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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 Jennifer McClellan is a Democrat who grew up in Petersburg. She serves on the board for both the YWCA of Richmond and the Richmond NAACP. She is also on the board of the Children’s Museum of Richmond and the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood.
Senator McClellan was elected in 2017 and is the only Senator that has been pregnant while in office. Prior to her election, she served in the Virginia House of Delegates for 11 years. She has proven herself to a pro-choice champion, sponsoring multiple bills to protect and expand reproductive rights. She has voted to raise the minimum wage and to increase teacher salaries. Senator McClellan also voted to expand Medicaid in Virginia and fought to put protections for breast feeding into state law.
Her opponent, Libertarian Mark Lewis, advocates for eliminating the minimum wage and expanding access to guns. He would repeal Medicaid expansion and supports school voucher schemes.
Senator Jennifer McClellan is the progressive choice in this race.
Delegate Debra Rodman is a Fulbright Scholar and teaches anthropology at Randolph-Macon College. She also serves as an expert witness for the US Federal Court around issues of families and LGBT refugees fleeing violence.
Rodman was elected to the House of Delegates in 2017. During her time in the House, Delegate Rodman voted to expand Medicaid and increase teacher salaries. She has sponsored legislation to expand access to reproductive rights, including to ensure transgender Virginians are not discriminated against when accessing care. Rodman also co-sponsored legislation mandating menstrual products be distributed to residents of jails and prisons. Rodman supports paid family and medical leave. In 2017, she was one of the first candidates to pledge to refuse money from Dominion and other state-regulated energy monopolies. She supports gun violence prevention and has pushed universal background checks.
Her opponent, incumbent Republican Senator Siobhan Dunnavent, voted against Medicaid expansion. Even though she is an OB-GYN, she is anti-choice and bizarrely claimed on the Senate floor that IUDs might cause abortions. She voted against raising the minimum wage and opposes commonsense measures to address gun violence in Virginia.
Debra Rodman is the progressive choice in this race.
House of Delegates
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below House of Delegate races on your ballot.
As a former Louisa County teacher and professor at the College of William and Mary, Democratic candidate Juanita Jo Matkins believes all Virginians deserve a fair chance. Matkins has lived in the 56th District for much of her life, educating its young people and serving her community through her church and various volunteer organizations. Her top priorities are increased education funding, healthcare access for all, and access to high-speed internet. She supports a number of progressive priorities including raising teacher pay, expanding affordable access to health care, criminal justice reform, and expanding voting rights.
She is running against incumbent Republican Delegate John McGuire. Delegate McGuire voted to notify ICE when undocumented Virginians are in police custody. He is also anti-choice. His position on other progressive priorities is unclear.
Juanita Jo Matkins is the more progressive choice in this race.
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 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.
Prior to winning elected office, incumbent Democratic Delegate Jeff Bourne was appointed by Attorney General Mark Herring to serve as the Deputy Attorney General for transportation, real estate, and construction litigation for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Delegate Bourne is committed to education, environmental protection, criminal justice reform, and housing equality. He is proud to have led the bipartisan passage of bills like HB 1600, which limited long-term school suspensions to 45 days, and HB 1922, which provides stronger safeguards against landlords who mishandle eviction proceedings.
Delegate Bourne is running against independent Pete Wells. Wells supports the legalization of marijuana for recreational and medical use in Virginia. He also wants to end capital punishment and aims to eliminate punitive solitary confinement in state prisons.
Jeff Bourne is the more progressive choice in this race.
Incumbent Democratic Delegate Schuyler VanValkenberg is originally from New York. He attended college at the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University, where he obtained a master's degree in History. Delegatee VanValkenburg currently teaches at Glen Allen High School.
In his first session, Delegate VanValkenberg sponsored and passed a bill to prevent people from losing their state professional licensure due to student debt problems. Following the Parkland shootings, he was one of a few Delegates chosen to serve on a select committee for school safety. He held community input sessions and met with parent activists and school safety experts to work on a set of recommendations to the General Assembly that focused on physical infrastructure, student mental and emotional health, and school-community relations. He is fighting for more education funding, better economic development, and access to reproductive rights. Delegate VanValkenberg is a staunch supporter of the Affordable Care Act and voted to expand Medicaid in Virginia.
