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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.
Dr. Ghazala Hashmi is an educator and currently serves as the Founding Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning (CETL) at Reynolds Community College. She immigrated to the United States 50 years ago from India. She earned her PhD in English from Emory College before moving to Chesterfield where she has raised her children.
She is an advocate of reproductive rights, renewable energy, and accessible grade school and higher education. Hashmi is vocal about her desire for paid family leave and broadband access for rural communities. If elected, Hashmi would be the first Muslim-American woman in the Virginia state Senate.
Incumbent Republican Senator Glen Sturtevant voted against Medicaid expansion and against raising the minimum wage. As a member of the Courts of Justice committee, he has repeatedly voted against common sense gun violence prevention measures. Senator Sturtevant has introduced legislation to cut taxes for corporations at the expense of working families and repeatedly opposed policies to protect and expand access to abortion.
Ghazala Hashmi is the progressive choice in this race.
General Progressive: Progress Virginia
Amanda Pohl has lived in Virginia for most of her life. She completed seminary at Baptist Theological Seminary and holds a master’s degree in Patient Counseling and Social Work with a focus on Administration, Planning, and Policy Practice from Virginia Commonwealth University.
In her campaign, Pohl has prioritized continuing to expand access to health care in Virginia and investing in public schools. She supports policies to protect LGBTQ Virginians and expand access to reproductive health care. She also supports paid family and medical leave policies. She supports same day voter registration and expanding absentee voting in Virginia.
Her opponent, incumbent Republican Senator Amanda Chase, opposes reproductive rights and common sense gun violence prevention measures. She voted against raising the minimum wage and expanding Medicaid in Virginia. She has come under fire for callous comments about sexual assault and accusations she took advantage of the Capitol Police to chauffeur her to events with lobbyists.
Amanda Pohl is the progressive choice in this race.
Independent candidate Waylin Ross was born and raised in Petersburg. He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science at Old Dominion University. Ross went on to get a graduate degree in public policy from George Mason University. During his time at ODU, he graduated from the Sorensen Institute’s College Leaders Program. Ross is the Founder and first president of ODU's political honor society, Phi Sigma Alpha. Ross previously worked at Northern Virginia Community College teaching both micro and macro economics. During this time, Ross opened his own company, ParaLobby, which gives government support to businesses. In 2015, Ross was appointed by the Governor to the Board for Professional and Occupational Regulation.
Ross supports women and families, and supports the ratification of the ERA. His website also states that he believes in reproductive rights. While he supports the 2nd Amendment, he wants gun safety measures to ensure less violence and lowered recidivism. Ross supports the expansion of Medicaid and wants mental health and addiction services to be readily available to Viriginians. Ross supports at-home monitoring systems for non-violent offenses, which challenges the pre-trial detention system we currently have. He supports automatic rights restoration and Election Day voter registration.
His opponent, Democrat Joseph Morrissey, was a member of the House of Delegates from 2008-2015. Morrissey self-identifies as “pro-life” and has supported anti-choice legislation. This includes supporting legislation that limited state funding for abortion. Morrissey is an attorney whose law license has been suspended multiple times. In 2013, Morrissey was convicted for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He fulfilled his Delegate duties while on work release from the local jail.
Ross is the more progressive choice for this race.
House of Delegates
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below House of Delegate races on your ballot.
Democratic candidate Larry Barnett is a mental health professional who is running for office to expand affordable access to health care. He also supports fully funding our schools and increasing teacher pay. Barnett is in favor of gun violence prevention legislation and increased training for police officers. He supports protecting our environment, keeping our air and water clean, and making investments in renewable energy sources. Barnett believes in equality and that everyone, regardless of race, gender identity, or sexual orientation, should have access to affordable housing, jobs, and safety.
Incumbent Repblican Delegate Roxann Robinson was elected to the House of Delegates in 2010. She is anti-choice and voted to defund Planned Parenthood. She also voted to prohibit sanctuary cities, harming members of the undocumented community. She was a co-sponsor of a bill that prohibited the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces.
Larry Barnett is the more progressive choice in this race because of his support of equality and commitment to fighting for our environment.
Democratic candidate Lindsey Dougherty has committed her life to public service. Dougherty has worked extensively with at-risk youth in the juvenile justice system, partnering with community organizations that help incarcerated youth build both life and job skills. She has worked with state and local governments to increase access to better health through recreation and art. Currently, Dougherty works in the Budget and Management Department as an analyst in Chesterfield County.
Dougherty believes that communities do better when everyone is safe, healthy, and engaged with their neighbors. As Delegate, she would support offering free community college and trade school programs to all in-state students and universal pre-K for all 3 and 4-year-olds. She also supports increasing the minimum wage and increasing teacher pay.
