For the first time this election, 5th District congressional hopefuls Republican Bob Good and Democrat Dr. Cameron Webb made their cases to voters in a joint forum that at times was contentious.
Hosted by the Senior Statesmen of Virginia and moderated by Daily Progress reporter Allison Wrabel, the virtual forum was the first time voters were able to hear from both Good and Webb at the same event.
As nearly 1,000 individuals watched, the two introduced themselves and their policy points before quickly criticizing the other’s political views.
Webb, who works as a doctor, assistant professor of medicine and a director of health policy and equity at the University of Virginia, went first, spending much of his introduction talking about his background.
Growing up, Webb said, his parents instilled in him the value of public service, which led him to study medicine and later law. Through his work as a physician, Webb said he came to be aware that being a healer means more than just addressing symptoms.
“It taught me even more so that being a healer is more than just being a doctor being a physician, it means that we’re leaning into the issues that make our patients sick,” he said. “Oftentimes the issues that make them sick are related to education, or housing or food insecurity, challenges with earning a decent wage or having good-paying jobs.”
Webb said he views himself as a “consensus builder,” who looks to solve community problems instead rather than just sickness.
“We’ve got a unique moment to lean into where we can fix not only our healthcare system but our society to create fair opportunities,” he said. “No matter if you’re in a rural county or an urban environment, no matter your race or ethnicity, your sexual orientation or gender identity, you should have opportunities to succeed in these United States. That’s what the American Dream is.”
Good, a former Liberty University athletics director and former member of the Campbell County Board of Supervisors, also highlighted his humble beginnings and call to service during his introduction before launching into criticisms of Webb.
Growing up poor, Good said, he learned the value of hard work and compassion for those who are less fortunate.
“I had to work my way through college as my parents were unable to help me in any way, but together these experiences formed my work ethic and shaped me into the person that I am today,” he said. “These also developed within me because of the way that I grew up in a lower-income family and struggling as we did, it helped develop in me a real sense of compassion and a generous spirit to those who are less fortunate.”
Shifting gears from his own background, Good then contrasted his views with Webb’s, accusing the Democratic candidate of being “aligned with the radical socialist left that’s become much of a Democrat party.”
“If he [Webb] is elected, he would do everything in his power to stop President Trump’s agenda or, God forbid, to enact the Biden/Harris agenda, if President Trump was not reelected,” Good said. “He and I have a very different view for the future of America and the direction of our country. I wholeheartedly support President Trump’s America first policies, and I will work and vote accordingly as your representative.”
Good stressed his support of police officers and condemned actions to defund the police and remove statutory immunity, which shields officers from lawsuits. Instead, Good said he supported a “law enforcement bill of rights,” that would increase protections for officers and mandate a death penalty for anyone who killed a police officer.
Because much of Good’s introduction had focused on Webb, the Democratic candidate was given a minute to respond. Webb used his time to argue that Good’s record as a Campbell County Supervisor showed that he did not support law enforcement, pointing to a vote he cast not to increase the salaries of local officers.
“My opponent has had opportunities to increase police funding, but while he was on the Board of Supervisors in Campbell County ... he cast the deciding vote to actually make sure that their salaries were not even competitive with the rest of the Commonwealth,” Webb said. “He’s had that opportunity and he hasn’t taken it.”
Over the course of the next several questions, Webb positioned himself as a candidate who would seek bipartisan solutions to issues like climate change and rural broadband access, something he said is crucial to success.
Good backed Trump’s decision to roll back some environmental protections, arguing that environmental policy and energy policy are inextricably linked. The Republican candidate also cited Trump’s rural broadband plan and cited an experience he had a Campbell County Supervisor where the Board assisted a rural but affluent community in establishing broadband.
When asked about how to fix healthcare, Webb said that he does not support Medicare For All, instead supporting a public option as well as “free-market solutions.” As a physician, Webb said he sees every day how important private innovation is to healthcare and accused Good of taking a quote out of context to “spread misinformation” about his stance on Medicare For All.
“I support a public option, I support maintaining private insurance and I support using that to accomplish the goal of everybody being covered,” he said. “For me, the most important thing is that we have a health care system that works for the patients that I’m taking care of.”
Webb said he supports a healthcare system that would put the patient first and adequately fund hospitals that serve rural communities. Instead of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, Webb said he supports solutions that would, in part, create price transparency in healthcare and lower the cost of prescription drugs.
Good’s stance put an emphasis on market-driven healthcare over single-payer healthcare, which he claimed would bankrupt employers.
“Competition is always a good thing that provides more choice; it provides lower pricing, and forces improvement when you have competition,” he said. “We need to permit self-employed individuals and small businesses the ability to pull together and negotiate better plans at lower prices like the large employers do.”
Good and Webb will face off for the 5th District seat on Nov. 3.