Hob Nob in the Valley is a nonpartisan event held by the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber each year. The event consisted of a straw poll, dinner, and an opportunity to hear local political candidates speak. In the Winchester City, Frederick, and Clarke County areas, there are over 6 elections, including the Presidential election.
The event started with introductions of different city council and county board candidates from across the western half of Northern Virginia. Quickly after, the candidates for the mayor of the city of Winchester had the opportunity to introduce themselves and speak. Winchester is having its first mayoral race in 12 years. John “David” Smith Jr. (D) discussed how he moved to Winchester and invested in the community by founding the Village Market and Bistro, Village Square Restaurant, and V2 Piano Bar. Before running for mayor he has served on several boards, including the Winchester Planning Commission. He also presented his goal to get more vocational training into Winchester City Public Schools. Barry Deuel (R) began with how he has lived in Winchester for 33 years and is involved in the community. He has served on the school board where he collaborated with the Winchester City Council and renovated Daniel Morgan Middle School and Handley High School, under budget and on time. He, like John “David” Smith advocates for bettering education for Winchester City Schools.
Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R) spoke before Luann Bennett (D) . The Congresswoman began by recalling how she promised two years ago at Hob Nob 2014 that she would “hit the ground running on day one” when she was elected to office and she did. On her first day as Congresswoman for the 10th District of Virginia, a veterans hiring bill was passed. The veterans hiring bill was followed by other legislation advocating for veterans’ health that were passed. National security and defense cuts were stopped. Congresswoman Comstock told the crowd she would be a strong advocate for the military, defense, and aiding veterans. Additionally Congress voted for tax relief and a higher family tax credit while Comstock was in Congress. She also worked on transportation, education, and giving funding for disease research while in Congress.
Luann Bennett (D) began her speech by addressing the heavily Republican crowd with, “I feel a little bit like I walked into Barbara Comstock’s fan club.” After the chuckles and cheers from the crowd died down, Bennett introduced herself and gave insight to who she is. Bennett is from the midwest and moved to Fairfax County 35 years ago. She and her husband started a family and a small real estate business. Sadly her husband passed and Bennett was suddenly a single mother, but she still grew her real estate business and her family. Bennett told the crowd how she has ample experience compromising with others and is ready to “work across the aisle.”
Each candidate did not attack the other, but they did have very different opinions on key issues, especially immigration. Congresswoman Comstock described a step-by-step approach to resolve immigration issues. The congresswoman added that she believes that there are many areas of agreement. Bennett described a comprehensive immigration reform bill. She supports an immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in 2013, but it did not pass in the House. Several times Bennett referenced how she is against building a wall between the United States and Mexico and religious tests for immigrants; the stances of Presidential Candidate Donald Trump (R). Congresswoman Barbara Comstock has repeatedly said that currently she is more focused on her election and bettering the 10th district, not the Presidential race.
Hob Nob in the Valley closed with the results of the straw poll. Donald Trump won with 63% over Hillary Clinton. Congresswoman Comstock won 80% over Luann Bennett. Barry Deuel won 60% over John “David” Smith Jr.