Harrisonburg City Council candidates to participate in Oct. 21 forum

Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 11:12 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Harrisonburg’s five city council candidates will talk about issues in the Friendly City on Oct. 21.

The forum will feature Democrats Mayor Deanna Reed, Laura Dent, and Charles Hendricks, as well as Independent George Hirschmann and Republican Kathleen Kelley.

The forum will be live-streamed for viewers at home, but as of now, organizers are unsure if candidates will be meeting in a socially distanced fashion, or meeting over a video call.

The forum will be hosted by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Association of Realtors, Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition and the United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.

The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Association of Realtors and Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition have collaborated for political forums in the past, but local United Way Executive Director Laura Toni-Holsinger said this is the non-profits first time.

“The three pillars of the United Way have always been give, advocate, volunteer," Toni-Holsinger said. "We have just worked really hard lately to lean into the advocacy part and so helping people be informed about who candidates are in one of the localities that we serve, we think is really important.”

Toni-Holsinger said a major topic of the forum will be around Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed (ALICE) individuals, affordable housing and transportation.

“We look forward to making that a forefront issue for all the candidates and getting to know their understanding of what the issues are in the community and how they can address them if elected,” Toni-Holsinger said.

The forum will be moderated by Dr. Lori L. Britt, who is a James Madison University professor, as well as the director of the Institute for Constructive Advocacy and Dialogue at the university.

“Lori Britt has moderator for years prior. She is really great at [moderating] professionally,” Toni-Holsinger said. “She also lives in [Rockingham County] and so she doesn’t have any personal bias here and can’t vote for any of these candidates.”

Toni-Holsinger said people can register ahead of time to virtually attend and also submit their own questions for the candidates before the forum.

Copyright 2020 WHSV. All rights reserved.

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