Free Press endorsements for 2019 Virginia elections

10/31/2019, 6 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 5, is Election Day.

Tuesday, Nov. 5, is Election Day.

Across the state, Virginians will go to the polls to elect members of the General Assembly. All 140 seats in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates are up for election.

Additionally, important local contests will be decided on Election Day. In the city of Richmond, that includes the 5th District Richmond City Council representative, the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney and clerk of Richmond Circuit Court.

In Henrico and Chesterfield counties, voters also will select a sheriff and members of the board of supervisors and school board.

The upcoming legislative contests will be critical in Virginia because Republicans hold a slim two-vote majority in both the Senate and the House of Delegates. At current count, Republicans hold a 20-19 edge over Democrats in the Senate, and a 51-48 edge in the House, with one vacancy in each chamber.

The election could very well change the balance of power in the Virginia Legislature and help the common- wealth forge a more progressive path with laws that will better benefit the people, including common sense gun laws, raising the minimum wage and ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.

We saw what a shift toward more progressive policies would mean in Virginia following the November 2017 election, when Democrats picked up 15 seats in the House, resulting in the current count. Republicans were forced to back Medicaid expansion, which Democrats had unsuc- cessfully sought for several years. Because of that change, about 300,000 previously uninsured Virginians now have health care coverage.

In Richmond, a new 5th District City Council member has the potential to determine whether millions of dollars in taxpayer money will be tied up for the next 30 years in a Coliseum replacement and Downtown redevelopment plan, or whether public schools and other vital services will take priority.

“Every election is determined by the people who show up,” political analyst Larry J. Sabato of the University of Virginia has said.

The Richmond Free Press believes that our vote is our power. And we hope that Richmond area voters will turn out to the polls in strong numbers on Nov. 5 to continue the wave of progress in Virginia and to keep the focus on public schools and other critical priorities in our city.

After careful consideration, we endorse the following candidates:

Virginia Senate

We endorse veteran lawmaker Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan, a Democrat from Richmond, for re-election in the 9th Senate District. She has done a solid job in representing her constituents since 2017 and, before that, during her tenure in the House of Delegates, beginning in 2006. She has been stalwart in her support for voting rights, for equal rights for the LGBTQ community, for women’s rights to make their own decisions about their reproductive health and to increase funding for public education and higher education. Her service on various legislative commissions, including the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission, the Emancipation Proclamation and Freedom Monument and the Virginia Conflicts of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council have produced tangible, but often unnoticed results. She is vice chairman of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus and has contributed much to advance initiatives and legislation important to our community.