Wexton, Cao Face Off in First Forum, Hosted by Arc

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10) and her challenger in the November election, Hung Cao, participated in their first public forum Monday night sharing their experience, plans and promises with hosts the Arc of Northern Virginia, a nonprofit supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

They shared the virtual stage with the competitors in the seventh congressional district, incumbent Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-7) and Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega (R-Coles), along with live sign language interpretation.

And the candidates were reminded by Conner Cummings, son of Arc Board of Directors member Sharon Cummings, to keep it civil.

“I am a self advocate and proud to be autistic. Please remember that this is a sensory-friendly forum. This is not a debate,” he said. “Talk about what you can do and have done for all individuals and all families with all disabilities. Please do not speak bad about each other, speak good about yourself.”

Wexton pointed to her long experience working with people with disabilities in her legal career and on the Loudoun Community Services Board, and her advocacy the state and federal legislatures since. Cao said the country needs to “push through all this bureaucracy and help those who need it most” and said he would listen to the disability community, as well as pointing to his family’s nonprofit that made beeping Easter eggs for blind children.

Moderator Lucy Beadnell, director of advocacy at Arc of Northern Virginia, put questions to the candidates around the particular challenges faced by people with disabilities, such as the asset limits for Supplemental Security Income, a Social Security program that supports low-income people who are blind or disabled. The program disqualifies people with assets including cash, stocks, land, vehicles and property worth more than $2,000 for a single person or $3,000 for a married couple—a limit Beadnell said hasn’t changed since 1989.

“You can tell a lot about a country by how it treats the most vulnerable, and I think unfortunately in terms of the SSI we have been lacking,” Wexton said. She said she supports raising the limits to $10,000 for an individual and $20,000 for a couple eliminating the marriage “penalty,” and indexing the asset cap to inflation going forward. She also raised her concerns with the Medicaid personal needs allowance for Medicaid-funded people in nursing homes.

“Everybody who is on Medicaid in a facility only gets to keep about $30 a month for their personal needs. This includes everything—having to get adult diapers on your own, having to get a cell phone so you can communicate with your family, having to get a haircut or toiletries,” she said.

Cao said raising the asset limits “seems like a no-brainer, and I honestly don’t see why it’s not done yet.”

“Yes, we will be doing this, and we will get this changed. This is a no-brainer. We should have taken care of this a long time ago,” he said.

Beadnell also asked about the low pay for home caregivers, who she said often have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Wexton said “the biggest thing we can do is pay someone a living wage,” pointing to successful Democratic legislation to raise the minimum wage. She said low pay also endangers those people and the people they care for, as they’re forced to choose between missing work or possibly going to work sick.

“This is just a matter of making it a priority to make these investments, and this is one thing congressional Democrats have been trying to do for a long time,” she said.

Cao said during the pandemic, he was not able to reach his ailing father when “the government just arbitrarily shut down our entire country,” and argued “we really need to just get government out of the way and let the free market work itself out.”

“We have a workforce now that’s used to just staying at home and getting stimulus checks not working,” he said. “The work ethic in our community is just gone, and we need to reinvigorate it.”

In response to a question about disproportionate arrests and incarceration of people with disabilities, Cao pointed to Loudoun Sheriff Mike Chapman’s programs to train all deputies in dealing with people with mental health needs, as well as Crisis Intervention Training.

“It’s leaders like this at the lower level, at the community level, that we need to lean on,” Cao said. “… As congressman I want to be able to listen to them and see what they need to give them the support they need. I know some of these sheriffs are yearning to talk to the representatives, they haven’t heard from them in two and a half years.”

Wexton also applauded the widespread adoption of Crisis Intervention Training, hearkening back to her service on the Community Services Board after seeing how the criminal justice system was disproportionately filled with people with disabilities and mental health issues, and pointing to American Rescue Plan Act funding to support programs like it. She also raised the school-to-prison pipeline.

