HoD Candidates Answer: Why Are You Running? (Part 1/5)

Jeremy Aldrich -- May 21st, 2010

Candidates for the 26th District House of Delegates race spent time answering questions generated from a discussion among hburgnews readers.  This is the first video in a series.

More background:

Carolyn Frank is a member of Harrisonburg City Council and previously served as the city’s first female mayor (who is chosen from among council members and does not have independent executive power).  She is an employee of Verizon and is running as an independent, although she has indicated that if elected she would caucus with Republicans for committee assignments.  She previously ran for the same seat in 2007, losing to incumbent Matt Lohr.  She does not currently have a campaign website.

Tony Wilt is a Bergton native who now lives in Broadway. Wilt  is the owner of Superior Concrete, which currently has around forty employees.  This is his first campaign for public office.  He is running as a Republican.

Kai Degner is the current mayor of Harrisonburg.  A native of Germany who moved to Maryland as a young child, Degner has lived in Harrisonburg since attending JMU.  He is an employee at Fairfield Center in Harrisonburg.  In his only previous run for elected office in 2008, he was the top vote-getter out of eight City Council candidates.  He is running as a Democrat.

23 Responses to “HoD Candidates Answer: Why Are You Running? (Part 1/5)”

  1. Dave Briggman says:

    None of the three said anything about any SPECIFIC legislation they’d like to introduce, which is troubling.

    Thanks for having done this Jeremy.

  2. BANDIT says:

    kai was HEAD and SHOULDERS above the other two candidates. He is very well spoken and presented issues that he wanted to address.

    Could the candidates list their post High School education?

    What are the candidate’s opinion on the Shale drilling debate?

  3. Dave Briggman says:

    Benny, dump the high school education crap, will you?

    Stop the personal attacks…you of all people know those don’t work out really well.

  4. Dave Briggman says:

    My mistake, Benny, I misread your comment. I apologize.

    Kai has a Masters from JMU.

    Wilt attended BRCC, but I don’t know if he got a degree.

    Carolyn, I don’t think has anything but technical training from Verizon.

  5. Renee says:

    Great job, Jeremy – looking forward to learning more about the candidates through these sessions. It’s good to finally be able to see some of the candidates speak and I’m so glad hburgnews is doing this series!

  6. MF says:

    I am sorry if this sounds negative and crass, but the first two interviews are really disappointing. Carolyn has been on city council for how long? And she doesn’t know all of the problems facing the area?! Candidates have to do better then, “I like people” and “I’m married and have kids”.

  7. Why are you running gives a general overview of a candidate’s perspective. They are not going to launch into a wonkish policy discussion. I took the question to be more of an introduction to voters that may have not seen them before.

    Furthermore, if you listen to Kai he doesn’t do anything more than talk about having discussions and changing the process, which he has zero control over and doesn’t offer any concrete ways to change. He also states that state government can hurt us or help us. Does he want to get rid of the Dillon rule that keeps uniformity of law across the state? Does he propose that localities can change their charters without GA approval? He talks about experience at the local level. Does he have more than the other candidates?

    What does he say that is drop dead mind blowing here?

    Oh, that’s right. He’s the community organizing democrat!!!!!!

  8. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    Upcoming videos in this series will address some of the big issues the state government deals with. Personally, I am very thankful to all three candidates for taking part.

  9. BANDIT says:

    On the personal side of the candidate’s, maybe they could tell us about their upbringing and family life?

    If elected, how would they make a positive difference in our lives…in other words, give us your BEST SHOT at why we should vote for you?

    If elected, what are the candidate’s “TOP 3” priorities/agendas/issues they would go to work on?

  10. BANDIT says:

    …for the candidates that are having a hard time working out a schedule that would accommodate the forums/debates,….will you be able to make the meetings that represent us, THE VOTERS, if elected? Please explain, Thank You.

  11. MF says:


    Never said Kai did anything mind blowing in the interview, but he was able to answer the question. The “Why are you running” question is politics 101, that is the very first question you should have an answer for. Most people make that answer their campaign slogan. If you don’t have a decent answer for why you are running for said office, you have not put much thought into your campaign.

  12. Dany Fleming says:

    Staking political positions is certainly not going to happen much in 1 1/2 minutes of such an open question. I don’t imagine that was the goal of the initial questions.

    What really strikes me is the huge difference in the passion and seriousness of the candidates, at least from my view. Frankly, Witt just doesn’t seem engaged or interested – he seems content on saying as little as possible and suggesting he has some ideas. It’s hard to see that translating into effective representation in Richmond. Am I just off base or biased in that view?

    Degner is showing me he’s serious and passionate. For whatever position differences you may have with him, you have to acknowledge that Degner is out listening and learning about issues and concerns. He’s also not afraid to take a positions and talk. To me, Degner is willing to continue listening and become better informed on issues.

    Certainly, in now way do I equate being a “native” with necessarily being an effective advocate and local listener. Policy positions are important. However, it seems to me that the way you approach running for office and the time you make yourself available is a significant indicator of how you’ll perform if elected.

    • Dave Briggman says:

      Dany, I think you mean “Wilt”…I came away with the same impression of him…the same impression I held of Matt Lohr.

      Easy to be handled, and obviously a known quotient to those who set him up for the seat.

      • Emmy says:

        I agree Dave. I once had a local Republican who is very involved in the party tell me that’s exactly why they picked Lohr. I’m betting if we had the same discussion about Wilt, I’d hear the same thing.

  13. Dave Briggman says:

    I would like to, perhaps, have a meeting and compile a list of questions to ask Wilt to ascertain even his basic knowledge of government…I’m thinking it’s not the high…

  14. Dave Briggman says:

    It’s not that high, is what I meant to write.

  15. Jamie Smith says:

    When have we ever had a delegate that wasn’t “easily handled?” Not since Paul Cline held the seat for one term when Phoebe’s county voters couldn’t get to the polls because of the flood.
    (I guess I answered my own question, didn’t I.)

    • Lowell Fulk says:

      Yes you did Jamie. And if I’m not mistaken, that’s when the project to improve Rt. 42 between Broadway and Harrisonburg got put into motion. Could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

  16. Christa says:

    All I can say about these interviews is wow. They just kid of speak for themselves.

  17. Christa says:

    That should read they “kind” of speak for themselves.

  18. Andy Perrine says:

    Thank you for this, Jeremy. Objective and helpful citizen journalism at its very best.

    • Thanks Andy (and Dave and Renee from earlier). I really enjoy doing this kind of stuff!

      I wonder, how many of the readers here (maybe some who haven’t commented yet) are still undecided? What are the unanswered questions that are on their minds?

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