District 4

District 4

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The Virginia Progressive Voters Guide compiles the information that allows you to make informed decisions about the races on your ballot, based on your values. All research in this guide was conducted in August of 2020. Please share this guide with your friends and family.

Congress

Depending on where you live, you may have one of the below congressional districts on your ballot.

4th Congressional District

Member of the House of Representatives

  • About the Race

    This election occurs on November 3, 2020, in conjunction with the US presidential election. Incumbent congressman, attorney Don McEachin (D), is running against Leon Benjamin (R), a Richmond pastor and Gulf War veteran who is the current GOP chair of the Richmond Republican Party.

    About the District

    The 4th congressional district of Virginia contains most of the area between Richmond and Hampton Roads, including all or parts of Charles City, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Greensville, Henrico, Prince George, Southampton, Surry, and Sussex, and all or part of the independent cities of Chesapeake, Colonial Heights, Emporia, Hopewell, Petersburg, Richmond, and Suffolk. In 2012, the neighboring 3rd district was deemed unconstitutional. It was redrawn, with parts of it being put into the 4th district, since then the district has been reliably Democratic, with Don McEachin earning over 62% of the vote in 2018.

    Recommendation

    Democratic Representative Donald McEachin is seeking his third term serving the 4th Congressional District. He was first elected to the position in 2016. Before serving in Congress, McEachin was a member of Virginia’s House of Delegates from 1996 to 2002 and 2006 to 2008. He was then elected to the state Senate from 2008 to 2017. He’s a 1986 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and holds a Master of Divinity from Virginia Union University. He’s married to Collette McEachin, Commonwealth Attorney for the City of Richmond. The couple has three children together.

    As a member of Congress, Rep. McEachin serves on the Natural Resources and Energy and Commerce committees and Select Committee on Climate Crisis. He has introduced legislation to make solar energy more affordable for low-income families and the Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act. McEachin also wants the U.S. to recommit to the Paris Climate Agreement.

    McEachin believes it is the responsibility of Congress to protect citizens’ right to vote. He supports the John Lews Voting Rights Advancement Act.

    In 2020, McEachin voted with other Democratic members of Congress to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle healthcare reform. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act seeks to expand Medicaid coverage to insure more Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, lower the cost of prescription drugs, and reduce health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs. McEachin also introduced legislation this year aimed at addressing the country’s Black maternal health crisis.

    McEachin believes that Virginians deserve better pay and voted for the Raise the Wage Act this year to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. He voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act, which seeks to close the gender wage gap. McEachin supports immigrant rights and voted for the American Dream and Promise Act in 2019. He also voted to send $4.5 billion to the border that same year to address the humanitarian crisis suffered by migrants attempting to enter the U.S.

    NARAL Pro-Choice America gave McEachin a score of 100% for his voting record on reproductive freedom. He believes everyone should have access to safe and legal abortion and decide for themselves whether, how, and when to have children. McEachin supports federal funding of Planned Parenthood and believes that health insurance companies should cover birth control. McEachin also voted to impeach Trump in 2019.

    Rep. McEachin is facing a challenge from Pastor Leon Benjamin, an evangelical leader and Chairman of the Republican Party in Richmond. Benjamin works to garner African-American support for President Trump. He attended Trump’s inauguration and stated that Trump was “not a racist.” In 2010, Benjamin urged the U.S. Congress not to repeal the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, which banned openly gay people from serving in the military. He also opposes a person’s right to abortion access.

    Due to his extensive service to constituents in his district and commitment to progressive values, Rep. Donald McEachin is the most progressive candidate for Virginia’s 4th Congressional District.

    Last updated: 2020-09-10

7th Congressional District

Member of the House of Representatives

  • About the Race

    This congressional election occurs on November 3, 2020, in conjunction with the US presidential election. Incumbent congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D), a former operations officer with the CIA, is running for re-election against Nick Freitas (R), a US Army veteran.

    About the District

    The 7th congressional district spans most of Central Virginia. It includes all of Orange, Culpeper, Goochland, Louisa, Nottoway, Amelia, and Powhatan counties, as well as large portions of Chesterfield, Henrico, and Spotsylvania counties. The district went from Republican to Democrat in 2018, when Spanberger won her seat by just 2% and is considered one of the most competitive congressional districts in the state.