Republican GayDonna Vandergriff’s campaign is unclear on a number of issues surrounding reproductive rights, LGBTQ legislation, or racial equality. She believes in increased funding for public education.
Delegate VanValkenberg is the progressive choice in this race.
Democratic candidate Rodney Willett is a Virginia native who practices law, representing local governments in Virginia. He has been instrumental in establishing and expanding free legal assistance programs while running his practice. He serves on the board of Rx Partnership, which provides free or low-cost prescription medication fulfillment to uninsured Virginians. As a member of Virginia’s Children’s Health Insurance Advisory Board, Willett has fought to endure the continuation of life-saving healthcare coverage for kids.
Willett is pushing for every Virginian to have access to affordable, quality healthcare that covers pre-existing and chronic conditions. He also advocates for Virginia to put more funding into mental health care and addiction treatment. Willett is supportive of sensible gun policies including establishing universal background checks for all gun purchases.
His opponent is Republican Mary Margaret Kastelberg. Kastelberg was born in Richmond, Virginia and currently works in investment management. She opposes Medicaid expansion.
Willett is the progressive choice in this race.
Incumbent Democratic Delegate Lamont Bagby is a former member of the Henrico County School Board. He received his bachelor’s degree from Norfolk State University and his master’s from Virginia Commonwealth University.
During his time in office, Bagby proposed a bill to ensure additional affordable housing in Richmond. He also co-sponsored sensible gun laws including one which mandated that authorities must be notified if a gun is lost or stolen. Additionally, he supported adding funding to the Housing Trust Fund, increasing the number of school counselors, and addressing healthcare billing, while also providing additional tax relief for Virginia. Bagby also played an important role in ensuring that Virginians no longer have their driver’s licenses suspended for failure to pay court fines and fees.
Delegate Bagby is running unopposed and is the progressive choice in this race.
Democratic incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor is running for a third term in office to serve Henrico County. Taylor graduated from the University of Virginia in 1989. She then attended the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond, graduating with a Juris Doctor in 1995.
Taylor has implemented and advocates for a number of criminal justice reforms including treating opioid addiction as a health issue, rights restoration for former felons, banning screening questions regarding criminal history on employment applications, and eliminating cash bail. She will continue to prioritize getting illegal firearms off Henrico streets and advocating for commonsense gun violence prevention measures. Taylor supports federal and state legislation such as universal background checks for all firearm purchases and allowing judges to temporarily restrict access to firearms for those who are deemed at risk of harming themselves or others, known as an extreme risk protection order.
Owen Conway, a criminal defense attorney, is running against Taylor as the Republican candidate. Conway believes in reducing the population of incarcerated people in the county’s jail system, but has not addressed any other criminal justice reforms that align with our values.
Due to her advocacy for former felons’ rights, gun violence prevention, and concern for opioid addiction, incumbent Shannon Taylor is the more progressive choice for Commonwealth’s Attorney in Henrico.
Alisa Gregory has been in law enforcement for over 20 years, currently serving as Chief Deputy for Henrico County. If elected, she will be the first female Sheriff to serve Henrico County. As Sheriff, Gregory vows to address the opioid and mental health crisis in Henrico County. She is interested in pursuing alternative sentences for non-violent offenders and plans on addressing the needs of women in prison by establishing an advisory panel that plays special attention to their unique needs.
Bob Matson is the Republican candidate for Henrico Sheriff. Matson served in the United States Army and National Guard. He vows to address the opioid addiction crisis by being “smart on crime” but also “tough on crime”. Additionally, Matson plans on recruiting more officers to the Sheriff’s department.
J.T. Wadkins III is an independent candidate who supports inmate labor sharing between counties. Wadkins is originally from Chesterfield County and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management. He oversaw the finance and computerization aspects of the Richmond City Jail in the Richmond City Sheriff’s Office for ten years. He is also a member of the National Gun Rifle Association.