She is running against Republican candidate Carrie Coyner. Coyner is a lawyer who was formerly on the Chesterfield County School Board. Coyner was replaced as the Chesterfield School Board’s representative on the school system’s gifted education advisory committee after making comments critical of Matoaca Middle School’s administration and teachers in the school’s center-based gifted program. Coyner’s campaign focuses on education issues but fails to mention other issues related to healthcare, the economy, and reproductive rights.
Dougherty is the more progressive choice in this race.
Incumbent Democratic Delegate Lashrecse Aird was elected in November 2015 to represent the 63rd District. She holds the special distinction of being the youngest woman ever elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. Delegate Aird is actively engaged in numerous civic boards and organizations. She is Chair of the Petersburg Democratic Committee, Chair of the Petersburg Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Political Awareness and Involvement Committee, and a former member of the Petersburg Planning Commission.
She is a strong progressive champion who supports Medicaid expansion, increased school funding, voting rights, abortion access, and equality for all.
She is opposed by Larry Haake, who is running as an Independent. Haake is a former police officer who served as the Chesterfield County Registrar for 22 years, but not without controversy. In 2004, Haake asked that uniformed police officers be stationed at the county’s 62 polling places. This action drew criticism from Democrats, progressive allies, and the local Muslim community, all stating that the presence of armed officers could intimidate some voters.
Lashrecse Aird is the progressive choice in this race.
Democratic candidate Dr. Mike Asip is a 38-year career special education and middle school leader and ten-year resident of Powhatan County. Dr. Asip vows to advocate for affordable health care, mental health services, and workforce development to expand economic opportunity in his district and across the Commonwealth. He would like to address the inequities of broadband access across the rural parts of the 65th district which limit economic development and educational opportunity in the district.
Dr. Asip is running against incumbent Republican Delegate R. Lee Ware. Delegate Ware has served in the Virginia House of Delegates since 1998. He supported a bill that would allow someone with a protective order against them to carry a concealed weapon. He is also against abortion access and voted to defund Planned Parenthood.
Mike Asip is the more progressive choice in this race because of his commitment to Medicaid expansion and dedication to increasing internet access in rural communities.
Democratic candidate Sheila Bynum-Coleman is a native of Chesterfield County where she attended Monacan High School. Sheila received her B.A. from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. A successful small business owner and community advocate, Bynum-Coleman says she first got involved in politics once her Delegate decided it wasn’t worth his time to discuss her child with special needs. Since then, she has made it her mission to advocate for improved school services for children with learning disabilities.
Bynum-Coleman’s campaign prioritizes gun violence prevention, abortion access, criminal justice reform, equality for LGBTQ people, jobs, education, and the environment.
Her Republican opponent is incumbent Republican Speaker of the House, Kirk Cox. Since he was first elected in 2006, Cox has voted for a number of bills limiting access to higher education and employment for undocumented immigrants. He is also strongly against abortion access and gun violence prevention.
Also in the race is Independent candidate Linnard K. Harris. Harris is a former police officer who has vowed to defend gun owner rights with the exception of assault weapons. He has also expressed his wishes to reform taxes to protect only the middle class.
Because of her strong support for education and public schools and criminal justice reform, Sheila Bynum-Coleman is the more progressive choice in this race.
General Progressive: Progress Virginia
Incumbent Democratic Delegate Dawn Adams is a doctoral prepared nurse practitioner with more than thirty years of diverse clinical and administrative health care experience. She currently resides in Richmond with her partner of over 16 years and their two dogs.
During her time in office, she successfully passed 57% of introduced legislation in 2019.
Delegate Adams’s legislative focus is health care, particularly around issues affecting elderly and vulnerable populations. She also wants to protect and preserve the environment, provide quality affordable education and to create infrastructure toward building healthier communities through better policy.
Her opponent is Republican Garrison Coward. Coward is currently pursuing his MBA. His campaign priorities ignore many issues impacting Virginians. He supports right-to-work laws that hurt unions and the families they are intended to protect.
Delegate Adams is the more progressive choice in this race.
Incumbent Democratic Delegate Delores McQuinn was born in eastern Henrico County, Virginia, where she grew up and attended public schools. She graduated from Highland Springs High School in 1973.Delegate McQuin has lived most of her adult life in Richmond’s Church Hill district where she currently resides. She studied at Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Union University.
Delegate McQuinn organized town meetings on gun violence prevention and proposed bills that sought to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline. She also introduced bills to combat the substance abuse mental health crisis plaguing Virginia.