    Recommendation

    A former officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, Democratic Representative Abigail Spanberger was first elected to serve the 7th District in 2018 when she defeated incumbent Dave Brat. Before her election, Spanberger’s career included working for the U.S. Postal Service investigating narcotics and money laundering and living undercover abroad as a spy for the CIA. She was raised in Short Pump and graduated from the University of Virginia. She and her husband, Adam, have three daughters and live in Glen Allen.

    Spanberger is a moderate Democrat who prides herself on being the 5th most bipartisan member of the House. She’s a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Agriculture committees. During her time in office, Spanberger sponsored legislation to bring transparency to prescription drug prices and give Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices. She also introduced a bill aimed at strengthening the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and supported providing a public option for universal coverage.

    Spanberger supports protecting voting rights, restoring key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, and putting a stop to voter suppression. In 2019, she co-sponsored the Voting Rights Advancement Act. She believes in strengthening people’s access to the ballot by restoring and modernizing the Voting Rights Act.

    Spanberger believes that climate change is a national security threat. This year, she proposed the Growing Climate Solutions Act to reduce greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere by allowing farmers to engage in carbon cap and trade programs. In 2019, she helped introduce the Climate Action Now Act, which would require the U.S. to remain in the Paris Climate Agreement.

    In response to the police murder of George Floyd, Spanberger co-sponsored the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The bill calls for bans on chokeholds and no-knock warrants, sets national standards to hold police officers accountable for misconduct, prohibits racial profiling, and establishes a national data collection system on police misconduct.

    Spanberger is a member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus and worked with other members of the caucus to introduce the “Momnibus Bill” to address the nation’s crisis in Black maternal mortality. She introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, which seeks to close the gender wage gap. Spanberger also supports a person’s right to access reproductive healthcare and abortion. Spanberger voted to impeach Donald Trump in 2019.

    Spanberger is being challenged by Republican candidate Nick Freitas, who currently serves in Virginia’s House of Delegates. While serving in the House, Freitas was known for attacking abortion rights, saying on the House floor that the “abortion industry” and “broken homes” were contributing to mass shootings. He voted against allowing in-state tuition for undocumented students and granting driving privileges to immigrants while voting in favor of prohibiting sanctuary cities in Virginia. Freitas voted against expanding Medicaid coverage to 400,000 Virginians. Freitas also voted against requiring background checks on firearms sales in Virginia, a red flag law to keep guns out of the wrong hands, and banning the sale of assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

    Due to her commitment to improving healthcare for her constituents, fighting climate change, protecting women’s rights, and advocating for Black maternal health, Spanberger is the more progressive choice for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.

    Last updated: 2020-09-10

City of Richmond

Richmond Mayor

  • Non-Partisan
  • Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth and sits on the banks of the James River in central Virginia. It has a population of 226,610 people. The city is strongly Democratic with 83% of the vote going to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

    About the Candidate

    About the Race

    Richmond’s mayoral election is held on November 3, 2020, in conjunction with the U.S. presidential election. Progressive activist Alexsis Rodgers is running against fellow progressive candidate Justin Griffin, as well as incumbent Mayor Levar Stoney, Tracey McLean, and 2nd District City Council representative Kim Gray.

    About the District

    Richmond is an independent city and the Commonwealth’s capital. It lies on the fall line of the James River between Chesterfield and Henrico counties. Richmond City’s population is roughly 200,000, although the greater metro area has a population of over 1 million. The city trends Democratic, with Hillary Clinton winning over 75% of the vote in 2016.

    Recommendation

    Alexsis Rodgers is the current state director of Care in Action, a policy and advocacy group for Virginia’s female domestic workers. Rodgers previously served as the communications director for Virginia’s League of Planned Parenthood. She is the board chair of Emerge Virginia, an organization that trains Democratic women to run for office in Virginia.

    Rodgers has a demonstrated commitment to progressive values. During her time with Planned Parenthood, she worked to expand Medicaid and increase access to birth control throughout the Commonwealth. With Care in Action, she was instrumental in making Virginia the first southern state to create labor protections for domestic workers by leading advocacy efforts on the Virginia Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.

    In addition to her advocacy, Rodgers also has experience working with elected leadership. She served as the policy director in Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor’s office, where she did extensive work on reproductive justice, behavioral health, and early childhood education.

    Rodgers’ platform focuses on ensuring that all Richmond residents have access to safe, affordable housing, reducing the size and scope of policing, finding innovative ways to fully fund Richmond’s public schools, and keeping the government of Richmond accountable to its residents.

