Perriello seeks to take Fifth District seat

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By Tom Wilmoth

Tom Perriello is hoping to bring the values taught to him at an early age to the service of those in the Fifth District ? values which include "to those whom much is given, much is expected."

Perriello is set to run as the Democratic candidate against Rep. Virgil Goode, who was first elected to the House from the Fifth District in 1996. He believes the seat, which has been firmly held by Goode ever since, is up for grabs this year.

"It is a time for a politics of right and wrong, not right and left," Perriello stated during a recent visit to the area, adding that he believes Americans "are hungering for a new generation of leaders who focus on results instead of partisanship."

He believes the Fifth District can be strong, "but only if we get the leadership to make that happen."

While previous attempts to unseat Goode have failed, Perriello says he is running "a totally different campaign that this district has ever seen before." He said the district is in play this year and he has been able to raise more funds to finance the campaign than have been raised before. He is working to establish "the largest grassroots effort this district has ever seen."

He said the question is not whether Goode is a good person, but whether "he's a good or bad congressman."

On that question, Perriello said Goode has come up short. "He's considered one of the least effective members of Congress," Perriello said of his upcoming opponent, stating Goode has failed to bring jobs and economic growth to the district.

Perriello has a law degree from Yale University and says his work overseas has given him a distinct insight into foreign policy.

An Albemarle County native, Perriello said he has worked on security strategies in Afghanistan and Kosovo, prosecuted warlords in Sierra Leone, and developed alternative peace strategies to curb acts of genocide in Darfur. Perriello said he has also worked to expand the faith and values discourse in our country through his role as a co-founder of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and FaithfulAmerica.org.environmental stewardship and to find responsible solutions in Iraq.

He said Goode has supported a foreign policy that "has undermined our military and made us less safe."

Perriello said progress is possible through hard work, "even in government, even in politics."

Waging the war in Iraq was a mistake "by all the people who had their finger on the button to vote" on that policy decision, Perriello said, adding that the solution in that country must be political instead of through military action.

His Catholic faith has helped shape his mindset, including "faith without deeds is dead."

As of the middle of last month, Perriello's campaign had raised $263,802.

"I want to restore the founding American value that we are better off when we are in this together," said Perriello. "The strong support we've received is a reflection that Virginians are hungry for a new generation of results-oriented leadership that focuses on right and wrong instead of right and left."

Perriello finished the year with $243,644 cash on-hand. The only other opponent in the primary race has withdrawn, making Perriello the de facto Democratic nominee. The Perriello campaign has already logged more than 900 volunteer hours, and is now hiring regional field directors throughout the district.