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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.
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.
Reproductive Freedom: Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia
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.
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.
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.
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.
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