Did debate deliver vision for jobs in Hampton Roads?October 14th, 2009 at 3:31 pm by Kay Young under Politics
Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell both used their latest debate Monday night, to tell Virginians they’ll be the best man for the job – of creating jobs.
I watched the debate in Norfolk with a handful of AARP members.
Before the event got started a 60 year old woman, Ann Florence made it very clear that she’s sick of bickering she sees in televised campaign ads. Florence told me,
“I can’t decide who I want to vote for because neither one of them sounds like something that will help with the situation – unemployment which I’m part of.”
Florence has been out of work for 18 months. She said she wanted to hear more about opportunities for her. After the debate I asked her if she heard what she needed to hear.
“No, not from either of them. They talked about other areas, but nothing for here in [Hampton Roads,]” Florence said.
What did the candidates say? I took a second listen to the debate, so you can decide.
In response to a question from a Lynchburg resident who wanted to know about high-tech jobs for central and southern (or Southside) Virginia similar to those in Northern Virginia:
DEEDS: “I said on the day I announced I was running for this office and I said again, the night I was nominated that I’m running for governor to create opportunity, prosperity, and hope in every part of Virginia… To take high-tech jobs to places the Danville, Lynchburg We’ve got to make sure the smartest workforce in the world. We need to invest in transportation and higher education. We’ve got to also make sure we put broadband internet in every part of the state.
MCDONNELL: “I visited Southside, the people are hurting there with double digit unemployment. We need more money from the tobacco commission to go into high tech areas. We need to promote things like the talapia farm in Southside the biodiesel production facility in Gretna…. Me or the Lt. Governor will be on ground every 30 days in Southside to make sure we are promoting high tech jobs that are necessary to help that region.”
In response to a question from a Richmond man about helping farmers in rural parts of Virginia
DEEDS: “I grew up on a farm. Bath County is one of the most rural areas of the state… At the state level we need to do a better job of marketing our products worldwide, so we can create a market for our larger producers to be able to sell their product worldwide, so we can make farming more profitable.”
MCDONNELL : “It’s critically important that we have an aggressive work by the Secretary of Agriculture to promote new Virginia markets all over the country and around the world for our great products… I’ve traveled around rural parts of state and outlined a detailed rural economic development plan to be able to help farmers.”
To be fair, none of the debate questions specifically talked about job creation or growth in Hampton Roads. However, I’ll point out that neither candidate volunteered a concrete solution for people like Ann Florence. The Virginia Employment Commission reports that 55,700 Virginians living in Hampton Roads are unemployed. Those hoping to make a decision for governor based on a ‘jobs plan’ for this region were seemingly left out in the debate.
Florence told me, “when I go for a job and there are 30 people looking for the same job, who’s getting to get it? Not me. I didn’t hear anything about that.”