What was slated as a forum for candidates vying for Virginia’s 11th congressional district turned into an impromptu debate between incumbent Gerry Connolly (D) and Republican candidate Col. (Ret) Chris Perkins.
The two candidates, who have not agreed on a time for a formal debate, went back and forth Tuesday at the Tysons Corner Marriott on issues ranging from the Affordable Healthcare Act to the local job market.
“It’s what the people are owed,” Perkins said about the impromptu debate.
Connolly, Perkins and Independent candidates Chris DeCarlo and Mark Gibson attended the forum co-sponsored by the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Merrifield Business Association. Each candidate was given seven minutes to speak before turning the program over to the voters for a question and answer session. Candidates Peter Marchetti and Joe Galdo did not attend the forum. Galdo told Patch after the forum that he did not receive an invitation.
For about three minutes of his allotted time, DeCarlo decided to speak of his platform through the urban art form of rap. DeCarlo, who is working on a third campaign rap, “Money, money, money,” said after experiencing the checks and balances of Fairfax County government, he decided to run for office. The crowd of mostly middle-aged and senior citizens listened with mixed reviews of the DeCarlo’s melody to a popular track from the movie about triumphant fictional character, “Rocky.”
“Nobody ever listens to the Independent’s speech,” DeCarlo said.
While Gibson spoke about his intent to focus on government overhead if elected, Connolly and Perkins slugged it out on bigger issues.
Perkins told voters he would solve problems as he goes uphill. The self-anointed realist said it’s going to take hard work to get out of the abyss the nation is going into.
“We are truly at a fork in the road right now,” Perkins said. “We have a lot of people that are going downhill. We have some real problems.”
Connolly reminded voters of previous promises he made on other campaign trails that are coming to fruition. The congressman said he promised a rail system from Washington, D.C. to the Dulles International Airport and noted that completion is near with an opening date in 2014. Connolly also told voters he wanted to clean up Merrifield and quickly pointed out the new Mosaic District as proof of that promise.
“When I was elected in 1995, my second promise was to clean up Merrifield,” Connolly said. “Now, 16years later, we have the Mosaic District. It’s going to be an amenity for generations to come.”