Anthony Flaccavento, Democratic candidate in Virginia’s 9th Congressional District, won the stump speech contest finals held on the final day of the Democratic Candidates Conference (DemCanCon). The winner was determined by a poll of conference attendees, and the winning candidate received a $1,000 campaign contribution from Conference Organizer Andy Millard.
The contest was the culmination of three days of personal speech coaching lead by Josh Nanberg of Ampersand Strategies. Candidates presented their speeches to a panel of judges who offered feedback and tips for improvement.
The other finalists were Marques Dent, candidate for Maryland House of Delegates in Baltimore, and MeChelle Callen, running for Indiana State Legislature District 40.
Each speech had its own strengths. Marques went first, sharing his experience with the local school system, his military service, the high incarceration rate in Baltimore City, his real-life efforts to train and employ at-risk youth. He painted a heartbreaking picture of homeless children arriving to school every day in a cab provided by the city, parents and grandparent losing children to violence, and his plans for new funding and programs to reverse the trends. His speech lasted 5 minutes.
Anthony described his small business of “building better, healthier communities from the bottom-up.” He stated his purpose of leveling the playing field for the people of his district, lambasting the system of giving more and more to those that need it least. He put it simply: “Trickle-down don’t.” He went on to describe his past efforts to help working folks in his district. He advocated “investing public resources in the public.” His speech lasted 3 minutes 25 seconds.
MeChelle's speech focused on kitchen-table issues in her Indiana county: she promised to invest in children and schools, workforce training to adapt to Indiana’s changing economy, and the opioid epidemic. Her speech lasted 7 minutes 10 seconds.
Congratulations to all participants, and a huge thank-you to Josh Nanberg and his team of coaches, as well as all our great speakers and sponsors.
Andy Millard is the conference organizer for the Democratic candidates conference. His eclectic background includes roles as an educator, small business owner, financial planner, author, event planner and congressional candidate.