Delegate McQuinn is running uncontested and is the progressive choice in this race.
Democrat Scott Miles is a Virginia native. Miles received an undergraduate degree from William & Mary. He received a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and has practiced law for 22 years in Virginia. Due to a special election, Miles is currently the Commonwealth's Attorney for Chesterfield County. Miles was previously an active-duty Army at Fort Bragg, NC, and served in combat during Desert Storm in Iraq and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia.
Miles is a current member of the Greater Richmond Criminal Bar Association, the Chesterfield Bar Association, the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Criminal Law Section of the Virginia State Bar. He was previously the President of the Greater Richmond Bar Association, and currently serves as counsel for the membership of the Richmond Coalition of Police.
Miles has run his campaign on criminal justice reform. He wants to reduce the use of cash bail, which has proven to be an unjust tactic of the justice system. Cash bail and pretrial detention essentially incarcerate lower income residents. While awaiting trial, before any sentences or verdicts have been made, the accused can be mandated to sit in jail prior to their hearing if they are unable to pay their bail. He recognizes that the ability to pay bail does not correlate to how dangerous you are. After winning the special election, Miles stated that as an alternative, he would have non-violent offenders agree to return to their court date in writing. Miles wants to end the War on Drugs, acknowledging that treating addiction like a crime affects families and a person’s ability to be successful in the future. He has committed to prosecuting drug related offenses as misdemeanors. Miles has stated that he does not want federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents near courtrooms because they intimidate immigrants in a way that can obstruct justice. Miles also wants to implement more treatment programs within county jails to lower the chances of recidivism. He also wants to appoint prosecutors to support the elderly who have fallen victim to crime.
Stacey Davenport, Miles’ Republican opponent, has worked as a prosecutor, a public defender, and a defense attorney. She has voiced her opposition to the decriminalization of marijuana, stating that the law should not change until the legislature makes marijuana a legal substance, thereby ignoring the racial and socio-economic disparities in arrests and sentencing. Davenport has received financial support from right-wing conservatives including the Speaker of the House of Delegates, Kirk Cox.
Miles is the more progressive choice for this race.
Democratic candidate Michael Jackson holds a Bachelor’s degree in accounting from North Carolina Central University. He has served as a certified fraud examiner for the last 10 years. He currently lives in Chesterfield with his family. He has volunteered for the Special Olympics, as a Little League coach, and as an education advocate. He also is a servant leader in his church.
Jackson was appointed to the Chesterfield Planning Commission in 2016 and elected chairman earlier this year. Jackson sees predatory lending as an important challenge in Chesterfield County. He has also prioritized transparency and financial literacy.He will strive to increase customer service foster a relationship that is built on reliability and fairness.
His opponent is Republican Rebecca Longnaker. Though she is running as an Independent, she has been endorsed by the current Treasurer, who is a proud Republican. Longnaker’s platform does not say anything about equity or community building, nor does she address the need for transparency.
Jackson is the more progressive choice in this race.
Democrat Murti Khan has lived in Chesterfield County for most of his life and attended Virginia Commonwealth University. He has a background in budget and fiscal analysis. Khan is the son of two immigrants and stands for the protection and representation of those communities.
Khan supports public hearing processes and transparency within the government. He has been vocal about his opposition to special treatment of developers in the county and has refused to accept their campaign contributions. He noted, “giving special benefits to the wealthiest in our society while denying citizens basic services is one of the biggest injustices of our time.”
Khan is concerned about environmental protection and opposes landfills in Chesterfield County. He also wants more funding for transportation.
His opponent is Republican Jim Ingle. Ingle’s website claims his priorities are economic development, education, and public safety lacks clear plans to make progress. He has been endorsed by right-wing conservative Kirk Cox, the current Speaker of the House of Delegates.
Murti Khan is the more progressive choice for this race.
Will Ares supports increased teacher pay, mental health services for students, and improved building infrastructure. He also believes in working with local first responders to ensure the safety of students. He would like to increase communication between the school administration and parents. Ares is also concerned that not all schools within Chesterfield County have access to the same technology and wants to work to ensure resources are distributed equitably. Ares is endorsed by the Chesterfield County Democratic Committee.
His opponent Ann Coker was raised in the Bermuda District in Chester, VA and attended public schools. After she graduated, she attended Longwood University and received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration and Psychology. She previously served as the Enon Elementary PTO president and vice president and is an active member at her church.
Coker lists equity among students on her platform and believes it is necessary to diversify teaching styles to accommodate students. She also believes the community and the school board have to work together to ensure the best outcomes for the students. Her priorities also include infrastructure and school safety. She has committed to working to implement the recommendations of the Republican-led School Safety Task Force, which refused to consider gun violence prevention measures. Coker emphasizes her commitment to conservative values and fiscal responsibility.
