State Sen. Ralph Northam, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, stopped by the Greenspring retirement community in Springfield on Wednesday to urge people to exercise their right to vote and to encourage their friends and neighbors to do the same.
With the support of Del. Vivian Watts, D-Annandale, Sen. George Barker, D-Alexandria, and U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., Northam spoke to the group briefly about the importance of healthcare expansion, education for children and transportation improvements.
"The costs of healthcare has risen a lot quicker than people's salaries," he said. "One of our top priorities, if I'm successful, is to move forward with healthcare expansion. I'm hoping [Terry] McAuliffe and [Mark] Herring are also successful."
Northam said education is also something he hopes to focus on if he wins on Nov. 5. Focusing on prekindergarten programs for all children, Northam said, is important in preparing those children for success.
"We have to invest in our future talents. Our children's education is very important," Northam said. "We know that if our children are not reading by the third grade, there's a good chance they will end up in the penitentiary system. Pre-K programs are important and separate the haves from the have nots."
Northam is up against Republican candidate E.W. Jackson for the lieutenant governor position. On Wednesday, Watts and Connolly described Jackson, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli and candidate for attorney general Mark Obenshain as being "extreme" and "far right."
Cuccinelli, Connolly said, does not have Virginians' best interests in mind, adding that Cuccinelli "spends most of his time suing people, and loses in court most of the time. He pursues his pet projects and pet peeves. Obenshain is about as extreme as Cuccinelli."
"Ralph Northam is very calm and a Virginian gentleman. And that's the kind of person we need in that seat," Connolly said.
The four Northern Virginia political leaders talked about the importance of getting out to vote in two weeks and how this year's voters have to also encourage others to do the same to get Virginia moving forward.
"This [election] will be decided by turnout. I know you're going to vote," Watts said, "but please encourage your friends as well."