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Washington and Lee University to host commonwealth's attorney candidate debate

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LEXINGTON (WSLS 10) - Washington and Lee University announced Friday it will host a debate between candidates for Rockbridge County and the City of Lexington commonwealth's attorneys.

Republican Chris Billias and independent Joshua Elrod will answer questions written primarily by students in W&L journalism professor Kevin Finch's State and Local Government course. Finch previously organized and produced around 24 political debates in Indiana, where he was a television news director.

Billias, a 1998 W&L law graduate, is the county-city chief deputy commonwealth's attorney, a position he has held four of his seven years under current Commonwealth's Attorney Robert "Bucky" Joyce. He is running as a Republican though the race is officially non-partisan.

Elrod, son of Lexington mayor Mimi Elrod and late W&L President John Elrod, is a Lexington attorney whose practice focuses on criminal defense as well as family law, real estate law, and civil litigation. He ran for commonwealth's ttorney four years ago, losing to Joyce.

The two candidates for in each race will debate October 7, 7:30 p.m. in the Moot Court Room of Sydney Lewis Hall, home of W&L's School of Law and is expected to last about 30-45 minutes. Admission is free and open to the public. Both candidates have ties to W&L, and neither one sees himself as a career politician.

W&L's journalism department also invited the two candidates for the 24th district seat in  the Virginia House of Delegates to debate. Democrat Ellen Arthur accepted, but incumbent Ben Cline declined, citing a busy schedule and several joint appearances with Arthur to which he was already committed.