director of the Wason Center and moderator for the debate.

With less than a month to November 3, the Senate election will be gaining momentum with this upcoming debate. Newport News reports that both candidates will “debate which party should control of the Virginia Senate.”

The elected Senate candidate will determine how much Governor Terry McAuliffe can accomplish during his remaining term. The Christopher Newport University reported that “a panel of opinion writers from around the state will pose questions during the debate.”

The debate will be aired at 6 p.m. and open to the public. Admission is free but a ticket is required. Tickets may be reserved at

Dr. Kidd can be reached at for more information about upcoming debate.

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Sanders making strides in Virginia

          On September 14, the Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke at Liberty University. To establish “common ground” with conservative Christian students, Sanders reflected upon Bible teachings.

“‘So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets,’” Sanders recited.

The New York Times reported that the Jewish presidential candidate is the first Democrat “so far to reach out to them in such a direct manner.”

Sanders politely acknowledged the crowd and its view on issues including abortion and gay marriage. Monday’s speech was to address the central issues of his campaign to Christians.

Issues including childhood poverty and increasing minimum wage were discussed in the context of following the golden rule: do to others what you would want others to do for you.

“It is not very complicated,” he added. “I want all of you, if you would, to put this in the context of the Bible.”

The Democratic candidate had “cultivated, intentionally or not, that his message aligns occasionally with the beliefs of those in religious communities,” according to The New York Times.

Sanders did not receive enthusiasm similar to that of his Republican opponent Senator Ted Cruz of Texas “when he announced his candidacy here in March;” however, the message’s intentions were recognized.

“We have the same goals, helping people in need, we just have different philosophies on how to get there,” said Jerry Falwell, Jr, the president of Liberty University.

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Another Round for Herring

In Richmond, the election season began to gain momentum in the State of Virginia as the Attorney General Mark Herring recently announced plans to run for re-election in 2017.

There has not been a Democrat re-election for Virginia AG since Mary Sue Terry won in 1989, according to CBS 6.

Lt. Governor Ralph Northman greeted on Herring’s re-election announcement with his full support.

“In just 20 months, Mark had changed the course of our history by fighting for marriage equality, Dreamers, the Chesapeake Bay, and a host of other important issues,” Northam expressed. “Virginia is stronger with Mark Herring as attorney general, and I am proud to stand with Mark and endorse him in his run for re-election.”

With both politicians running for available positions, it seems that the Democratic Party has secured itself in Virginia.

The Roanoke Times reported that Herring’s re-election for Attorney General woudl avoid a divisive fight with Lt. Governor Ralph Northam for the Democratic nomination for governor.

However, there is concern about whether Herring and Northam can guarantee domination for the Democrats in 2017.

“This is great news for Virginia Democrats. It’s a big plus for them, but the election will be determined by factors we can only guess at more than two years in advance,” said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

In June, The Roanoke Times reported that the Republicans decided at meeting in Staunton to hold a 2016 primary to not only pick their party’s presidential nominee, but “to pick the party’s 2017 nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.”

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