1st Congressional District Democratic candidates to hold forum in James City

jojacobs@vagazette.com

Democratic candidates looking to unseat Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Westmoreland) will gather for a candidates forum March 1 in James City.

Candidates Edwin Santana, Ryan Sawyers and John Suddarth are expected to attend the forum. The event is free and open to the public, said Christina Verderosa of Peninsula Voices for Change.

Santana is a Stanford resident and former Marine, while Swayers is chairman of the Prince William School Board and Suddarth is a Hanover businessman and Army veteran.

Peninsula Voices for Change, a progressive nonprofit, sponsors the forum.

Rachel Bitecofer, a Christopher Newport University professor and assistant director of the college’s Wason Center for Public Policy, will moderate the event. At the forum Bitecofer will give each candidate an opportunity to answer questions sourced from material submitted by the public prior to the event, Verderosa said.

People can submit questions for the forum at peinsulavoicesforchange.org. Verderosa expects a wide variety of questions on topics ranging from immigration to education to be posed to the candidates.

Peninsula Voices for Change hopes to include all candidates vying for the nod to take on Wittman in November. At least one more Democratic candidate, Vangie Williams, has declared her candidacy in the race. Both the Democrats and Republicans will host primary elections in June, though at this time no Republican has publicly declared a bid to challenge Wittman in the primary.

Whoever ultimately wins the Democratic primary will be in for an uphill battle to defeat Wittman, who has represented the 1st District, which stretches from the outskirts of Washington, D.C. to portions of James City, since 2007.

Wittman defended his seat in 2016 with 60 percent of the vote. He also earned 63 percent of the vote in 2014, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

1st District Democratic candidates forum

When: 6-8:30 p.m., March 1.

Where: 4301 New Town Ave., Legacy Hall.

Cost: Free.

To submit questions, visit peninsulavoicesforchange.org.

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.

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