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John Edwards hosts town hall in Christiansburg

Edwards focusing on solar energy, affordable community college in 2018

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – State Sen. John Edwards met with constituents in Montgomery County Tuesday to discuss his priorities going into the 2018 legislative session. Many people brought their concerns about the future of Medicaid, and the proposed Mountain Valley pipeline.

Edwards came with a long list of topics to discuss with the crowd Tuesday, but audience members quickly made their own agenda known. One of those was Lynda Majors, who is worried about what the Mountain Valley pipeline could do to her well-water. She's angry the Virginia DEQ isn't inspecting each of the more than 1,100 streams the project is expected to cross.

"If they had done each individual stream, this pipeline couldn't go through because they have to have reasonable assurance that they can guarantee the water quality standards. They can't do that," Majors said.

Edwards sympathized with Majors. Last year, he submitted legislation to keep surveyors for the pipeline off private property, but it was defeated.

"I've sent a letter to the Water Quality Control Board, I've outlined all the reasons why they ought not grant carte blanche, they ought to at least require each stream to be looked at that it's crossing," Edwards said.

Another hot topic at the meeting was Medicaid. One doctor said he wants to see it expanded to cover many of his patients who need it.

"We certainly have a lot of people in the state that would clearly benefit from some preventative services. They would clearly benefit from getting access to medicines, and even access to care," Dr. William Thomas said.

Edwards said he's supported Medicaid expansion since the very beginning, but didn't offer much hope, blaming politics for the standstill.

"It's gotten to be so bitterly partisan and Washington politics has come to Virginia, and that's very unfortunate," Edwards said.

But Edwards said, there are areas he hopes to make strides in this coming legislative session, such as solar energy and making community college more affordable.