Virginia election preview

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, voters in Virginia will head to the polls to vote for candidates for the House of Delegates, State Senate and other local positions depending on their locality. The polls will be open between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Virginia Wesleyan students on campus who are registered to vote will be voting in the House of Delegates District 83 and State Senate District 7. The candidates for House District 83 are Nancy Guy (D) and Christopher Stolle (R). The candidates for Senate District 7 are Jen Kiggans (R) and Cheryl Turpin (D). 

This is a very important election for both political parties. The Republican Party is hoping to have a rebound after the past several elections that have shown a decline of its members in the State Senate and House of Delegates. The Democratic Party hopes to take control of both chambers. Republicans have held control of the House of Delegates since 2000 and the State Senate since 2012. 

Senate District 7 was held by Frank Wagner (R) since 2000, but he resigned to accept an appointment to the Virginia Lottery. This district is a swing district, which means there are similar numbers of Democrats and Republicans, so the vote could go either way. In the 2016 election, President Trump squeaked out a win in this district by roughly 400 votes. Money is a major component of elections, and The Virginia Public Access Project offered a profile on this district, which showed that Kiggans (R) had raised $699,663 and Turpin (D) had raised $1,164,193 through Sept. 30. 

Christopher Stolle (R) is the incumbent for House District 83 and has represented the district since 2010. In 2017, Stolle won this district with 56% of the vote. 

According to The Virginia Public Access Project, Stolle had raised $548,764 and his challenger Nancy Guy (D)  had raised $462,013 through Sept. 30. The amount of money pumped into both of these races shows that both parties view them as competitive and a key part of their strategy. 

As Director of Wesleyan Engaged, Dr. Brian Kurisky has taken up the role of hosting candidate forums for students and faculty to attend. “Thus far, we have hosted Nancy Guy and Christopher Stolle [both candidates for the House of Delegates District 83] and Jennifer Kiggans and Cheryl Turpin [both candidates for Virginia State Senate District 7],” Kurisky said. “We have also hosted Phil Hernandez [candidate for the 100th House of Delegates District].”

The polling destination for students is Ebenezer Baptist Church. Wesleyan Engaged is hoping to have a shuttle running to Ebenezer. 

“The announcement will be made the week prior to the campus,” Kurisky said. “If a shuttle van is running, passengers will be picked up and dropped off at the Marlin mural outside the entrance to Batten.”

President of Marlins Vote Dakota Felkins-Beach has led the group to invite candidates from several legislative districts to speak on campus. 

“We are really inclusive and stay nonpartisan. Getting the candidates out here to tell the students their issues gives them face time with the students,” Felkins-Beach said. “We have also set-up different registering-to-vote events, so we try to stay really politically active, so students can meet their candidates, understand the issues and be prepared to vote.”

Felkins-Beach believes that control of the state legislature is completely up for grabs. “We have a big movement to flip the state which hasn’t been done since the 2000s,” Felkins-Beach said. “Also, there is a big chance that many people will turnout to the polls to keep the state [legislature] red.”

He advises registered students to learn about the candidates and the positions they represent. 

“If you’re registered to vote, take the time to read up on the issues, read up on the candidates and make a decision that you feel best benefits you because even if you are not necessarily from here, you do spend the majority of your time here because you are a student in this area,” 

Felkins-Beach said. “These people will make decisions that will affect you throughout your four years here, so it is really important to read up and make an educated choice.”

Important Virginia Department of Elections information is that Virginia law requires all voters to provide an acceptable form of photo identification (photo ID) at the polls. Examples include a valid Virginia Driver’s License or Identification Card, valid United States Passport, valid college or university student photo identification card (must be from an institution of higher education located in Virginia).  

Connor Merk