Wilt, Frank address Valley Family Forum

Alex Sirney -- May 28th, 2010

The republican and independent candidates running for the 26th district seat in the General Assembly faced policy questions tonight focusing on their views on religion and politics, abortion rights, gay rights and taxes.

The Valley Family Forum, a conservative Christian-based lobbying group that focuses on what it describes as pro-family policies, questioned Republican Tony Wilt and Independent Carolyn Frank Friday night.

The forum at Cornerstone Church on Lake Shenandoah and was moderated by VFF Director Dean Welty and Assistant Director Rita Dunaway. The candidates answered six questions about their background and views without the other in the room, then were asked side by side if they would support a list of proposed or enacted policies.

Wilt and Frank debate

Frank addressed the crowd of about 40 people first, putting energy into her answers that frequently went to the time limit and mentioning her own Christian faith journey several times. She generally agreed with the VFF’s philosphies, though she reiterated her proposed gas tax increase and spoke against criminalizing abortion, said she saw nothing wrong with civil unions. She mentioned a desire to “help people, not hurt them” several times.

Wilt spoke second and gave much briefer responses that uniformly supported VFF policies. He spoke in favor of faith-based policy decision making and against the current interpretation of the separation of church and state, abortion and gay rights. He did not elaborate on many points, but did say that this is not the time to talk about tax increases considering the economic hardships many people face. .

Frank used her opening statement in the side-by-side policy discussion to bring up Wilt’s recent mailer, pointing out that she was on the same city council that made many of the decisions he criticized and saying that they had no choice, stopping just short of saying that he would have voted the same way.

Democratic candidate Kai Degner did not attend the debate after saying that it was not a non-partisan venue. When contacted after the forum, he reiterated his respect for the VFF’s advocacy of its views and said that he was looking forward to a comprehensive discussion of issues in front of the Harrisonburg Chamber of Commerce.

Welty expressed disappointment that Degner did not attend and said that Degner should tell them what he believes.

“We want you to listen to us and we want to listen to you,” he said after the debate.

The VFF generally does not endorse candidates, but Welty pointed out several points where the candidates differed – opposition to abortion, the definition of marriage, the support of keeping “sexual preference” off the list of non-discrimination and hate crimes traits. He also said that he would support any candidate who was opposed to taxes, and criticized Frank’s proposed gas tax increase.

The candidates meet again on Tuesday at 8 am, when all three candidates are scheduled to attend a forum hosted by the Harrisonburg Chamber of Commerce.

Full disclosure: I was 20 minutes late and missed the introduction and Frank’s answer to the first question, which dealt with a Gallop poll that said 81 percent of Americans believe the country is in a moral decline. I was given a copy of Welty’s introductory remarks, which provided a background on the VFF and its policies, after the event.

4 Responses to “Wilt, Frank address Valley Family Forum”

  1. republitarian says:

    A few corrections….

    Carolyn, when it comes to the issue of abortion, is unsure about how to punish women who have abortions and the jails needed to house the women. She never said she was not for criminalizing it.(You’d probably have to punish the “doctors”)

    Carolyn does not differ with Tony on gay marriage(God has already defined marriage, how a secular state defines it is another matter)). The difference is with civil unions.

    It seemed on many occasions that she had to talk so fast because the 1 minute time limit wasn’t enough time to explain a complete thought. In many cases the questions to longer to read than the time provided for the answers.

    I thought Tony did a very good job of being very composed and he seemed very truthful and sincere in his answers.

    • Alex Sirney says:

      The section and comments from which I drew the conclusion that Frank was not in favor of criminalizing abortion was her answer to the question of at what point a government is responsible for protecting life as well as the jail comment you mentioned.

      She said that we can’t make laws making abortion illegal because people have always done things that are illegal. She also expressed concern that if Virginia outlawed abortion (which it can’t anyway), people would go to other states.

      The strict time limits were certainly much more of an issue for Frank than Wilt.

  2. Lowell Fulk says:

    What time is the COC forum on Tuesday?

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