“The worst thing for a kid … that maybe doesn’t communicate the way other kids do is to be placed in handcuffs and thrown in the back of a squad car, which is why we need the training to start a lot earlier for things like [School Resource Officers],” she said. “… It’s a continuum. You can’t just start when the kids are adults. You have to start when they’re young and just make sure that everybody is aware of the issues.”

And Beadnell asked the candidates about their views on the barriers to employment for people with disabilities, and the exception to minimum wage that allows some people with development disabilities to be paid less than minimum wage. Wexton said that minimum wage loophole should be closed, and said supporting implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will go a long way toward helping. That legislation among other things provides for adult education and literacy programs, job training services, and supports employment and independent living for people with disabilities. That includes

Cao said in Congress he would tackle those issues and providing those jobs “right away.”

“Maybe it’s a mundane task that others don’t want to do, but for certain members of our community maybe that’s what they thrive in,” he said.

Wexton said her first meeting on entering Congress was with the Little Lobbyists, a group advocating for children with medical needs and disabilities, “because that concept of ‘nothing about us without us’ is really important to me.”

“That’s why I ran for Congress, because I wanted to be a voice for the voiceless,” she said, and pledged to “continue to be an advocate for you as I have been before.”

Cao thanked forum organizers and participants for “making me smarter on these issues.”

“You want a voice, right, you want to be heard. And you can’t be heard if government shuts down, Cao said. He said he plans to be available to constituents to listen.

Questions submitted in the Zoom webinar and on Facebook during the live broadcast would be sent to the candidates after the forum, Beadnell said. She reminded viewers of some resources available to them to learn about voting rights and accessibility, including by calling the Election Protection coalition at 866-OUR-VOTE to ask about voting rights, and 800-949-4232 to speak to Americans with Disabilities Act National Network, find a local ADA center and learn about voting accommodations.

This year’s November general election will be Nov. 8. The first day of in-person early voting at the registrar’s office is Sept. 23, and in-person early voting will end Nov. 5 at 5 p.m. The deadline to register to vote in this November’s election is Oct. 17.

In addition to the House of Representatives election, there will elections for mayor and town council in the towns of Hamilton, Leesburg, Purcellville and Lovettsville, a special election for a seat on the Round Hill Town Council, and special elections for the Leesburg and Broad Run district seats on the Loudoun County School Board.

See a recording of the full forum at Facebook.com/TheArcofNoVA.

This article was updated Aug. 25 at 2:27 p.m. to correct some spellings of a name.

23 thoughts on “Wexton, Cao Face Off in First Forum, Hosted by Arc

  • 2022-08-24 at 6:46 pm
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    I can’t say I’m a fan of Hung Cao. He simply doesn’t do his research before running his mouth. For instance, he gave an interview to the National Review. He explained how he brought JFK Jr.’s body from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Then he referred to the iconic image of John-John saluting his father’s coffin. Hung Cao said the coffin was passing by when John-John saluted it. That’s not true. The coffin was stationary at the time. Please do your research before talking about the Kennedys, Mr. Cao!

    • 2022-08-25 at 11:56 am
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      I just have to laugh when I read that your biggest concern with Hung Cao (R) is that he, according to you, may have possibly misstated something trivial about an event which occurred nearly a decade before he was born and nearly two decades prior to his arrival in the US.

      JFK’s casket was carried in front of the family from the Cathedral and put onto the caisson. There’s film of the event, and from what I have seen there’s no way to know whether the casket was in motion or stationary at that exact moment in time. And really, who cares?

      If that’s the best (worst) criticism you have, then I look at it as an endorsement of the man’s candidacy.

      Hung Cao will be a good representative for the 10th District of Virginia. A welcome change from Nancy Pelosi’s lap dog.

    • 2022-08-25 at 12:17 pm
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      The photo was taken by Stan Stern. The following was taken from a 2012 article in the NY Times. It certainly sounds like the person who took the picture said the casket was moving.

