This week’s newsletter discusses the 2023 election season, information about the Senate Page Program, and provides highlights from selected community events of this past week. Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter and for staying informed.
The 2023 Elections are in Full Swing
We are in the midst of Virginia’s unique off-cycle 2023 elections, and voting has never been more important. Virginia is one of two states (New Jersey is the other) that holds elections in those years that do not have concurrent federal elections. With no US House of Representatives, US Senate, or Presidential races on the ballot, drawing voters to the polls can be quite challenging. However, the state and local governments have become more important than ever before, as the key policy decisions that impact our daily lives are made close to home, rather than through federal offices.
This year in Virginia, all 140 seats of the General Assembly (100 House of Delegates and 40 State Senate) are on the ballot. Similarly, many localities are electing Board of Supervisors and School Board members. Critical issues are at stake and will be decided by which party holds the majority in the Virginia Senate and in the House. Safe and legal access to abortion is clearly on the ballot, as are voting rights, the future of public education in Virginia, funding for essential housing programs, higher education, and so much more.
Early voting began in Virginia on Friday, September 22, and information for the early voting locations is available through the Department of Elections. For my current constituents, information regarding early voting is available for each locality: City of Richmond, Chesterfield County, and Powhatan County. Voters are encouraged to confirm that their voter registration is current and accurate.
Voters need to present an acceptable form of ID. The final deadline to register to vote and to update registration information is this upcoming Monday, October 16. After that date, voters are still able to register at any time, up to and including Election Day; these votes will be cast using provisional ballots.
Senate Page Application: Final Call
The application deadline for the 2024 Senate Page Program is next Friday, October 20. I continue to share details about the program because it is such a wonderful and unique opportunity for young people to engage with state government, learn leadership skills, and gain firsthand experience and knowledge about the legislative process.
Applicants must be residents of the Commonwealth and either 13 or 14 years old on January 10, 2024, the first day of the new session.
Pages perform administrative duties, participate in team building, undergo rigorous civics education, and help with day-to-day operations of the General Assembly. While immersed in the program, Pages live in Richmond throughout the duration of the General Assembly, visiting home on the weekends. The well-structured program provides time for Pages to keep up with schoolwork while also engaging in General Assembly activities.
Highlights from Community Events & Meetings
Abortion rights and reproductive health care are on the ballot this November. I was happy to join Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan; House of Delegates Minority Leader Don Scott; Jamie Lockhart, Executive Director at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia; Alexsis Rodgers, National Organizing Director of National Domestic Workers Alliance; and many other elected officials and community leaders at a rally last Friday evening in McLean, VA. The message was loud and clear: this November’s election will decide whether or not Virginians continue to have access to safe and legal abortion. As abortion rights are stripped away from other Southern states, Virginia is the final safe haven in the region for individuals seeking medical treatment and care.
Equality Virginia held its 20th Annual Commonwealth Dinner on Saturday evening, and I was delighted to join hundreds at this large celebration of the progress made in protecting and expanding the civil rights of LGBTQ+ individuals in the Commonwealth. This year’s keynote speaker was Montana legislator Zooey Zephyr. The evening’s gala also honored several champions of equality, including Breanna Diaz (pictured), Policy & Legislative Counsel at ACLU of Virginia.
On Tuesday evening, I joined Delegate Rodney Willett at the Metro Richmond Area Young Democrats (MRAYD) Fall Fundraiser. MRAYD members are actively engaged in the 2023 November elections and have been outstanding volunteers and supporters. This year’s elections in Virginia will impact our younger voters more than any other demographic. At stake is our environment and response to climate change, abortion and reproductive health care, education costs and access, affordable housing, the economy and jobs, and much more.
On Wednesday morning, my staff joined the Voices for Virginia’s Children Beyond Trauma: Youth Mental Health Policy and Practice Summit and its workshops. The summit put a spotlight on youth mental health, beginning with how it affects individuals, families, and communities at the micro and macro levels. This year's keynote speaker was Dr. Shawn Ginwright (pictured), a leading researcher and innovator for youth healing and well-being for youth across the country.
Later on Wednesday afternoon, we joined many others in downtown Richmond to enjoy the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the renovated Virginia General Assembly Building (GAB). The celebratory events included a plaque unveiling and public tours of the first purpose-built office building for America’s first and oldest legislative body. Virginia’s General Assembly has been serving the people of Virginia since 1619. The GAB has over 414,000 square feet with ample room for members, stakeholders and the public to engage in the work of legislation. Shortly after the ribbon cutting ceremony, I held an Open House in our new office, and my staff and I welcomed several constituents and friends.
On Thursday evening, I joined Congressman Don Beyer and Delegate Alphonso Lopez at a gathering in Alexandria to support the Virginia Latino Caucus and the amazing array of Latino candidates for office. As Delegate Lopez shared, the Latino population now represents 11% of Virginia’s total population. This growing community has contributed in significant ways to our economy, small businesses, every industry, and public service. By the way, I’m not almost as tall as the Congressman; I’m just standing on a step!
Connecting With My Office