UMW to host public debates for seats in the House of Delegates



From UMW:

The University of Mary Washington will host a public political debate among the candidates for the seat of the 28th District of Virginia House of Delegates on Wednesday, September 22 at 7 p.m.

UMW will be hosting two public policy debates, starting next week, via YouTube.

The incumbent Del. Joshua Cole (R) will take on opponent Tara Durant (R) live via Zoom, with public viewing accessible via Youtube. Viewers can submit questions for consideration for inclusion in the debate using a online form until 11 a.m. on the day of the event. The 28th Borough covers Fredericksburg and parts of Stafford County.

The UMW will host a second debate in the House of Delegates, for the 88th District seat, on Tuesday, October 26, with Democrat Kecia Evans, Republican Phillip Scott and libertarian Timothy Lewis. The 88th arrondissement covers part of the counties of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania, Stafford and Fauquier.

“As COVID has forced us to debate online this fall, we can expect vigorous discussions on the way forward for Virginia,” said moderator Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at UMW and director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies.

Of the.  Joshua cole
Of the. Joshua cole

The events are organized by Mary Washington’s College Republicans, Young Democrats and Student Government Association (SGA). “Such debates invest in student participation and increase enthusiasm for civic engagement,” said Brianna Reaves, President of UMW SGA. “Including students in this process is crucial for the popular activism we see on campus. “

The debates are co-sponsored by the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, The freelance star and the League of Women Voters of the Fredericksburg area. News Director Ted Schubel of WFVA Radio and Editorial Page Editor Barbara Hollingsworth of The freelance star ask questions of candidates during the hour-long debate.

Elected to represent Virginia’s 28th District in 2019, Cole was appointed to serve on the State Commission on Youth, the Autism Advisory Council, and the Rappahannock River Basin and Martin Luther King Jr. .. He was elected in 2020 as one of five representatives of the Virginia Democratic National Committee. Former Chairman of the Stafford County NAACP, Cole is a member of the Greater Fredericksburg Area Interfaith Council, Associate Pastor at Union Bell Baptist Church in Stafford, and Speaker of the House of Clergy. for the Union of Charismatic Orthodox Churches.

Tara Durant
Tara Durant

Tara Durant is an elementary school teacher, mother, wife of Marine and breast cancer survivor, making her first run for public office. She has served on the boards of the Fredericksburg Area Service League and the PTO, as well as the Citizens Review Panel with United Way. Durant also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and supported local sports teams and St. Mary’s Church in Fredericksburg.

Taking place less than a week before National Voter Registration Day, a celebration of democracy that encourages participation in the political process, the first of two UMW debates in 2021 highlights local elections.

“One of my favorite traditions at Mary Washington is our ability to organize candidate debates for elected offices in the region,” Farnsworth said, “and the willingness of those candidates each year to join us in discussing the future of our region. “

Submit your questions, which must be received by 11 a.m. on Wednesday, September 22, via an online form at

Watch the debate live on YouTube at


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