Mock Gubernatorial Debate at PVCC

Charles Stish, assistant editor


Photography by Charles Stish

Photography by Charles Stish

Last year, Assistant Professor of Political Science Connie Jorgensen and selected students from her American National Politics class (PLS 135) hosted a mock debate for the 2016 presidential election. At this debate, her students played the parts of debate moderator, debate panelists, and the main four presidential candidates. This event was held to help PVCC students and faculty gain a better grasp of the presidential candidate’s political platforms and opinions. This year, Jorgensen and her students hosted one for Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial candidates Ralph Northam and Ed Gillespie.

Held in the North Mall Meeting Room from 12-1 p.m., the debate had an impressive turnout as most of the room’s seats were filled with students and faculty who had come to observe and learn. In front of the audience stood PLS 135 students Emily Thomas Clarke and Abigail Glass. Clarke represented democrat candidate Ralph Northam, and Glass represented republican candidate Ed Gillespie. Classmate John Smith played the debate moderator while classmates Chad Mitchell, Blake Karaca, and Cara Warren comprised the debate’s panelists.

Outside of the room, Virginia21 and Spread the Vote members had a table where people could submit a political question to our future governor, enter a raffle for Amazon gift cards, and get a copy of PVCC’s non-partisan voter guide.

Before the debate began, Smith listed the objectives and rules of the debate. The candidates were to remain civil, not interrupt, and to be respectful towards one another.

The debate was also stated to be unbiased, and the portrayed candidates view did not necessarily reflect the political stances of the students portraying them. Same as last year, the students wrote and rehearsed their questions and answers to ensure there was no bias and they could practice trying to emulate their corresponding candidate. “We wanted to represent the candidates as accurately as possible for the people who came,” said Clarke.

With an allotted two minute response time, Clarke and Glass would answer each question according to their candidate’s platform and personality. The question topics included opinions and plans for gun control, decriminalization of marijuana, immigration and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Virginia healthcare, veteran rehabilitation, and higher education affordability.

Their responses were detailed and included plans and statements the candidates themselves have promoted during this campaign. Clarke incorporated Northam’s support for creating a Student Borrowers Bill of Rights and instituting his Get Skilled – Get a job – Give Back program into her responses, while Glass incorporated Gillespies’ support for the three-strikes law for marijuana possession and GO Virginia initiative in her’s. Glass even used Gillespies’ “Health in our Commonwealth” slogan and asked the crowd to repeat it for her, which they did.

Glass said, “It was really exciting but a bit stressful because I had to present the argument how Ed would, and Emily would agree on that.” To which Clarke responded, “Yeah, you have their platform and their stances on things, but you still have to present them how you think they would.”

After the closing statements that thanked the audience for their participation and the students for their hard work, a wave of applause erupted from the audience. When it ended, Jorgensen quickly gathered everyone’s attention once more and again thanked the crowd for coming. She said, “I want to thank my team here. Really, this is amazing! They worked incredibly hard on this, especially my candidates, Emily and Abby. Please, give them all one more round of applause!” Thunderous applause filled the room once more.


Voter Guide: http://www.piedmontforum.com/?p=32521

Virginia 21: https://www.pvcc.edu/student-life/clubs/virginia-21

Spread the Vote: https://www.spreadthevote.org/

Political Club: https://www.pvcc.edu/student-life/clubs/political-club

Ed Gillespie’s campaign page: https://edforvirginia.com/

Ralph Northam’s campaign page: https://ralphnortham.com/


Short URL: http://www.piedmontforum.com/?p=32567

Posted by on Nov 6 2017. Filed under Events, From the Forum. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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