Oct 132021
 

From left to right: Bob Beard (Moderator), Matt Fariss, Philip Andrew Hamilton, Sally Hudson, Benjamine Moses, Louis V. Scicli

Incumbent Sally L. Hudson (D) and challenger Philip Andrew Hamilton (R) are seeking election to the 57th House District. Incumbent Matt Fariss (R) and challengers Benjamine A. Moses (D) and Louis V. Scicli (I), are seeking election to the 59th House District. All five candidates spoke at this Senior Statesmen of Virginia Candidates Forum. Topics include: improved broadband access for Virginia, more money for education and health care workers and COVID vaccination mandates.

The candidates spoke at the Wednesday October 13, 2021 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held at The Center in Charlottesville and simulcast on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was introduced by SSV President Jeff Gould and moderated by SSV member and former news anchor for CBS19 Bob Beard .

Aug 112021
 

Jennifer Kitchen (left), Sara Ratcliffe, and Bob Beard

State legislature Democratic Challengers Jennifer Kitchen (D-25th) and Sara Ratcliffe (D-58th) spoke at the monthly meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. Incumbents Chris Runion (R-25th) and Rob Bell (R-58th) declined to attend. Topics include: The under representation of Virginia’s rural areas and the importance of installing broadband internet connectivity across the commonwealth. Also, repealing the right to work law.

The candidates spoke at the Wednesday August 11, 2021 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held at The Center in Charlottesville and simulcast on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was introduced by SSV President Jeff Gould and moderated by SSV member and former news anchor for CBS19 Bob Beard.

Jun 092021
 

Top row Jeff Gould (left) and Norman Dill. Bottom row Evan Feinman.

Evan Feinman, Governor Northam’s Chief Broadband Internet Advisor, joins the Senior Statesmen of Virginia to talk about broadband and internet access in Virginia. In 2018 Governor Northam set a 10-year goal to reach universal broadband coverage to all Virginians for social and economic reasons.

The Broadband Committee recommends policy changes to promote broadband development and created the Commonwealth Connect Coalition, a group of 125 organizations which is fully committed to the concept and funding for universal broadband coverage.

Mr. Feinman spoke at the Wednesday June 9, 2021 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was introduced by SSV President Jeff Gould and moderated by SSV board member Norman Dill.

May 122021
 

Senator Creigh Deeds (top left), Delegate Chris Runion, Sue Friedman (moderator), Delegate Rob Bell (bottom left), Delegate Sally Hudson. Not pictured: Matt Fariss

The Senior Statesmen of Virginia presented their annual recap of the recently concluded session of the Virginia State General Assembly with reports from local legislators Senator Creigh Deeds and Delegates Rob Bell, Matt Fariss, Sally Hudson and Chris Runion. Topics included: Criminal justice reform, broadband access, the pros and cons of Zoom including changing role of lobbyists, the death penalty, redistricting, and passenger rail.

The legislators spoke at the Wednesday May 12, 2021 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV Vice President Sue Friedman.

Apr 142021
 

Rebecca Kendall (left), Lisa Beitz and Jeff Gould speaking via Zoom.

Lisa Beitz and Rebecca Kendall spoke at the April 14th meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia about behavioral health treatment services in the time of COVID.

Rebecca Kendall is the director of the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition which collaborates with providers through planning, advocacy and delivery of effective services to promote behavioral health and wellness. She shared that all their services have been affected by COVID. Problems include effects of social isolation, food insecurity, unemployment and school closings. Some of the consequences have been increased alcohol consumption, increases in requests for services and overdoses seen in ERs. On the positive side the increase in Zoom telehealth services, where available, has been very fruitful. Two new services have been developed: Warmline, to help people who are stressed and to connect them to local care and a free service for essential workers.

Lisa Beitz is the executive director of the Region Ten Community Services Board which is required by law to be available 24/7 to assess people for involuntary hospitalization and case management assessment for individuals with developmental disabilities and mental health disorders as funds allow. Region Ten serves the City of Charlottesville and the Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene and Nelson, and is involved in over 40 programs and has more than 550 staff. Local trends exacerbated by COVID include lack of psychiatric hospital beds and closing of resources that keep individuals safe in the community leading to more hospitalizations.

