MEET THE PANEL
Name: Octavia Phillips
Lives: Richmond, Virginia
Works: University administrator
Voting intention: Democrat
In 10 words or less:
"Motivator, leader by example, thrill seeker, advocate for the people"
I am a registered Democrat but I try to look beyond party lines.
Virginia is a curious state politically as it is traditionally Republican but the last two governors have been Democrats.
There is no governor's race this year, but we do have a key Senate race, with Democratic candidate James Webb running against Republican incumbent George Allen.
I will be voting for Webb as he is a strong candidate with a good chance of making a crucial gain for the Democrats.
Allen has always voted with President Bush and as a result it seems now that he is guilty by association.
There are so many important domestic issues that need to be dealt with and, as far as I can see, Allen is still repeating the same rhetoric about staying the course in Iraq.
I have seen a steady decline in our state since he has been in the Senate and it is time for a progressive change.
In our Congressional race in the 7th district, I will be voting for Democrat Jim Nachman. Although Republican Eric Cantor is the incumbent, and favoured to win, I like where Nachman stands on Iraq and immigration.
As far as other key issues, education is always a top priority for me. Virginia has seen cuts in funding in education and this is not good for the state.
We need more funding for students from disadvantaged backgrounds and we also need higher salaries for people working in the education sector.
Unemployment is another major issue in Virginia. Providing jobs is very important, but we also need to provide training.
I would also like to see the introduction of affordable health care for all workers. Forty percent of the US population does not have health insurance and that is embarrassing.
How can be we spend billions to create a stable democracy in another country and neglect our own domestic crises?
One of my favourite quotes is: "If you always do things the way you always have done, you always will be what you always have been."
I feel that this definitely applies to the current state of affairs in Virginia and is very relevant to these elections.