Voters in Prince William County, where a conservative state lawmaker has refused to debate his Democratic challenger ahead of the Nov. 7 election, now have another way to see how the candidates stack up against each other.
The county chapter of the League of Women Voters' has posted prepared statements sent by Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Manassas), a 25-year-incumbent, and Democrat Danica Roem , a former newspaper reporter whose campaign has drawn national attention because she is a transgender woman.
The five sets of questions and answers about transportation funding, ethics and legislative priorities aren't quite the same as the lively back-and-forth discussion that can happen when candidates with polar-opposite views on social issues and public policy stand in front of a crowd with a vested interest in the outcome.
But that's exactly what Marshall said he wanted to avoid when he turned down an invitation to a Sept. 21 candidates forum sponsored by the nonpartisan League of Women Voters, the Prince William County chapter of the NAACP and Prince William Committee of 100 electoral educational forum.
Marshall — who has been called "Bigot Bob" by LGBTQ activists for his opposition to same-sex marriage and failed attempts to keep transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice inside government buildings — said he believes Roem's supporters would ambush him with either a protest or more insults.
Roem, meanwhile, has said on social media that she is willing to debate Marshall, even though he has "misgendered" her by repeatedly referring to her with male pronouns and questioning the legitimacy of her transition.
In his online answers to the League of Women Voters, Marshall touts his role in fighting plans by Dominion Energy to build power lines in the area and says he's committed to fighting new developments that would increase local traffic.
Marshall also makes a dig against the financial support Roem has received from LGBTQ groups and other supporters outside Virginia, arguing that there should be an easier way to figure out how much funding comes from out-of-state to individual candidates than the publicly available state financial disclosure forms that detail that information.
Roem describes her proposal to eliminate traffic lights on Route 28 as a way of reducing congestion, argues for making it easier for people without photo IDs to vote and — in a reference to the Dominion Energy power lines fight — said utility companies should be banned from making political donations.
You can see the full answers here.