The two spoke at the Wednesday April 14, 2021 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV President Jeff Gould.

Mar 102021
 

Alyson Ball speaking via Zoom.

Alyson Ball spoke at the March 2021 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia about the basics of United States Immigration policy. Ms. Ball began with a brief history of US immigration from a time when all immigrants were accepted and it was easy to become a citizen, to the 14th amendment following the Civil War where being born “on soil” eventually leading, to citizenship to the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act.

According to Ball, there are currently about one million individuals seeking a pathway to United States citizenship. Of that group, three-fourths are family based, 140,000 are employment based and 130,000 are humanitarian. Other topics covered include: Detention centers and the Biden government’s recent role in reversing some of former President Trump’s immigration policies.

Ms. Ball spoke at the Wednesday March 10, 2021 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV board member Peyton Williams.

Feb 102021
 

K. Craig Kent

K. Craig Kent, M.D., Executive Vice President for Health Affairs at the University of Virginia, talks about UVA Health and challenges during COVID and the future. UVA Health has four sections: the medical school, nursing school, physician organization and hospitals including three hospitals in Northern Virginia. It employs 14,000 people with a yearly revenue of $3 billion. One goal of the organization is to transition from single doctor care to care provided by a whole team. This new philosophy will be the focus of a new strategic plan being developed in the summer of 2021. COVID information and questions from the audience filled the remainder of the meeting. UVA early on developed a COVID test with a six-hour turnaround time to diagnose the disease. They built 84 negative pressure rooms to provide care for very ill COVID patients to decrease mortality.

Concerning the administration of the vaccine, Dr. Kent said that the Virginia Department of Health controls the supply distribution. Currently UVA has a location at the former Big Lots and has a capacity to deliver 3,000 shots per day. The supply has been 3,500 shots per week. Dr. Kent stressed that the recommendations for COVID and supply of vaccine are moving targets and change as more information becomes available. For those who have had the vaccine, the current plan is to “stay the course” with masking, social distancing and personal hygiene.

Dr Kent spoke at the Wednesday February 10, 2021 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV Past President Rich DeMong.

Jan 132021
 

James Hingeley (left) and Joe Platania speaking via Zoom.

Speaking at the January 2021 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia, Commonwealth’s Attorneys from Albemarle and Charlottesville, James Hingeley and Joe Platania discussed the recent changes in law as passed by the 2020 General Assembly and some of the proposals being put forward for the upcoming Session.

The men agreed that their backgrounds led them to better understand why crimes were committed and addressing those challenges would reduce criminal behavior. They see their roles as prosecutors as balancing the safety of the community with the rights of the defendants. They are both known as “progressive prosecutors” and hope that their philosophy will lead to criminal justice reform.

Hingeley and Platania reviewed new laws passed in the 2020 General Assembly including the banning of police from executing unannounced warrants, using choke holds, or conducting searches based on the smell of pot. Other new laws include empowering localities to form police civilian review boards with the power to subpoena and impose punishments. Juries will decide guilt or innocence, but no longer be imposing sentences. Judges will assume sentencing as they can have more knowledge and a better understanding of the law. Also, in certain categories, prisoners can earn good time credit and reduce their sentences.

In response to questions about the effect of the pandemic, both men agreed that trying to reduce jail population has been a goal. A collaborative group including attorneys, jail personnel, judges, OAR, and clerks as well as program services providers are working together to find alternatives to serving jail time. Other topics included: Prosecuting pot infractions, judges deciding sentences rather than mandatory sentencing for convictions.

The two spoke at the Wednesday January 13, 2021 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV President Jeff Gould.

Dec 092020
 

Thomas Frampton (top left), Chief Ron Lantz (top right) and Chief RaShall Brackney speaking at the December 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia.

 
Charlottesville Police Chief Dr. RaShall Brackney and Albemarle Police Chief Ron Lantz explore current policing issues in this podcast from the Senior Statesmen of Virginia.

Lantz explained that since 2012 the county has been divided into two geographic based districts with each staffed by its own officers in order for the community and officers to get to know each other better. As a result, there has been a 30 percent decrease in crime and police response times, and there is increased trust between the police and community. Brackney emphasized relationship building with citizens in order to determine what they want, need and deserve.

