The Democratic candidate for the 5th District congressional seat Josh Throneburg expressed his concerns about the country’s future with Buford Middle School eighth graders.
“I’m more nervous about all of you than I am the election,” Throneburg said.
“We’ve never had a congressional candidate come before,” said civics teacher Matt Resnick. He and Buford’s other civics teacher, Mike Schafer, planned Throneburg’s visit.
“I also emailed Congressman Bob Good’s campaign and at one point they did ask for some details, but I never heard back, unfortunately,” Resnick said.
Throneburg spoke before a crowd of about 50 kids, all of them students in Resnick’s and Schafer’s classes. Their questions ranged from his opinion on Governor Glenn Youngkin’s model policies to whether he was nervous about the Nov. 8 election.
Students wanted to know why Throneburg decided to run for Congress.
“I want to make sure you guys have a future that is healthy and exciting and happy,” Throneburg said.
He wants to ensure a healthy future for young people by investing in renewable energy and funding education.
“As a congressman, I would have the opportunity to vote to increase some of that funding in the public schools,” Throneburg said. Currently, the federal government provides 7.9% of funding for public K-12 education, according to the research organization Education Data Initiative.
“My opponent actually wants to kill the Department of Education, because he’s trying to move away from public schools. I think we should actually be increasing our investments in public schools,” Throneburg said.
In 2020, the incumbent candidate Bob Good said he supported eliminating the federal government’s involvement in education.
Good has sponsored the CHOICE Act, which would allow low-income families to use federal education funds to homeschool children. Critics say such a measure would effectively defund public schools; supporters say it would promote new educational opportunities for poor children.
Students asked Throneburg for his opinion on Youngkin’s model policies, which restrict transgender students’ rights. A little more than a month ago, about 100 Buford students walked out of their classes to protest the new guidance.
“I think Governor Youngkin’s laws don’t bring people in, they push people out,” Throneburg said. “So I don’t like a lot of his suggestions.”
Throneburg supports federal protections for LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups.
“Anytime we have a vulnerable population, our immediate thought should be, ‘How do we protect them?’” Throneburg said. “The fact that we have so many political leaders who seem to be ignoring that and legislating against them, I think, is ridiculous.”
Gun violence was also at the forefront of students’ minds. On Oct. 20, someone called Charlottesville police about a possible active shooter on Buford’s campus. The call resulted in an hour-long lockdown; there were no shots fired at the school. The hoax call was the second the school had suffered in a month.
“You’re dealing with a lot of stuff that I didn’t have to deal with as a kid. We didn’t have school lockdowns,” Throneburg said. He supports “common sense” gun reforms, like requiring guns to be kept in a safe and preventing violent offenders from owning firearms.
“What I don’t like is how Republicans and Democrats fight about this issue all the time, rather than actually doing something helpful for all of you,” Throneburg said.
Throneburg also disclosed that he has received very little funding from the Democratic Party and political action committees. Throneburg’s campaign has raised a little more than $815,000, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Most of that has come from individual donors, who cannot contribute more than $2,900.
“I think the strategy was ‘Protect what we have, don’t take new ground,’” Throneburg said. “We have three Democratic representatives in the state of Virginia who are in tough races, and they’re already in office.”
Students wondered why Throneburg wanted to run against Bob Good.
“One of the things you can do if you’re a congressman is you can get money from the government and bring it back to the district,” Throneburg said. “Guess how many dollars Bob Good has brought back to our district?”
“Zero!” students answered.
“If you don’t do good in your job, what happens? You get fired.”