On October 13, 2010, over 40 Veterans and residents of Virginia Beach got the opportunity to meet candidates for Virginia Beach City Council and Virginia's 2nd Congressional District during a “Veterans’ Meet the Candidates Night” sponsored by Virginia Beach Post 110 of The American Legion in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Candidates were available in a relaxed, informal environment that afforded veterans and candidates the opportunity to discuss policies, and become better educated to make a more informed decision regarding who they'll vote for on November 2nd. “We wanted to have a 'Meet and Greet' styled event, not a moderated debate, town hall meeting, or other formal proceeding,” said post commander Wes Latchford. “Our goal was to provide a forum where candidates and Veterans could talk in a cordial, non-partisan climate. One where candidates got the opportunity to hear first-hand the concerns of Veterans in Virginia Beach and the 2nd Congressional District, and where Veterans had the opportunity to meet their candidates one-on-one.”
Virginia Beach Post 110 got the idea to host its voter awareness event after it became aware of global voter participation statistics that ranked the United States well outside the top 100 internationally for voter turnout in non-presidential elections. Latchford points out that, “In 1920, when The American Legion had been in existence barely one year, it took on the challenge to get Americans to the polls to vote on Election Day to combat what it saw was a growing apathy among Americans about their government. Fast forward some 90 years later to 2010, and we continue to face those same challenges today.”
Invitations were mailed to all congressional and city council candidates listed with the Virginia State Board of Elections, and the event was open to all Veterans and voters, not just members of Virginia Beach Post 110. "It was a great turnout which we were pleased to be able to faciltate," Latchford said.