Virginia gubernatorial candidates hold final debate

Virginia gubernatorial candidates hold final debate

BLACKSBURG, Va. - On Thursday night the candidates for Virginia gubernatorial race faced off in their final showdown before the November election.

Hot topics included jobs, coal, schools, and gun control.

At Virginia Tech in Blacksburg the candidates answered questions about how they would grow jobs in Virginia especially in the southwest region.

Republican Ken Cuccinelli said Washington is hurting coal with too much regulation. He says he intends to keep fighting it.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe did not specifically address coal and instead focused his answers on Medicaid expansion to grow jobs.

McAuliffe said, "Millions of dollars would be invested in these communities with quality lifesaving care. Why do people get forced into poverty? It's because of their healthcare costs."

On education reform, Cuccinelli says a commission should review the standards of learning. "So they better evaluate our children and allow us to evaluate and better fairly evaluate our teachers," he said. "I think that's an important change."

McAuliffe said the key to reforming the schools is making standardized tests more of an essay format to assess critical thinking skills. He also says he wants to make sure education funding doesn't get cut.

With recent school shootings and the Virginia Tech massacre still fresh on many minds, the debate turned to gun control. Cuccinelli says there's a bigger problem that goes beyond guns.

Cuccinelli stated, "I've been one of the leading experts on mental health issues and in the general assembly and as attorney general and would be as governor in Richmond."

McAuliffe said he supports universal background checks and talked about meeting a victim of the shooting. "Collin Goddard was in one of the classrooms.  He was shot four times. He still has three bullets in his body," he told the moderators. "I think it's critical and imperative for every community and every elected official to do the best thinks we can. Some people should not own guns."

Election Day is Tuesday November 5 in Virginia.

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