By Progress Virginia
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Election Day is Tuesday, November 5th
The Progressive Voters Guide compiles the information that allows you to make informed decisions about the races on your ballot, based on your values. Vote in every race on your ballot! It's our right and our responsibility. Please share this guide with your friends and family.
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below State Senate races on your ballot.
Incumbent Senator Lynwood Lewis’s family has lived in Virginia for three generations. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Hamden-Sydney College and a law degree from the University of Richmond. He now lives and practices law in Accomack County.
Senator Lewis was elected to the House of Delegates in 2003 and the state Senate in 2014. Senator Lewis has supported raising the minimum wage and voted to expand Medicaid in Virginia. He has co-sponsored bills that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He has supported reproductive rights while in office. Senator Lewis has voted for common sense gun violence prevention measures. He has also supported family friendly policies like expanding access to paid sick days and paid family and medical leave.
His opponent, Republican Elizabeth Lankford, is a small business owner who lives on the Eastern Shore. Little information is publicly available about her policy positions or campaign platform.
Senator Lewis is the more progressive choice in this race.
Delegate Cheryl Turpin is a high school science teacher in Virginia Beach. She received her undergraduate degree from Virginia Commonwealth University before earning a graduate degree from the University of Richmond. Turpin was elected to the House of Delegates in 2017 and is now running for the state Senate seat vacated by Republican Senator Frank Wagner.
During her time in the House, Turpin voted to expand Medicaid and raise wages for teachers across Virginia. She opposed legislation designed to scapegoat immigrant communities. She supports expanding clean energy options and ensuring all students have access to quality education. She has sponsored legislation to add sexual orientation and gender identity to Virginia’s hate crimes statute.
Her opponent, Republican Jen Kiggans, is a Navy veteran and nurse practitioner. She is anti-choice and has been vocal in her stance against abortion. She opposes gun violence prevention measures.
Cheryl Turpin is the progressive choice in this race.
Democrat Missy Cotter Smasal, a Navy veteran, lives in Virginia Beach with her family. She earned her graduate degree from Old Dominion University while on active duty. Cotter Smasal coaches youth sports and serves on the executive board of her local Parent Teacher Association.
Cotter Smasal supports redistricting reform and ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. She also supports expanding affordable, accessible healthcare to all Virginians.
Her opponent, incumbent Republican Senator Bill DeSteph, voted against Medicaid expansion and against raising the minimum wage. He has repeatedly voted for legislation that restricts voting rights. He is anti-choice and voted for legislation to end state funding for abortions. He is supportive of discrimination on the basis of religion, and has voted for bills that scapegoat immigrant communities.
Missy Cotter Smasal in the more progressive choice.
There is minimal information available about Democratic candidate Rebecca Raveson. She has no website, Twitter account, or campaign Facebook page.
Incumbent Republican John Cosgrove has been consistently anti-choice. He voted against funding for reproductive healthcare and to require unnecessary ultrasounds before abortion. He is against our immigrant communities, having voted against the formation of sanctuary cities, and supports discrimination on the basis of religion. He opposed the ratification of the ERA and is staunchly against gun violence prevention.
House of Delegates
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below House of Delegate races on your ballot.
Incumbent Delegate Kelly Convirs-Fowler (D) was elected to the House of Delegates in 2017. As Delegate, she has advocated for gun violence prevention, affordable healthcare access, and increased pay for teachers and investments in public schools. She is outspoken in her support for ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. Delegate Convirs-Fowler is pro-choice and believes that everyone should be able to access abortion, regardless of zip code, race, or income level. She also voted for Medicaid expansion. Delegate Convirs-Fowler supports green jobs and renewable energy and has pledged not to take money from Dominion Energy. She lives in Virginia Beach with her husband and two children.
Her opponent, Republican Shannon Kane, is currently a member of the Virginia Beach City Council. She is anti-immigrant, anti-choice, and anti-gun violence prevention. She supports right-to-work laws that benefit corporations at the expense of working people.
Delegate Convirs-Fowler is the more progressive choice in this race.