    Rodgers has been openly critical of the Richmond Police Department’s response to protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

    Mayor Levar Stoney, the incumbent, was elected in 2016. His most widely-criticized effort as leader of the city involved attempting to force through the Navy Hill Development project, a massive redevelopment plan for the Navy Hill district which was spearheaded and led by Dominion Energy CEO Tom Farrell. He was opposed by grassroots organizations for the project’s lack of transparency in spite of the fact that it used taxpayer-funded subsidies. Stoney faced criticism for not reacting quickly enough to Richmond Police Department’s excessive use against protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s death and for being indecisive about removing Confederate monuments from the city. Stoney dealt with backlash for not properly vetting the replacement of the Richmond police chief, who was removed in 2020 over his handling of protests.

    Also vying for mayor is 2nd District City Council Member Kim Gray. Her platform only goes into specific detail on public safety and education. It does not address systemic racial disparities or injustices in regard to either issue. Gray does not share Rodgers’ demonstrated commitment to progressive values, once comparing Black Lives Matter protesters to terrorists. She voted against a proposed study on shifting resources away from the Richmond Police Department but voted in favor of a civilian oversight board and Marcus Alert system, which would have mental health professionals respond to crises instead of police.

    Candidate Justin Griffin is a progressive activist who launched the “No Coliseum” campaign against the Navy Hill development. He has extensive experience working with small businesses and has been a leading voice in the demand for transparency from Richmond’s government. Griffin is also running on a robust platform of progressive reform. However, he has less experience working in government and less progressive goals than Rodgers.

    Candidate Tracey McLean is a local Richmond author and the CEO of Adyme publishing. She is also a cast member of a CW reality TV show, The Real Babymamas of VA. McLean’s platform focuses on unity and transparency, but is less defined and detailed than Rodgers’. McLean does not share Rodgers’ extensive history of commitment to progressive values and advocacy, although she does support a proposal by local activists to transform parking lots in Shockoe Bottom into a slave memorial park.

    The sixth contender for Richmond mayor is economist Michael Gilbert. He is running his campaign on three pillars: economic development and public education, policing and criminal justice reform, and improving community, health, and social services. He supports the creation of a civilian review board with subpoena power, the implementation of a 'Marcus Alert' system, ending qualified immunity for police, and imposing mandatory implicit bias testing of all current and potential officers. While Gilbert does have a progressive platform, his campaign has failed to gain traction in the community and he hasn’t raised any money for his effort. 

    Due to her unrelenting commitment to progressive values and detailed progressive platform, Alexsis Rodgers is the most progressive choice in this race.

    Last updated: 2020-10-09

Richmond City Council Races

Richmond City Council, District 4

  • Non-Partisan
  • Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth and sits on the banks of the James River in central Virginia. It has a population of 226,610 people. The city is strongly Democratic with 83% of the vote going to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

    About the Candidate

    About the Race

    The election of Richmond’s 4th District representative for City Council takes place on November 3, 2020 during the general election. Incumbent Councilwoman Kristen Larson is running unopposed for re-election.

    About the District

    Richmond is an independent city and the Commonwealth’s capital. It lies on the fall line of the James River between Chesterfield and Henrico counties. Richmond City’s population is roughly 200,000, although the greater metro area has a population of over 1 million. The 4th District trends Democratic, with Rep. Don McEachin (D) winning over 70% of the vote during the 2018 congressional election.

    Recommendation

    Councilwoman Kristen Larson began her community engagement in Richmond by serving on the board at her son’s school, the Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts. In 2012, she was recognized by Style Magazine on its “Top 40 under 40” list. She was also part of the City of Richmond Early Childhood Action Team. She was elected to represent the 4th District on Richmond’s School Board in 2012 and was elected to City Council in 2016, winning a five-way race. Larson is the Chair of the Education and Health Committee and serves on the Finance Committee.

    During her time on the School Board, Larson helped develop a plan to fix school infrastructure issues and finish long-overdue improvements to bring Richmond Public Schools in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Larson voted against removing Confederate monuments in January of 2020 because she thought removing them was not worth the cost. After the protests in response to George Floyd’s murder, Larson voted to remove Confederate monuments from Richmond. She voted to implement the Marcus Alert System and create a Civilian Review Board for police. However, she also voted against a proposal to study options regarding defunding the Richmond Police Department. In her statement rejecting the defunding proposal, she cited what she called “dangerous and unacceptable” protests in Richmond.

