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 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.
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