Democratic candidate Lenard Myers began his legal career as a prosecutor but now fights for clients as a successful consumer rights lawyer throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is also an officer in the Virginia Defense Force, an integral component of the Virginia National Guard.
Myers is an outspoken advocate for sensible gun laws. His campaign focuses on bringing more jobs to the Commonwealth, providing accessible healthcare, prioritizing education and fighting flooding through strong environmental policies.
Republican incumbent Delegate Barry Knight was elected a member of the Virginia House of Delegates in a special election in 2009. He does not support sensible gun laws and voted to prohibit sanctuary cities in Virginia.
Lenard Myers is the more progressive choice in this race.
In 2013, Democratic candidate Gayle Johnson built the first net zero energy home in Virginia Beach to inspire others to invest in energy efficient building. After graduating from Oberlin, she founded and led Capriole, a baroque music ensemble, which became an internationally acclaimed Ensemble in Residence at William and Mary and Old Dominion University.
Johnson’s campaign platform is focused on building a sustainable future built on common sense policy, high quality jobs, and a fair and just political system. She vows to address the flooding and sea level rise occurring in Hampton Roads.
Incumbent Republican Delegate Jason Miyares was elected a member of the Virginia House of Delegates in 2015. Miyares supports legislation that hinders the reproductive rights of Virginians. He he voted prohibit the usage of state funds on abortion and against expanding Medicaid in Virginia. He also supported a bill that would prohibit sanctuary cities in Virginia.
Gayle Johnson is the more progressive choice in this race.
Democratic candidate Nancy Guy graduated from the College of William and Mary with a B.A. in Government and earned her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. Guy successfully battled breast cancer in 2012 and 2013, and since then, she has dedicated herself to her community. She served two terms on the School Board, the Board of WHRO public radio station, and the Board of the Southeastern Cooperative Educational Program. She also served for 12 years on the Virginia Education Foundation Board and two terms as President of the PTSA at Virginia Beach’s largest high school.
Guy’s platform includes fighting for more education funding by raising teacher pay and funding the Literacy Fund. She also wants to pass common sense gun violence prevention.Guy is pro-choice and believes that a person’s medical decisions should be between them and their doctor.
Incumbent Republican Delegate Christopher Stolle was elected into office in 2009. Stolle refuses to support sensible gun laws and has voted against bills that provide funding for Virginians to access abortion.
Nancy Guy is the more progressive choice in this race.
Democratic candidate Karen Mallard has served the Virginia Beach community as a public school teacher, union leader, political organizer, PTA board member, and little league board member. Mallard was outraged when House Republicans voted to adjourn a special session on gun violence without considering a single bill. She vows to support Medicaid expansion and has organized for environmental preservation in Virginia since childhood.
Her opponent, incumbent Republican Delegate Glenn Davis, has opposed efforts to make Virginia safer by implementing common sense gun laws. Delegate Davis also supported legislation that sought to notify ICE whenever undocumented residents were imprisoned, giving local law enforcement agents unecessary additonal work.
Mallard is the more progressive choice in this race.
Democratic candidate Alex Askew was born and raised in Virginia Beach and attended Hampton University. After graduating, he worked for nearly seven election cycles on a variety of local, state-wide, and national campaigns and projects. His campaign priorities are education, healthcare, and the environment.
Askew believes that we must improve our public education system by providing teachers and parents with adequate resources to help our children succeed.He supports increasing the salary of teachers, providing affordable and quality healthcare, and protecting Medicaid expansion in Virginia. He also believes that we must pass legislation to guarantee that our coastlines are permanently protected from offshore drilling and large polluters.
Republican Rocky Holcomb was previously a member of the General Assembly but lost in 2017 to Delegate Cheryl Turpin, who is now running for the state Senate.During his time in the General Assembly, Holcomb opposed Medicaid expansion and voted against legislation to protect those with pre-existing conditions. Holcomb also voted to prohibit the establishment of sanctuary cities in Virginia.