Ares is the more progressive choice in this race.
Democrat Debra Gardner has lived in Chesterfield for the past 30 years. She holds a Masters of Public Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a concentration in social work from North Carolina Central University. She was previously an adjunct Professor and taught graduate courses in Executive Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Gardner’s board memberships show that she is invested in the community. Through her time in Virginia, she has served on the board of Smart Beginnings, The Virginia Drug Treatment Court Advisory Committee, The Virginia Substance Abuse Services Council, and The Commonwealth Domestic Violence Prevention Response Advisory Board.
Gardner is focused on improving the quality and safety of our public schools. She is in favor of environmental protections for the Swift Creek Reservoir. Gardner believes in equal opportunity for social and economic growth for all Virginians.
Republican Chris Winslow has been on the Clover Hill Board of Supervisors since 2016. His website is under construction, but his social media shows that he is supportive of tax breaks for commercial properties.
Democrat Debra Gardner is the more progressive choice for this race.
After growing up in Chesterfield County Schools, Dot Heffron taught 7th grade English at Providence Middle School. She is a member of the parent teacher association (PTA) for three different schools. Previously, she served as an English language tutor for several years. She is also an appointed member and chair of the Chesterfield County Special Education Advisory Committee. Heffron currently has three children in Chesterfield County Public Schools.
Heffron lists equity and ensuring that all students feel comfortable as priorities for her. Transportation is another barrier to access, and she wants to fix the shortage of bus drivers if she is elected. Heffron lists equity as one of her priorities, stating that every student has a right to an education. She is concerned about school safety and wants to ensure School Resource Officers are trained in trauma-informed care and de-escalation strategies. She has been endorsed by the Chesterfield Democratic Committee.
Arika Phillips currently lives in Chesterfield County. She received a career studies certificate in Early Childhood Education from John Tyler Community College, a bachelor's degree in Community-Based Education from Virginia Union University, and a master's degree from the University of Richmond in Nonprofit Studies. During college, Phillips was inducted into the International Educators Honors Society, Kappa Delta Phi.
Phillips was a licensed childcare provider and participated in the Virginia Star Rating Program. She also participated in the Virginia Alliance of Family Child Care Association, National Association for Early Childhood Programs, and the National Association for Family Child Care. Phillips also served on the board of Childcare Connection of Richmond and Vicinities. Phillips has 5 children in Chesterfield County Public Schools. She is a member of the PTA and serves as a substitute teacher for Chesterfield County Public Schools.
Philips lists recruiting and retaining trauma-informed faculty as a top priority. She also wants to expand access to early education and the collaboration of the community and school board. She is concerned about school safety while also wanting to prioritize approaches that don’t contribute to the school to prison pipeline.
Justin Smith is the opponent to Phillips and Heffron. He currently lives in Chesterfield with his family and has been endorsed by the Chesterfield Republican Party. Smith lacks a stance around equity and ensuring that students have the support they need regardless of differences. He does not speak candidly about wanting to raise teacher pay.
Philips and Heffron are both solid progressive choices on the ballot.
Democrat James Holland was the first African-American to be elected Chair of the Board of Supervisors in Chesterfield County. Holland is an accountant who also teaches accounting at Virginia Commonwealth University. His priorities have been to provide services to Chesterfield residents, value all the employees, and improve the quality of life for all people living in Chesterfield.
Republican Tammy Ridout is Holland’s opponent. Her stances on education, transportation, and environmental protection are unclear. She has expressed concern about high levels of crime, poverty, and English as a second language students, seeming to draw connections between the three.
James Holland is the more progressive choice for his race.
Shedrick McCall is a Virginia native. He currently lives in Chesterfield County with his wife. He received an undergraduate degree from Maryville College, a graduate degree from Liberty University, and a Doctorate from Argosy University of Sarasota Professional School of Psychology. McCall currently teaches at Virginia State University as a Professor of Psychology, and has been teaching mental health in education for over 25 years.
McCall’s priorities include increasing teacher pay, mental health, equity and diversity. Student comfort and safety are also top priorities. He wants more funding to increase teacher pay and improve school infrastructure. McCall believes renovations to some of the schools within the county are needed and wants to improve special education programming. McCall has been endorsed by the Chesterfield Democratic Committee.
His opponent, Debbie Bailey, has been endorsed by right-wing conservative Kirk Cox, the current Speaker of the House of Delegates and the local Republican committee. She lists the need for lack of distraction as a means for school safety as opposed to gun violence prevention. Bailey says that high quality teachers should be considered when making a budget, but not say that teachers in general deserve higher salaries.
