CULPEPER TIMES: Spanberger receives warm welcome in Culpeper during town hall

JEFF SAY, CULPEPER TIMES

Abigail Spanberger was met with a warm welcome in Culpeper Tuesday during a town hall where she listened to constituents issues and relayed her work in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Spanberger, serving her first term as 7th District Congresswoman, heard from a dozen residents of her district Tuesday, many with questions on healthcare and others expressing concern about solar projects within Culpeper County. 

She was met a common refrain from those chosen to ask questions, that they were pleased to have her as their representative. She said that despite the common perception in the country that there’s a divide, that she has been met with respect throughout the district. 

“That has been my experience across the board, in my eighth town hall, that I’ve had people ask challenging questions and they clearly disagree with me, but my duty is to answer those questions respectfully and fully,” Spanberger said. 

Three of those questions on Tuesday centered on solar farms in Culpeper County – a topic unique to this community.

Susan Ralston asked about Spanberger’s thoughts on renewable energy and specifically about solar developers coming into Culpeper County and using agricultural land – mentioning two pending projects that would take up more than 3,000 acres.

Later, her husband Troy asked a similar question, noting that Spanberger had said she was in favor of renewable energy but asking how she balanced that with also being in favor of Virginia’s agriculture and scenic views.

“It is a locality issue,” Spanberger said. “It is up the locality for land use and it’s up to land owners to determine if they want to sell their land or not. I have to trust that Culpeper County knows best and what is necessary for Culpeper and what is right for Culpeper. My expectation is that they are doing their due diligence. I absolutely understand it is a challenging issue for so many people and my role is that they can bring any concern to me. I still appreciate the opportunity to understand the opinions in our community.”

Jeffrey Nichol, a junior at Culpeper County High School, asked about the issues with college affordability.

Spanberger said she is part of a group called Future Forum that is relatively younger members of Congress that focus on issues younger Americans are concerned about – one of those is college affordability. 

“One is ensuring people can negotiate their college loans,” Spanberger said. “I am a believer that we need highly competitive, low interest rate loans for students to go to school.”

Another hot topic was healthcare, and she said the discussion is one she’s had numerous times throughout her travels. 

One question, asked by Ed Dunphy, of Culpeper, focused on what transperancy can be used with the healthcare industry in terms of up front costs when you sign that you’re willing to pay – and yet not fully knowing what you may have to pay for prior to a doctor’s exam.

Spanberger started to answer the question, then admitted she didn’t know the answer and would have to research it. 

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to have a point in the process brought up where I haven’t been part of the conversation,” she said. “I think it’s important to be honest, in a district like ours I want to make sure I tell people what I’m working on and what I’m interested in. I generally have a lot of answers for a lot of questions but I think it was an excellent question and I talked to my team last night and we’re starting to do some research but I’ll be able to get back to Ed and I’m grateful that someone inspired me.”

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