      “Cordoned with a horde of photographers across from the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington that day, Mr. Stearns trained his lens on Jacqueline Kennedy as the coffin neared. She bent toward John Jr. It was his third birthday. She whispered something. And, suddenly, the boy raised his right arm.”

      ““The hand went up. Click — one exposure,” Mr. Stearns told The New York Times in 2007. “That was it. That was the picture.”

      • 2022-08-26 at 10:08 am
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        Turtle, the casket was stationary. It had just been strapped in to the gun carriage. CBS News video of JFK’s funeral clearly shows this. The video is available on YouTube for all to see. Please stop trying to rewrite history. Happy Women’s Equality Day Loudoun!

        • 2022-08-26 at 9:08 pm
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          Tmmy – considering I provided a quote from the man taking the picture I feel comfortable history was already written. We get it you won’t vote for a single Republican. At least be honest about it and stop being a coward.

          • 2022-08-28 at 2:15 pm
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            Turtle, here’s Mr. Stearns’ exact quote: “The hand went up. Click — one exposure. That was it. That was the picture.” Where does he saying anything about the casket being in motion? Hung Cao described a scenario that never happened. Then he had the audacity to say: “[E]very American remembers that.” How can we remember a non-existent occurrence? I’m afraid he’s not leadership material. I’m for Jennifer Wexton!

          • 2022-08-29 at 8:45 am
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            Anyone standing to Chairman Mao or Joseph Stalin’s right is too far right for tim.

    • 2022-08-25 at 2:21 pm
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      Maybe you should do some research. The coffin WAS passing by as it was being loaded onto the caisson.

    • 2022-08-26 at 11:11 am
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      Finally we have a new conspiracy to displace the “Grassy Knoll” conspiracy that has plagued the JFK assassination for decades.

  • 2022-08-25 at 6:47 am
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    Speaking of Wexton deplorable photoshoots, on Twitter Wexton is promoting Teds pharmacy, the Ted Pharmacy that gave adult doses of covid 19 vaccine to children, over 100 children. What safeguards have they instituted to make sure this never happens again. Maybe Wexton’s office or Loudoun Now can do a follow up with the parents and children about the effects.

    • 2022-08-26 at 9:06 am
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      If that’s your biggest beef with Wexton, she must be doing a pretty good job. I’m voting for her again and happy to do it.

      • 2022-08-26 at 3:36 pm
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        So you like inflation, kids dying from drugs form the border, gay nonsense, failing schools…
        Hung Cao devoted his life to his countrymen and the other devoted her life to politics, see the difference.
        What was Jennys worth when she was elected and what is it now. Maybe the IRS she voted for can tell us!

      • 2022-08-26 at 7:54 pm
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        My biggest beef is that she votes party lines regardless of all else.

        That seems to be the case for every incumbent. I won’t vote for a single incumbent regardless of party.

  • 2022-08-25 at 12:40 pm
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    It seems to me that 90% of Mr. Cao’s campaign is built around his military career. Even his campaign signs are printed in military stencil with an apparent gun sight as the background. He says “this is a no brainer”, but he does not understand the issues nor understand how his party actually votes on them. Yes Mr. Cao, we want your brain engaged.

    I say, take him at his word. He is anti-LGBT, anti-choice, pro-gun, and pretty much shouts that he is authoritarian with his continuous military references. How can we support someone who seems to be pretty much a “Christian” authoritarian?

    • 2022-08-26 at 6:28 pm
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      A military record to be proud of that is for sure.
      How did you jump from anti-lgbt when even Equality Loudoun booted the “T”,
      Cao is for life, that is the choice the other is neglectful behavior,
      guns provided for our constitutional republic to endure so far.
      Quantum leaps, you should be a gymnast.

      • 2022-08-26 at 9:20 pm
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        When you mistake Christian conservative for authoritarian you could be the boot heel!

