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McAuliffe praises vocation ed during Germanna visit

Terry McAuliffe speaks with Bob Sherman, Germanna’s career and business coordinator. (DONNIE JOHNSTON)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who says he is an ardent supporter of vocational education, got a firsthand look at Germanna Community College’s Culpeper campus Thursday, and walked away impressed.

“Community colleges like this can turn out 500 or 600 people who can immediately go to work,” McAuliffe said following an hour tour guided by Germanna president David Sam and several members of Sam’s staff. “Education is never an expense; it is an investment.”

The Democratic candidate seemed especially impressed with a robotics class (begun last summer) that better acquaints students as young as 12 with advanced computer technology.

McAuliffe said he felt that Germanna’s close working relationship with area businesses and industries was a key to helping get underemployed and unemployed Virginians retrained and back into good jobs.

“Vocational education is a huge focus for me,” McAuliffe said in an interview after the tour.

The Fairfax resident and businessman added that economic development and job creation would be top priorities if he is elected governor.

McAuliffe said that unlike Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, considered the favorite to be the Republican candidate, he is trying to pull all Virginians back into a single group.

“We can’t divide folks; we have to unite them,” McAuliffe said.

The Democratic hopeful, who has endorsed the General Assembly’s latest transportation revenue bill, said he would attempt to steer a bipartisan course—especially regarding two issues—if sent to the governor’s mansion.

“I’ll work with anybody—all day and all night—on jobs and economic development,” McAuliffe said.

He also promised Sam that he would do as much as possible to cut the red tape that the college president and Culpeper entrepreneur Joe Daniel said sometimes gets in their way. The college’s Daniel Center in Culpeper is named for the entrepreneur.

Daniel said he never saw a governor during the seven years he served on the Virginia Community College Board, and complained that it took Germanna 18 months to get permission to put a sign and lights on its Culpeper building.

“Give me some flexibility,” Sam told McAuliffe.

If elected, the candidate said he would.

Donnie Johnston: