By Progress Virginia
Not in Roanoke County? Click here to choose your customized guide.
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.
Democratic candidate Flo Ketner is originally from Floyd County, Virginia. Ketner graduated from Radford University with an undergraduate degree in English and currently lives in Christiansburg. She serves as the Treasurer on the board of the Cayambis Institute Of Latin American Studies in Music.
Ketner’s priorities include healthcare access, gun safety, and the environment. She supports expanding health care access and ensuring rural Virginians have access to life saving care and facilities. She is also concerned about protecting our natural environment and preserving our resources. She supports state ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Her opponent, incumbent Republican Senator David Suetterlein opposes both commonsense gun violence prevention measures and access to reproductive health care. Suetterlein voted against raising the state minimum wage and against expanding Medicaid to cover 400,000 low-income working Virginians.
Ketner is the more progressive choice in this race.
Incumbent Senator John Edwards was elected to the state Senate in 1995. Edwards hails from Roanoke, Virginia. He graduated from Princeton University in 1966 cum laude and the University of Virginia School of Law in 1970. Senator Edwards served on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Captain from 1971 through 1973.
Senator Edwards has supported numerous progressive issues including legislation to deny gun purchases to persons determined to be a danger to themselves or others. He is a strong ally in the fight for environmental protection, conservation, and preservation. He successfully sponsored Virginia’s first power purchase agreement (PPA) legislation in 2013. He also passed a bill to make it easier for localities to obtain solar energy services from third parties in 2017. Senator Edwards also sponsored a bill that would have reversed a law that allows natural gas pipeline companies to survey on private property without permission.
His opponent is Independent Steven Nelson. Unfortunately, there is little public information about Nelson’s campaign platform. In 2015, he ran as an Independent in the 19th Senate district. In that race, he voiced strong support for continued reliance on polluting fossil fuels. He also criticized the Affordable Care Act and the AARP for their support for access to affordable health care. He describes himself as an “independent conservative.”
Delegate Edwards is the progressive choice in this race.
Incumbent Republican Stephen Newman has served in the Virginia General Assembly since 1991, first in the House of Delegates and then to the Senate of Virginia. Senator Newman is running unopposed this November.
Newman is no ally to progressive issues. He sponsored anti-LGBT legislation defining marriage as between one man and one woman. He consistently opposes access to reproductive health care, including voting to limit state funding for abortions. He voted against expanding Medicaid in Virginia and against raising the state minimum wage.
There is no progressive choice in this race. We encourage you to write in a candidate of your choice, and regardless to get out and vote! Please remember that there are other races that will be on the ballot.
House of Delegates
Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below House of Delegate races on your ballot.
Democratic candidate Darlene Lewis is a minister and small business owner who has lived in Roanoke County for 20 years. She co-founded The Hope Center, a small Roanoke nonprofit that provides after-school programs, a food pantry, and a resume-writing service for those seeking employment. As Delegate, she will advocate for criminal justice reform, affordable health care, and increased investments in our schools.
Her opponent, incumbent Republican Delegate Joe McNamara was elected in a special election in 2018. During his time in office, he voted for a bill that would require law enforcement to notify ICE when undocumented immigrants are released from incarceration, putting them in danger of deportation. Because McNamara was elected so recently, he doesn’t have a long voting record and his website doesn’t include information about his policy positions. But his vote for collaboration with ICE makes clear that he does not share our values.
Darlene Lewis is the more progressive candidate in this race because of her support for criminal justice reform and increased funding for our schools.
Republican Delegate Christopher Head was elected to the House of Delegates in 2011. He and his wife Betsy live in Roanoke, and run their business called Home Instead Senior Care. In his time as Delegate, he has voted to prohibit sanctuary cities, defund Planned Parenthood, and to prevent localities from raising the minimum wage. He also supports requiring parents to “opt-in” before their children can receive sex education in school.
Delegate Head is running unopposed. There is no progressive choice on the ballot. However, we still encourage you to show up to vote by writing in a name for this race and casting your vote in the other races in your district.
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