Democrats gather to support Leslie Cockburn

By Christina Dimeo, Editor

About 350 people gathered at Supervisor Mozell Booker’s home Saturday afternoon (Oct. 6) to listen to Democrats with a specific message for Fluvanna residents: Vote Nov. 6.

Clustered around tables on a grassy slope by a pond, Fluvanna residents cracked crabs and ate fried chicken while cheering several prominent speakers.

Gold Star father Khizr Khan, former Representative Tom Perriello, and Attorney General Mark Herring each addressed a different aspect of the current political climate, but all three urged their audience to vote on Election Day, and specifically, to vote for 5th District candidate Leslie Cockburn.

Cockburn mentioned several problems she wants to address if she is elected to Congress. She highlighted the Republican budget proposal to cut $1.5 trillion from Medicaid over a decade, saying, “This must be fixed.”

She told a story of visiting the food bank in Charlottesville the previous day and discussing the idea that people on Medicaid should have to work. “They said, ‘We would like to tell you that nearly 90 percent of the people who can work – who are on Medicaid – do work,’” she said. “And every household on Medicaid has someone who’s a child, or an older person who needs help, or someone who is disabled. So let us inject a little bit of fairness and understanding of the need to help our fellow citizens and make that a priority.”

Medications can be priced so highly that some people can’t afford them, Cockburn said. “I really want to attack that, and I think it’s very important not to take corporate PAC money, because in order to fight these huge and very powerful people, you can’t be compromised,” she said. “So I’m not taking any corporate PAC money.”

The crowd cheered.

“And by the way,” she continued, “you don’t have to, because when you don’t take that money, everybody else comes forward.”

After her speech Cockburn discussed her thoughts about education in Fluvanna.

“When you sit down and talk to Mozell Booker about education issues in Fluvanna – you can say that these are the same education issues everywhere – but there are some specifics here,” she said. “What we need in the schools, how our schools are being starved, how we need more money for special education, how we need to give counselors more time with kids, and how we need more time for counselors to work with parents.

“This is something I learned in Fluvanna” by talking with Booker, Cockburn said. “She was the first person I had the conversation with.”

Former Representative Tom Perriello
As people sat under the tent listening to speeches, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was preparing to be sworn in as a Supreme Court justice after a vicious confirmation battle.

“This has been a brutal week,” Perriello said to a quieted crowd. “It’s a week we’ll remember for a long time.”

So it matters “who’s in Washington to cast votes for us,” he continued. “And because their votes matter so much, our votes matter this November… I hope we’ll think of it as a week when survivors across the country spoke up and changed the dynamics.

“We may lose the balance on the [Supreme] Court, but we sure as hell are going to fight back until we have the balance of power in both the House and the Senate,” Perriello said to thunderous applause. “When we win, good things happen for us and our neighbors. And when we don’t show up, a whole different agenda goes through.”

Perriello urged his listeners to vote for Cockburn, a former investigative journalist. “I don’t know about you, but I think we need someone with an investigative journalism background in Congress,” he said.

Gold Star father Khizr Khan
Khan, Gold Star father of fallen Army Captain Humayun Khan, gave a stirring speech about the beginnings of authoritarianism.
“I have lived twice under martial law, under authoritarian regimes, under dictatorship,” he said. “I have seen with my own eyes the newspapers shut down ‘because they criticize me. Arrest the newspaper reporters because they criticize me.’ So the very first thing an authoritarian does is declare the free press, the hallmark and highlight of our constitutional government, they declare it the enemy of the people. You can connect the dots and you can see what is taking place in our country and our Congress.

“The second thing they do is they do not like judges, the judiciary, the rule of law,” Khan continued. The crowd listened intently. “They want to appoint their own judges… You can connect the dots where we stand today. And when that is the situation that is taking place in the U.S. Congress, we need to elect the right leaders.”

Khan called on the audience to reach out to others and urge them to vote. “America remains a beacon of hope for the rest of the world regardless of the difficulties we are going through,” he said. “But that depends on our participation… Do not underestimate the power of your vote.”

Attorney General Mark Herring
Herring spoke with the Fluvanna Review about strides his office is making to address sexual violence.

“The effort was geared primarily toward public colleges and universities in Virginia,” he said. “It started back in 2014 as the country was beginning to have this long-overdue conversation about sexual violence on college campuses.”

Concrete recommendations include “putting prevention policies in place, including removing obstacles to reporting, letting students know that we will be there to support them, and trying to make sure that it is met with a survivor-centered and trauma-informed response,” he said. “By trauma-informed I mean a response where those who are investigating these reports know how trauma can impact memory, and do the investigations in a way that doesn’t re-victimize the survivor.”

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