    Due to a lack of transparency, Larson opposed Levar Stoney’s proposed Navy Hill development deal, led by Dominion Energy CEO Tom Farrell, and opposed by local progressive activists.

    Larson is running unopposed in this race.

    Kristen Larson is the progressive choice for this race.

    Kristen Larson

    About the Race

    The election of Richmond’s 4th District representative for City Council takes place on November 3, 2020 during the general election. Incumbent Councilwoman Kristen Larson is running unopposed for re-election.

    About the District

    Last updated: 2020-09-10

Richmond School Board

Richmond City School Board, District 4

  • Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth and sits on the banks of the James River in central Virginia. It has a population of 226,610 people. The city is strongly Democratic with 83% of the vote going to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

    About the Candidate

    About the Race

    The election for the 4th District representative for the Richmond School Board takes place on November 3, 2020, during the general election. Teacher and activist, Deanna Fierro, is running against incumbent Jonathan Young.

    About the District

    Richmond is an independent city and the Commonwealth’s capital. It lies on the fall line of the James River between Chesterfield and Henrico counties. Richmond City’s population is roughly 200,000, although the greater metro area has a population of over 1 million. The 4th District trends Democratic, with Rep. Don McEachin (D) winning over 70% of the vote during the 2018 congressional election.

    Recommendation

    Deanna Fierro is a Virginia public school teacher who recently earned her master's degree in Education Leadership from VCU. Fierro has also advocated for students and educators throughout the state, helping to organize the 2019 RedforEd March in Richmond to urge legislators to increase public school funding. She has also served as her district’s zoning representative to the school board, where she advocated for a facilities plan that would help decrease overcrowding in classrooms. She has also filed a federal complaint on behalf of Richmond's English as a Second Language (ESL) students because of the lack of funding and resources.

    Fierro’s platform has three central pillars: retaining educators, attracting families to the Richmond school system, and building communities. She believes that retaining educators will lead to significant improvements in the quality of education at Richmond public schools. In order to retain more teachers, Fierro believes it is essential Richmond establish collective bargaining for educators, develop a plan to collect their input before implementing policies that change day-to-day school operations, and create a system for collecting exit interviews so administrators can identify retention issues.

    She believes that families and communities will be best served by increasing equity in Richmond’s schools and make learning equally accessible to all students in the city, particularly for students who have special needs or are not proficient in English. Fierro wishes to address these issues by creating a community engagement plan that allows families to have input on school decision making, develop strategies to close education gaps caused by systemic disparities, and identify a process to uplift underserved student populations.

    Fierro’s opponent is incumbent Jonathan Young, who proposed open enrollment for all students at all Richmond schools as a replacement for rezoning proposals in 2019. His plan also involved closing five Richmond schools, despite the issues Richmond schools already faced with overcrowding.

    Given her commitment to improving education for ESL students, her support for educator collective bargaining, and her innovative approach to equity in education, Deanna Fierro is the most progressive choice in this race.

    Deanna Fierro

    About the Race

    The election for the 4th District representative for the Richmond School Board takes place on November 3, 2020, during the general election. Teacher and activist, Deanna Fierro, is running against incumbent Jonathan Young.

    About the District

    Richmond is an independent city and the Commonwealth’s capital. It lies on the fall line of the James River between Chesterfield and Henrico counties. Richmond City’s population is roughly 200,000, although the greater metro area has a population of over 1 million. The 4th District trends Democratic, with Rep. Don McEachin (D) winning over 70% of the vote during the 2018 congressional election.

    Recommendation

    Deanna Fierro is a Virginia public school teacher who recently earned her master's degree in Education Leadership from VCU. Fierro has also advocated for students and educators throughout the state, helping to organize the 2019 RedforEd March in Richmond to urge legislators to increase public school funding. She has also served as her district’s zoning representative to the school board, where she advocated for a facilities plan that would help decrease overcrowding in classrooms. She has also filed a federal complaint on behalf of Richmond's English as a Second Language (ESL) students because of the lack of funding and resources.

    Fierro’s platform has three central pillars: retaining educators, attracting families to the Richmond school system, and building communities. She believes that retaining educators will lead to significant improvements in the quality of education at Richmond public schools. In order to retain more teachers, Fierro believes it is essential Richmond establish collective bargaining for educators, develop a plan to collect their input before implementing policies that change day-to-day school operations, and create a system for collecting exit interviews so administrators can identify retention issues.

    She believes that families and communities will be best served by increasing equity in Richmond’s schools and make learning equally accessible to all students in the city, particularly for students who have special needs or are not proficient in English. Fierro wishes to address these issues by creating a community engagement plan that allows families to have input on school decision making, develop strategies to close education gaps caused by systemic disparities, and identify a process to uplift underserved student populations.

    Fierro’s opponent is incumbent Jonathan Young, who proposed open enrollment for all students at all Richmond schools as a replacement for rezoning proposals in 2019. His plan also involved closing five Richmond schools, despite the issues Richmond schools already faced with overcrowding.

    Given her commitment to improving education for ESL students, her support for educator collective bargaining, and her innovative approach to equity in education, Deanna Fierro is the most progressive choice in this race.

    Last updated: 2020-09-10

Constitutional Amendments

Virginia Redistricting Commission Constitutional Amendment

  • VOTE NO
    Vote NO on this Flawed Amendment
  • We all deserve free and fair elections so that all of us can make our voices heard with equal power in our communities. But for years, conservative politicians have been doing everything they can to hoard power and ensure that they get re-elected no matter what the people want. They’ve done this by rigging district maps to dilute the power of communities of color and prevent people from making their voices heard. This November, there will be a constitutional amendment on the ballot that enshrines in our state constitution the power of politicians to pick their voters instead of allowing voters to choose their representatives. We need to vote no on this political bait and switch and ensure that the power stays with the people, not power-hungry politicians.

    About the Amendment
    This amendment gives the power to draw political maps to a commission made up of politicians and people hand-picked by politicians. They will draw the maps, and then members of the General Assembly will vote to accept or reject them. This amendment does not remove politicians from the process. The amendment also fails to adequately protect people of color in the constitution, instead relying on separate legislation that could be repealed, jeopardizing civil rights protections.

    We deserve a truly independent commission to ensure fair and equitable redistricting. Vote no on this amendment to put the power back in the hands of the people and keep politicians from choosing their voters instead of the other way around.

    About the Decision
    We can’t get clean elections with dirty maps drawn by politicians more interested in protecting their power than ensuring our voices are heard in our democracy.  We need to give the power back to the people and remove politicians from the process of drawing political boundaries completely. We can create a commission of concerned voters and nonpartisan experts who can draw fair, compact districts that ensure communities of color are protected, and everyone can make their voice heard equally.

    Amending the constitution is a big deal, and if we’re going to do it, we need to make sure we are getting it right. We don’t have to accept a flawed amendment or nothing at all. We can go back to the drawing board and ensure that what we are enshrining permanently in our constitution is fair, just, equitable, and gets us the results we want. Leaders in our community such as Congressman Donald McEachin and Congressman Bobby Scott know that this amendment is the wrong move. 


    The most progressive approach to redistricting is to vote NO on this flawed amendment and demand better to simultaneously protect historically underrepresented communities and draw fair district lines by including strong, specific, and clear rules to protect communities of color.

    Virginia Redistricting Commission Constitutional Amendment

    We all deserve free and fair elections so that all of us can make our voices heard with equal power in our communities. But for years, conservative politicians have been doing everything they can to hoard power and ensure that they get re-elected no matter what the people want.

    Last updated: 2020-10-26

Exemption for Disabled Veterans Constitutional Amendment

  • No Position
    No Position: Motor Vehicle Property Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans
  • This tax exemption will exclusively benefit veterans residing in Virginia who have a disability 100% connected to their service.

    This amendment was proposed by Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and was approved unanimously in the Senate and near-unanimously in the House. It will grant a property tax exemption for a single vehicle to disabled veterans whose disability is 100% connected with their service. There have been calls to limit the maximum value of cars that may be included in this exemption or limit the exemption based on the veteran’s income, which would be addressed later through legislation in the General Assembly.

    Virginia Association of Counties and the Virginia Municipal League (VML) both objected to this exemption because they believed that property tax exemptions should remain under local jurisdiction and not be mandated by the General Assembly. The VML argues that because localities do not decide to declare and send soldiers to war, the financial responsibility for caring for them should fall not on localities but on the federal government.
     

    Last updated: 2020-10-07