Incumbent Democratic Delegate Joe Lindsey is a personal injury, family law, criminal defense, and business attorney. He was born in Norfolk, Virginia, was an honor graduate of Hampton Institute, and earned his law degree from Washington College of Law, American University, in Washington, DC.
Delegate Lindsey supported legislation to end unlawful discriminatory housing practices. He also supported numerous gun violence prevention bills including one which made it mandatory to notify law enforcement about lost or stolen guns. Delegate Lindsey is an avid supporter of reproductive rights and voted to expand Medicaid access to 400,000 low income Virginians.
Even though he is running unopposed, Delegate Lindsey is the more progressive choice in this race.
Democratic candidate Phil Hernandez, an attorney, was raised in Hampton Roads by a single mom. He went to public schools and then to the College of William and Mary, becoming the first in his family to graduate from college.
He has spent the years since fighting for the rights of working people around the country. Hernandez vows to ease the burden of student loan debt and protect borrowers from abusive lending practices. He plans to champion policies that reduce harmful pollution in our air and water, improve coastal resilience, and create new jobs and industries in clean energy technology. He has pledged support for the Equal Rights Amendment and policies that build a more inclusive future, including the areas of housing, employment, and voting rights.
Incumbent Republican Delegate Robert Bloxom fought for increased car inspections fees. He has opposed reproductive rights. Even though he sponsored legislation to give driver's licenses to immigrants, he voted to prohibit sanctuary cities (cities with municipal laws designed to protect immigrants) in Virginia. He also voted to restrict access to safe and legal abortions.
Hernandez is the progressive choice in this race.
Guy Tower has lived in Virginia since 1979. He started in Virginia Beach in 1979, and has been in the Beach District since 2014. Tower is a retired lawyer, mediator, and educator. His partner for the past three decades is a retired judge of the Virginia Beach Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court, and they have four children.
Tower was appointed to serve as an interim member until the special election this November. If elected to continue his service, he wants to ensure the safety of the residents. One of his priorities is restructuring the funds for stormwater. Tower also believes in transparency and equity. He wants to ensure that residents from every demographic and neighborhood have the opportunity to succeed through fair hiring practices and contracting.
Richard Kowalewitch is one of Tower’s opponents. Kowalewitch believes that crime is the biggest threat to the county, and more police officers will eliminate the issue. Kowalewitch is a proud supporter of President Trump.
Rosemary Wilson is also running. Wilson objected to Colin Kaepernick's protests to draw attention to the treatment of Black Americans, calling it a "disrespect" and "an embarrassment." She aligns with the other candidates in her concern about the environment but she fails to hold equity and inclusion as similarly important. Wilson’s website addresses gun violence, but her solution revolves around increased funding for police rather than pushing for common sense gun laws.
Tower is the most progressive choice for this race.
Michael Berlucchi was born in Virginia Beach, and has spent a majority of his life there. He is currently the Community Engagement Manager at the Chrysler Museum of Art. Berlucchi is an LGBTQ activist, and received an OUTstanding Virginians award from Equality Virginia in 2018. Berlucchi is for clean energy usage. He wants to increase access to mental health services, and wants to be equitable to all of the tourists that visit the area.
Conrad Schesventer is Berlucchi’s opponent. Schesventer has similar goals around funding for flood precaution and public safety, but Berlucchi focuses more on inclusion. Schesventer’s platform focuses on city contracts. He wants to ensure that a larger percentage of the city’s contracts go to minorities. Berlucchi’s platform talks about both residents and visitors of Virginia Beach, regardless of what they look like or where they come from, feeling included and welcomed. Berlucchi also emphasizes his desire to ensure that they all have access to quality education.
Berlucchi is the more progressive choice in this race.
Tina Sinnen has been the Clerk of the Circuit Court in Virginia Beach for the past 16 years, and has been working in the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office for 29 years. Sinnen is listed as an Independent but has been endorsed by the Republican Party of Virginia Beach. After the mass shooting at a city office earlier this year, Sinnen did not call for better gun safety measures, but rather training on how to respond to a shooting.
Sinnen is running unopposed and is not a progressive choice for this race. You always have the option to write in a candidate of your choosing.
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