The effect of COVID-19 on police policy has both departments relying more on phone or online reporting from citizens which has been beneficial in some instances and may be used more in the future. There has been a decrease in violent crimes and traffic stops. On the other hand, there have been concerns about increases in domestic violence, homicides and suicides as well as an illicit underground economy with so many unemployed.

The two spoke at the Wednesday December 9, 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by Thomas Frampton, University of Virginia Law professor and expert on criminal law and constitutional procedure.

Nov 112020
 

Al Christopher (left) and Michael Skiffington

From the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), administrator of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, Michael Skiffington Director of Policy and Al Christopher director of the Energy Division, spoke at the November 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia on the goals and implementation of the Virginia Clean Economy Act passed by the Virginia legislature in 2020. By 2050 Virginia targets to be 100 percent clean power. After an explanation of the role of DMME, the speakers focused on the implementation of the Clean Economy Act. There are benchmarks to be met along the way to a 100% clean power economy with penalties for failing to reach them. For example, by 2030, 30 percent of energy must come from renewable resources and any new building has to account for the cost of carbon pollution. Penalties are administered by DMME.

Past legislation has tried to address the problem of pollution, but in recent years there has been renewed interest, New to this legislation is the requirement that there can be no negative effect on disadvantaged communities. Wind and solar power are additional areas that offer opportunities to reach the 2050 goal. Twenty-seven miles offshore of Hampton Roads there are three wind turbines that could produce enough energy for 5,000 homes with many more turbines in the works. The two also spoke about the economic opportunities for business in Virginia such as research and development and job training. Virginia is involved in regional cooperation in this venture as well as “cap and trade” efforts with northeastern states.

There are two major companies affected by this act, Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power with separate goals for each one.

The two spoke at the Wednesday November 11, 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV board member and past president, Bob McGrath.

Oct 142020
 

Christopher Ambrose (left), Brian Cannon (right) and Bob McGrath (below)

Christopher Ambrose, an opponent of the proposed constitutional amendment #1 on this year’s ballot, and Brian Cannon, a proponent of the amendment spoke at the October 14, 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. Both men agreed on the problem: The need to remove the legislators from the drawing of district lines while each had a different vision of how to get there.

Brian Cannon (Fair Maps VA) supports the amendment. He believes that this is a “good government” issue and agrees that it is not perfect. He believes that there is a hybrid commission of one-half legislators and one-half citizens that are evenly balanced by parties, is transparent and makes racial gerrymandering illegal. This amendment has a lot of support from independent organizations who have fought for redistricting reform around the country.

Christopher Ambrose (Fair Districts VA) opposes the amendment. From his perspective the amendment trades one type of gerrymandering for another. His ideal is to get legislators totally out of the process. His objections include that though judges pick citizens for the commission, but they are picked from a list provided by legislators. His compromise would be to have some legislators on the commission. New Jersey passed a similar amendment and results have been the incumbents there have an advantage and voter turnout is diminishing.

The two spoke at the Wednesday October 14, 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV board member and past president, Bob McGrath.

Sep 092020
 

Allison Wrabel (top left), Bob Good (top right) and Cameron Webb

On September 9, 2020, the Senior Statesmen of Virginia held a Candidate Forum for the two candidates for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. Participating in the forum were Democratic candidate Cameron Webb and Republican Candidate Bob Good.

Our podcast begins with Jeff Gould, president of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia.

00:00 - Introduction from Jeff Gould
01:30 - Moderator Allison Wrabel introduces the candidates
04:45 - Democratic Candidate Cameron Webb
18:30 - Republican Candidate Bob Good
30:30 - Webb is given change to rebut Good's concluding statement
32:00 - Question #1 - The 5th District encompasses different kinds of area from rural to small cities. There can be a difference in ideology among those constituents. If elected, how in any specific way would you bridge that gap?
37:00 - Question #2 - What will both of you do if elected to address environmental conditions and climate change?
43:00 - Question #3 - Which specific actions are you going to take to get broadband to the 5th District
48:30 - Question #4 - Can you each discuss your views on health care?
55:40 - Closing statement from Good
59:00 - Closing statement from Webb

The candidates spoke at the Wednesday September 9, 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by Daily Progress journalist Allison Wrabel.