Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Moran visits the 'Burg

Except for a few patrons at the door of the public library, Harrisonburg's Main St. was mostly deserted with a cold wind. But at Clementine's, the mood upstairs was festive with a lively younger crowd. Downstairs is a small bar and large rustic meeting room with sofas and chairs and local art that give it a feel of a living room complete with a large TV. The owners make this inviting space available to a variety of groups - it has become a casual meeting place for a variety of progressive groups like the local Democrats and the Sierra Club.
Clementine's is an important part of the renaissance of the once near-dead downtown. Thirty years ago there was Advance Auto, an A&N Store, Whetzel Seed Co., and a Woolworth's along with furniture, shoe, and clothing stores. Those that didn't die moved to the Valley Mall area or down Rt. 11. For a while, the only thing that attracted me to court square was Jess's Lunch - if you've been there you know what I'm talking about; if not, you should go for a dog and the cultural experience. Now downtown boasts several restaurants, Court Square Theater, small museums and historical attractions. Glad to see the new energy.
Last night nearly 60 people filled the room to meet gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran. He arrived just after the starting time and began shaking hands and taking time to chat with every person. Since the event was hosted by the JMU Democrats, about half the crowd were probably not able to buy a beer - but one young man was celebrating his 21st! Also spotted were House of Delegates candidates Greg Marrow (25th) and Gene Hart (26th), and Harrisonburg Mayor Kai Degner, the state's youngest mayor.
With the frontpage of his website scrolling pictures behind him, Moran talked about clean and green energy, saying NO to a coal-fired generator at Surry, improving health care for all Virginians, job creation, and much more. In response to a question about I-81, Moran expressed strong support for rail as the long term solution. On another question about redistricting, Moran said as Governor he'd make sure there was bipartisan (or did he say nonpartisan?) review of the districts. He praised Senator and gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds who has been the strongest legislative proponent of creating a bipartisan redistricting commission.
Moran stumbled a bit on a student's question about a redefinition of the triggerman rule. Senator Obenshains' SB 961 expands the death penalty by allowing accessories before the fact and others indirectly involved in capital crimes to be eligible for the death penalty. Moran expressed support for the death penalty for the most heinous crimes, but seemed a bit confused about the bill and finally said he wasn't familiar with the legislation from this session. He recovered a bit to talk about the principle - it sounded like he opposes expansion of the death penalty. BTW, while we are on the topic, contact Governor Kaine and ask him to veto SB 961 its companion HB 2358.
With an audience that likely leans to Creigh Deeds (at least the older birds), Brian Moran connected. He spoke about how competing in the primary has forced him to focus on issues and and people while sharpening his positions and words. It is clear Brian Moran has done just that!
More at the Daily News-Record where I shamelessly "borrowed" the pic.

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