        • 2022-08-29 at 12:03 pm
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          You sure bring a lot of confusion into a discussion. Cao clearly states his beliefs on his campaign web page. He emphasizes military authority. It’s pretty clear that he wants to impose his right wing Christian beliefs on people. Yah, that’s Christian authoritarianism.

          Not all fascists are Nazi’s. Franco ruled Spain under a fascist regime in partnership with the Catholic Church for 35 years. Christian Fascism exists. It’s just that you’re so sure you’re right that you don’t see it that way.

  • 2022-08-25 at 2:43 pm
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    “That’s why I ran for Congress, because I wanted to be a voice for the voiceless,” she said,”

    Nonsense; Wexton works for one person; The Speaker of the House. Wexton could care less about the people of the 10th. Her policy votes prove it; 40 year high inflation, higher electricity and gas prices, shortages at the store, increased taxes, and further pain and reduced quality of life for Loudoun families.

    With Wexton, it’s political party first — political party always.

    • 2022-08-29 at 9:13 am
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      Unfortunately the “party first” mentality will hold true for a lot of people, and the most adherent people get upset when their supposed party members fail to vote the party line. It’s one thing when the district they purportedly represent wants them to do that… but it’s another when they are voting against the interest of that district or what their constituents tell them, if they even bother to listen to ALL of their constituents rather than just the ones who agree with them.

      There is a recent article in the New York Post that talks about how much of the middle class is waking up to their being squeezed by the coastal elite leftists like Jennifer Wexton. These coastal elites “know” what is “best” for us and will do everything in their power to force it down our throats. They make it sound like if you do not have a college degree you are worthless. They stick the federal government into the middle of everything… especially where it is rather explicit in the Constitution that it is reserved to the states. The people are waking up to the hypocrisy of the coastal elite leftists. The real question is, can they do enough about it to save this country from descending into the very thing that we had been fighting for nearly a century?

      Turns out that Senator Joe McCarthy was right. His methods left a lot to be desired.

  • 2022-08-27 at 9:27 am
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    Please stop contributing to partisan distraction games. Were you represented on FEDERAL ISSUES or not? Did your representative speak for you? Was there a meeting of federal transport planners with Maryland and Virginia planners to resolve the interstate issues causing Route 15 north of Leesburg extreme traffic conditions? WHY NOT? Was there an objection to giving up Bagram Air base to Taliban? Why not? Was there an objection to not enforcing federal laws in place to protect supreme court justices? Was there an objection to having an open border allowing unvaccinated, unmasked illegals to enter the USA to get free housing, medical and education? Why not? Why wasn’t there an objection to the federal reserve pumping $120 billion per month into M2 as late as March 2022 given Congress is responsible for currency under article 1 section 8? Why not? Why is Yucca Mountain highly hazardous storage site still closed yet no concern by “ANY” of our federal representatives???????? Wake up and VOTE!

  • 2022-09-15 at 8:34 am
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    In May of 2021 Wexton was notably weakened by some malady, I myself was able to see it in person. Now she has proven to be susceptible to Covid in spite of being vaccinated, boosted, masked, social distanced, and avoiding in person town halls with the public, this is another ploy to avoid being questioned in person by moderators, the public or Hung Cao. She had 9 virtual events scheduled for September and 1 event she was going to attend in person. Deja vu, Wexton hammered Comstock for not meeting with the public when she ran against her, shoe is on the other foot, and she hides in her basement.

  • 2022-09-28 at 11:18 am
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    Its very evident from the article and some of the comments here that Hung Cao is woefully unprepared and uniformed about the issues, and Wexton is more on top of them. Is that a reason to not vote for him? I’d say no because a vote for Wexton is a vote for the radical socialist agenda that Biden is implementing because he can’t stand up to these leftists. A vote for Wexton means declining 401k values, higher gas prices, inflation and crime because the Democrats oppose the police. Oh sure, there is federal money for more policing but around the country, including Virginia, Democrats have told police to not do their jobs, or have elected prosecutors like Buta Biberaj in Loudoun who won’t enforce the law. Please vote

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