Alisa Gregory is the progressive candidate because of her consideration of alternative sentencing for offenders and her focus on the needs of women impacted by the prison system.
Democratic candidate Steven Burkarth has called Brookland home for forty years. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in political science. For 12 years, he worked as a state government employee in different fields: economic development, tourism marketing, and disability services. He now works as a community services specialist for a non-profit civil rights organization in the Brookland District.
Burkarth is running on a platform that promotes diversity, inclusivity, and equality. In his focus on education, he believes the county needs to stop relying on trailers to deal with overcrowding in schools. He also wants Henrico County to be a regional leader in environmental stewardship by investing in green technology. Burkarth wants to expand economic opportunity in Henrico and improve public safety for county residents.
Republican incumbent Dan J. Schmitt was elected to the Henrico County Board of Supervisors in a 2018 special election. Schmitt is a proponent of fiscal responsibility by keeping taxes low. He also wants to reduce school trailers and make Henrico a popular destination for tourists.
Due to his platform that promotes equality and inclusivity as well as his advocacy for the environment, Burkarth is the more progressive candidate for the Brookland District of the Henrico Board of Supervisors.
Jackson Carter Knox has lived in the Brookland district of Henrico County for the last six years. He serves on Henrico County Public Schools’ Strategic Planning Committee and is the Brookland District Chair of the Henrico Democrats.
Knox vows to help Henrico County students become members of the global workforce by providing the tools and resources they need to excel. He plans to revise the Brookland district's Environmental and Sustainability Management System by combining green practices with hands-on learning opportunities. He also wants to retain Henrico County teachers by offering them competitive pay and professional development opportunities.
Kristi Briggs Kinsella grew up in Henrico County. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in Finance. Her priorities as a member of the School Board for Henrico County are ensuring that Henrico County schools are equipped to support every child mentally, academically, developmentally, and physically. She also wants to increase teacher pay and retaining teachers by supporting them in their professional development. Finally, Kinsella plans to reduce class size and overcrowding in Henrico County schools.
Democratic incumbent Frank Thornton was first elected in 1996 and is the longest serving member of the Henrico County Board of Supervisors. He is a retired French teacher at Virginia Union University and co-founder of the Henrico County Civic League.
As the current Board Chair, Thornton recently championed a partnership with the YMCA of Greater Richmond that brought an $8 million indoor swimming center to his district. For his next term in office, Thornton wants to usher in expanded service for the Greater Richmond Transit Company’s bus lines in eastern Henrico. He also wants to address affordable housing in Henrico, make education a priority, and improve public safety.
Virginia Union University professor Delta Bowers is running as an independent. Bowers is running her campaign on increasing workforce training to increase opportunities, improving school accreditation in eastern Henrico and tackling poverty.
Thornton’s record of serving his community and demonstrated commitment to the Board of Supervisors makes him the more progressive candidate for Fairfield Supervisor on the Henrico County Board of Supervisors.
Roscoe D. Cooper III was elected to represent the Fairfield District on the Henrico County School Board in November 2015. Cooper is the father of two Henrico County Public School students. Cooper serves on Senator Mark Warner’s Religious Advisory Committee.
Cooper is the pastor of Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Virginia Union University. In 2013, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree from Richmond Virginia Seminary.
Cooper is being challenged by Keith Hicks. Hicks has served as a substitute teacher in public schools in the Fairfield district. His platform includes adding instructional assistance in classrooms where students are underperforming. He also wants to raise compensation for substitute teachers. Hicks believes meal tax revenue is not being used for the best purpose and wants to fund more school improvement projects in the Fairfield district.
Neither Cooper nor Hicks have a campaign website to inform voters on their platforms.
Republican incumbent Thomas Branin has represented Three Chopt on the Henrico Board of Supervisors since 2016. He has been a member of the Henrico Planning Commission for 10 years. A construction management consultant in his professional capacity, Branin supports small businesses, park development and traffic safety improvements.