McCall is the more progressive choice in this race.
Democrat Shajuan Mason is a Virginia native. She earned degrees from the University of Virginia, the University of Richmond’s T.C. Williams School of Law, and Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Social Work. After graduation, Mason worked at Central Virginia Legal Aid. She then returned to Matoaca where she now runs her own law firm where she supports children in custody battles. Mason is heavily involved in the Matoaca community. She has volunteered with the Chesterfield Quarterback League, the Matoaca Youth Association, and the Ettrick Youth Sports Association.
Mason believes that all residents should have an equal opportunity for success, regardless of their zip code. Her platform is centered on community and letting them identify their needs. She is against bringing in developers against resident wishes, and will use her influence to advocate for their concerns.
Her opponent, Republican Kevin Carroll, has been endorsed by right-wing conservative Kirk Cox, the current Speaker of the House of Delegates.
Mason is the more progressive choice for this race.
Denisha Potts is originally from North Carolina but has been a resident of the Matoaca district for 10 years. She received an undergraduate degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Winston-Salem State University and a graduate degree in Healthcare Administration from Strayer University.
Potts was previously a supervisor at Piedmont Geriatric Hospital and a Project Analyst at the Department of Medical Assistance Services. She is currently employed by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services as a Policy Review Specialist. Potts serves on the Chesterfield County Equity Committee, and was previously the Vice President and Education Chair of the NAACP Chesterfield Branch. She is endorsed by the Chesterfield County Democratic Committee
Potts’ priorities revolve around the needs of all students. Equity is at the top of her priority list, and she wants to increase special education resources. Most school board members push for teacher pay increase, but Potts wants to increase the pay for bus drivers as well. She wants to improve parent and teacher relationships and graduation readiness. Potts is also prioritizing anti-bullying efforts as a means of school safety.
Ryan Harter is Potts’ Republican-endorsed opponent. Harter mentions school safety, but wants to increase security as opposed to pushing for gun violence prevention. There is no mention of equity or inclusion on his platform, and he does not acknowledge any disparities or access gaps.
Potts is the more progressive choice in this race.
Democrat Javaid Siddiqi currently serves on the Chesterfield School Board from the Midlothian district. He is from Virginia and attended high school at Matoaca. He is a graduate of Richard Bland College, Virginia State University, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Siddiqi started his career in education. He was previously a high school biology teacher before transitioning to assistant principal and then principal in Chesterfield County. Because of his extensive experience, Siddiqi was asked by Republican Governor Bob McDonnell to serve as Deputy Secretary of Education and later Secretary of Education. Currently, Siddiqi serves as President & CEO of the Hunt Institute. The Hunt Institute is a nonprofit organization that partners with political leaders throughout the US in an effort to change public education.
Siddiqi believes all residents and visitors to Chesterfield County should feel welcome, regardless of age, background, or ability. He wants to make local government more accessible to residents who have difficulty accessing technology or physically visiting government offices. He is concerned about school funding and wants to ensure Chesterfield schools have the resources they need to make sure children can succeed.
Republican Leslie Haley was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2015. She has increased funding for the police department and the sheriff during her time on the board and boasts about a drop in crime in the county. Her website lists the drops in crime as a highlight, but fails to mention any pushes for rights restoration of those who have previously served time. Haley stances lack a push for equitable treatment of the incarcerated, bodycams, or increased police training. Haley has been endorsed by right-wing conservative Kirk Cox, the current Speaker of the House of Delegates.
Siddiqi is the more progressive choice in this race.
Kathryn Haines grew up in a military family, and later joined the Peace Corps. Afterward, she received a graduate degree in Urban Planning and Policy. She now lives in Chesterfield with her four children.
Haines is concerned about equity within school transportation, and wants to extend bus routes to every student. She says that in order for the Midlothian community to work well together, there has to be communication and trust along all socio-economic and racial lines. Haines and her opponent, Patrick Regan, have some similar platform points. However, when it comes to communication, Regan holds all stakeholders equally, as opposed to just those that are affected.
Haines is a believer in the importance of civic engagement and is committed to listening to the community’s needs. She has stated she wants to increase teacher salaries and reduce the emphasis on testing. On the other hand, Regan asserts that income and hours do not contribute to teachers leaving the school district. He speaks against “throwing money at the problem,” and suggests cutting the already scant public education budget to protect resident tax money. Haines has been endorsed by the Chesterfield Democratic Committee.
Haines is the more progressive choice for this race.
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