Abbot and Watson spar in Williamsburg debate

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November 1, 2011

12:29 AM

Virginia General Assembly Del. Robin Abbott J.D. ’01 (D-93) and Republican challenger Mike Watson squared off in a debate sponsored by the Williamsburg League of Women Voters Thursday night.

Watson, a self-described businessman, entrepreneur and craftsman, opposed the single-term incumbent. Throughout the debate, he emphasized his background in private enterprise.

“I have an engineering background; I have worked as a technician. I understand what blue-collar is because I am and was [blue-collar],” Watson said. “I also started a company when I was 27 and that company has now, in 22 years, worked on three continents, provided hundreds of jobs, gained recognition as state Small Business of the Year and as a Blue Chip Enterprise award finalist.”

Abbott called attention to her varied career history.

“I think my life experience brings more to the table than my opponent,” she said. “I went back to college late in life, so I understand the struggles of balancing college work with working and raising children. I think my work as a consumer advocate gives me the ability to know when to fight, know when to compromise and brings negotiation skills to the table that allow me to know when to compromise and know when to stand firm.”

Economic issues were among the topics of discussion.

“I think there is indeed a sharp contrast in my ideas of economic growth, efficiency and responsible spending as opposed to [my opponent],” Watson said. “I hope you can recognize there is a big difference between talking about accomplishments and actual leadership.”

Abbott addressed the issue of abortion.

“I find it quite interesting that my opponent wants small government intervention when it comes to Medicaid, Medicare, the EPA, Social Security, but he wants to get into a woman’s uterus — I find that appalling,” she said.

While most students appreciate the importance of presidential elections, some may forget the significance of state elections, state representatives and their public policies. State legislatures control public funding for higher education, among many other programs. Students as voters have a more profound effect on localized elections as there are fewer votes with which to contend.

“State elections are elections that tend to get ignored; they tend to be low turnout, but they are also the elections that are most likely to affect your daily life,” College of William and Mary Young Democrats president Katie Deabler ’12 said. “While federal policy is often more exciting, things like education and transportation funding are decided on a state level.”

Deabler emphasized the importance of the election for the future of the College.

“This is a financially difficult time for the College, and our [state] funding is decided by the General Assembly,” she said.

The College Republicans did not reply to requests for comment.

Elections will be held Nov. 8. Precinct and poll information may be found on the James City County Elections website.

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