After Corey Stewart said during Saturday's U.S. Senate debate that in Danville “young people have left, the opioid crisis is completely out of control. The murder rate is way up. All crimes are way up. Suicides are way up, you have boarded up shops,” local news outlets and community leaders have swiftly condemned Corey for his attacks on the city.
Stewart brought up the subject in his opening statement where he sketched out a grim vision of Southside Virginia. “I see a different Virginia. I go down to Danville and I see boarded-up shops. I see a place where the young people have left. I see a place where the people who remain are struggling to stay afloat . . . Why? Fundamentally because we had so little economic growth when Democrats were in charge of the White House.”
Stewart has overstated Danville’s problems and attributed the ones it does have to the wrong causes. We also notice what Stewart doesn’t say. He doesn’t say anything about how Danville — or other communities — should deal with the economic transformations that have roiled the economy.
We got an answer to that question Saturday night when U.S. Senate candidates Tim Kaine and Corey Stewart squared off at the Virginia Bar Association’s annual conference at the Homestead Resort for the first debate of the campaign. Attempting to paint the national economy in as dire straits as possible, Stewart cribbed the Breitbart article for all it was worth to try to blame all the city’s and the nation’s woes on Kaine and the Democratic Party.
What Stewart and the Breitbart writer don’t acknowledge, because it doesn’t fit their predetermined narrative, is that this city and its residents are far from dead. Rather, we are re-examining ourselves, tallying our strengths and weaknesses and determining where we fit in in the 21st-century economy. And we are rebuilding and repurposing ourselves for that new economy.
Senator Tim Kaine was quick to defend Danville during the debate, saying Stewart should visit with local leaders.
Local leaders also took to Twitter to defend Danville during the debate, citing the great things being done in the city to make it a better place to live.
Disappointing that Corey Stewart is using @BreitbartNews talking points about #DanvilleVA in his #VaSen debate today. We'd be happy to show you, or anyone, the great work that is being done here by many ppl. We're a great city. Not a talking point. –Vice Mayor Lee Volger
Vice Mayor Lee Vogler said he'd be happy to show Stewart, or anyone else, the great work that is being done by many people to improve the city.
Something people should know about me: my love for my city tops any political affiliation. I will always defend #DanvilleVA against mischaracterizations, regardless of where they come from. – Vice Mayor Lee Volger
Councilman Adam Tomer says Stewart needs to get his facts straight.
"Danville is more than a talking point or something you'd read on a blog," Tomer said. "If Corey Stewart actually visited Danville for more than a Confederate costume ball, he'd see this city is on the rise."
Vice Mayor Lee Vogler says the city has changed for the better.
In a tweet he sent out Saturday, Vogler said Danville is a great city, not a talking point.
"Our unemployment rate right now is the lowest that it's been in well over a decade," Vogler said. "We've had over $150 million in private sector investment just in the River District alone in the last handful of years. We've went from 200 residents here to 2,000 in the River District and growing."