Last night, the James Madison College Democrats, College Republicans, and Madison Liberty took to the stage to discuss the 2014 Senate race and current political topics. Representing the Democrats was President Megan DiMaiolo and a fellow named Kevin, for the Republicans it was First Vice-Chair Jake Lee and Political Director Cole Trower, and for Madison Liberty it was President Emery Siegrist and Vice President Nicholas Farrar.
About seventy five people came to watch the debate. Most were students, though there were a handful of local residents. I was a little disappointed to discover that I was the only candidate for local office this year that attended.
Although the debate was designed to center around the three candidates for U.S. Senate: Mark Warner (D), Ed Gillespie (R), and Robert Sarvis (L), these names weren’t mentioned all that often. However, this switch also meant that the forum had a heavier focus on the issues of the day rather than simply rehashing repetitive partisan attacks. In addition, there was a live Twitter feed from the audience which allowed folks the opportunity to express their thoughts of what was transpiring on the stage. Each group has their share of supporters and detractors, with some tweeters going back and forth depending on the issue. I found it interesting that all three groups opposed the Harrisonburg Police Department’s ownership of an MRAP.
As student political activism is extremely important to me, I have been attending these twice yearly events for the last three years. In previous semesters, I recorded a portion or all of the debate as was done in 4/3/13 and 4/19/2012. Unfortunately with the extreme age of my video camera, I am unable to do so anymore.
I’d like to take a moment to offer my gratitude to each of the students who took to the stage last night. I know firsthand that it isn’t always easy to express your opinions publicly, but it is an important way to help advance political dialogue, which is sorely needed. I’d also like to commend those who took time on a Monday evening to listen to this discussion. Lastly, thanks to JMU and the Student Government Association for hosting the event. Every semester has been great and I appreciate the fact that you don’t discriminate against any of the three groups.
For those who weren’t able to attend Monday’s gathering, I hope you’ll consider coming in April 2015 when the JMU Dems, JMU GOP, and Madison Liberty take to the stage once more. I’ll see you there!