SALEM, Va. – The two candidates vying to represent Virginia's 9th District in the United States House of Representatives faced off Monday night. Republican incumbent Rep. Morgan Griffith is up against Democratic challenger Anthony Flaccavento.
The debate at the Salem Civic Center was the third and final debate before the Nov. 6 election. Neither candidate showed off anything they hadn't already talked about. There are some issues they agree on, and some they couldn't be further apart on. But on Monday night, both cemented their cases for why they should win.
The 9th District showdown got one last battle at the podiums Monday night and 10 News anchor John Carlin was one of the three journalists asking questions for you. Carlin started the debate by asking the candidates what they would do to improve the situation on Interstate 81.
"Gas taxes go to the state, and under the current system, the state Commonwealth Transportation Board makes those decisions and, as you know, they have diverted a lot of that to northern Virginia. What I would advocate is for those monies, a small portion of that be allowed for individual congressmen and women to designate where they would want that money to go," Griffith said.
"We obviously need to do something now, We've been kicking the can down the road for quite some time, and probably begin with a three-laning progress through the Roanoke Valley. It's just what has to be done for safety's sake, for congestion, for commute time and all of that," Flaccavento said.
Large crowds turned out for both candidates as they disagreed on topics such as coal and foreign relations. But they sided together on some issues. They are both skeptical of eminent domain for natural gas pipelines, which was used in the process to construct the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and they both agree that the opioid crisis needs to be addressed and all treatment options need to be explored.
"I signed on as one of a handful of people who signed on to a letter asking questions directly of the pharmacists who make the opioids: What did you know and when did you know it? We're going to continue after them. They have got to pay a price for what they've done," Griffith said.
"Depending on who you talk to, medically assisted treatment is absolutely critical or medically assisted treatment sometimes becomes part of the problem with our Suboxone clinics and others. I think it really should be up to the localities in the state to figure out the ones that work, and we should be lifting up the most effective solutions," Flaccavento said.
Both candidates felt good about their performances at the end. Griffith said the difference between the two candidates is simple: He's the conservative candidate and his opponent is the liberal candidate. Flaccavento said he is a progressive and not a liberal, and he represents the working man.
On Tuesday, Flaccavento is celebrating his 100th town hall meeting, at the Lincoln Theatre in Marion. Griffith is set for a meet and greet at the Bristol Library on Tuesday.