Branin is running uncontested. While there is no progressive candidate in this race, you have the option to write in a candidate of your choice.
Incumbent independent candidate Michelle Ogburn has held her seat since 2014. Her time in office has been marked by controversy, most notably a recall effort in 2016. The recall came about due to charges of “neglect of duty” and “misuse of office” by her constituents. Three Chopt constituents held Ogburn solely responsible for the school board's decision to sell land from Three Chopt Elementary School to a private company to use for a cancer treatment center even though the full board voted for the sale. The recall was eventually abandoned.
Another controversy that received national attention was over a video by the African American Policy Forum shown to students to display the effects of structural racism. The video was originally meant for children and was shown to high school students during an assembly for Black History Month. As chairwoman of the school board, Ogburn bowed to parent outrage over the video and even apologized on behalf of the school district. Ogburn is running unopposed.
A graduate of Marshall University, Democratic candidate Marques Jones is married with three children. He works as a home care executive, entrepreneur, radio show host, and activist.
Jones was inspired to advocate for affordable healthcare after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his late twenties. Jones vows to allocate more funds to public school education and believes that universal pre-k will help to give each child a fair start. Jones also plans to implement smart growth in Henrico by regulating urban sprawl and advocating for environmental preservation.
Republican incumbent Supervisor Patricia O’Bannon was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1995. She sits on the Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization and is a former English teacher and editor at Richmond Suburban Newspapers.
Marques Jones is the more progressive candidate because of his commitment to increasing access to affordable healthcare and increasing funding to Henrico County schools.
Melissa Dart is the mother of three young boys and a graduate of VCU with a Master’s Degree in Science and Health Administration. Dart currently serves on the Henrico County Special Education Advisory Committee where she advocates with children with special needs like her son.
Dart is an ex-officio member of the Henrico County Public Schools Equity and Advisory Committee. She is currently working to implement changes suggested in the Henrico County Public Schools Equity and Parent Engagement Study. Some of those changes include making schools safer and more inclusive for all students, including LGBTQ students. Dart believes students should learn more about environmental preservation and advocates for construction of new school buildings to be built with energy conservation in mind. She also advocates for higher pay for educators and more transparency from decision makers.
Marcie Shea is originally from Richmond. She is married with children and works as a Henrico educator. She has a bachelor’s degree in physics and a masters of education in science curriculum and instruction. She is currently a Pemberton Elementary School parent. She is passionate about supporting teachers and meeting all students where they are.
Supervisor Tyrone Nelson is a native of Richmond, VA. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Divinity from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. Reverend Nelson currently serves as the seventh pastor of the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church in Richmond, VA. He serves on the board of the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission and numerous other community organizations.
Nelson was first elected to the Henrico Board of Supervisors in 2011. As Supervisor for Varina, he has helped the county invest millions of dollars in the district, including capital school projects, community revitalization projects, library improvements, police, public works, and parks and recreation investments.
Nelson is being challenged by independent candidate Angela Rowe, a native Richmonder and former vice-president of Sonobank. Rowe has served on the board of directors of the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School Foundation.
Because of his experience serving his constituents in Varina, Nelson is the progressive choice for the Varina District.
Another candidate vying for the Varina School Board seat is Kandise Lucas, an educator and child advocate. She is a vocal critic of the county’s special education program and policies and has initiated a lawsuit to change it.
Joyce Davis is an assistant professor at Virginia Union University. She does not have a campaign website or Facebook page at this time.
Michelle Roots Henderson is a Henrico County school teacher. She does not have a campaign website or Facebook page at this time.
Alicia Atkins is running to represent Varina District on the School Board. A graduate of Highland Springs High School, she studied health administration at California Coast University. A mother of three children, Atkins is a longtime PTA volunteer who wants to create stronger ties between families and key stakeholders in the community. Preserving and improving the quality of health care and school systems are important to her. Atkins is running her campaign under the slogan “Let’s FACE the Future Together” where FACE is an acronym for Facts, take Action, inspire Change, and Educate.
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