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Primary battle for Petersburg seat heats up at debate

Posted at 12:06 AM, May 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-07 00:41:51-04

PETERSBURG, Va. (WTVR)--The primary debate battle for the 63rd District seat of the Virginia House made its public debut Monday night in Petersburg, and hundreds were in attendance.

"As a delegate in the General Assembly my duty is to listen to the constituents," said candidate Evandra Thompson.

The debate began as most debates do with a civil and polished introduction. Both candidates stated plainly their intentions for holding office.

"I’m always looking at ways to improve healthcare and I serve on the healthcare committee," said incumbent Del. Roslyn Dance.

Quickly debate issues like education, healthcare and transportation became weapons of attack; and then became material for counter attack.

"When they cut the funding for GRTC our delegate was nowhere for comment," said Thompson as she looked at Dance across the stage.

"I have to go up against the giants but I do it every day because I love the city I've lived in for 65 years and don't plan on going anywhere," responded Dance, as she earned applause from the audience.

Evandra Thompson is a young face in Virginia politics who has never held office. She was eager to show her knowledge of the General Assembly.

"Well just to enlighten you this evening Delegate Dance the Dillon rule is a rule that effects what control localities have," said Thompson as she responded to a question.

But the 8-year veteran Delegate was eager to defend her record as well.

"I'm sure you would find if you visit us during session how it really works," said Dance to Thompson.

After the debate several Dance supporters were quick to point out that Thompson is being backed heavily by Delegate Joe Morrissey, who they contend comes with an political agenda of his own. Morrissey denies that.

“No, no dog in this fight," he said when asked about any alternative motives.

Morrissey claimed Dance has voted outside Democrat lines and broken promises made to her district. Others at the debate pointed to Thompson's overly aggressive approach at the debate and believe it showed her lack of experience.

"Very definitely a strong lack of substance," said one debate attendee.

Both women closed their debate performance on a confident note.

"On June 11th at 7 p.m. we're going to win this," said Dance.

Moments later her opponent would claim the same.

"I'm going to see you at my victory party," said Thompson.

Primary elections will be held on June 11.

Will you be voting on June 11, in the primary for the 63 District seat? Dialogue is heating up, and two candidates debated on Monday night.

Meet the contenders: