Incumbents see competition
The November ballot will show contested races for incumbents Del. C. Matthew Fariss, R-Campbell, in the 59th House District, and Del. James Edmunds, R-Halifax, in the 60th House District, while incumbent Del. Tommy C. Wright Jr., R-Lunenburg, who represents the 61st House District, will be unopposed.
Buckingham lies in the 59th District, while Prince Edward is in the 60th. Cumberland is in the 61st.
Edmunds said this is the second time he’s seen opposition — the first time having been in the 2013 election.
“I think it’s people on both sides, Republicans and Democrats, are inspired and seem to be actively engaged in the political process, and I’m (hoping) that will translate to a good turnout at the polls,” Edmunds said. “I’m treating this race personally as I have all in the past and tried to see and talk to as many people as I can and continue to use my experience and my conservative values to represent the 60th District as best as I can.”
He said if re-elected, he wants to collaborate with Del. James William “Will” Moorefield, R-Tazewell, to help poorer areas that have not had any population growth.
“We’re working with legislative services and the (Republican) caucus to figure out what that formula would be to offer tax incentives in the form of perhaps cutting corporate taxes for 10 years for areas that are not growing — that are not seeing any growth at all — to try to incentivize industry to move to those areas,” Edmunds said. “So that’s something we’re working on. He’s kind of doing it for southwest, and I’m kind of doing it for southside.”
Edmunds cited important issues as having fewer regulations to allow smaller businesses to flourish, having a stronger education system, having clean water and air, local law enforcement pay increases and hemp production.
“The one thing that I can bring to the table beyond anybody that’s new, quite frankly, is not only the experience, but the relationships that I’ve been able to formulate with other legislators, who because of those relationships … will actually give me their ear and actually listen …” Edmunds said. “That’s how things actually get done.”
Jamaal Johnston, who was born in Washington, D.C. and moved to Central Virginia when he was 11 years old, said he decided to run because he wanted to focus on serving.
“Growing up I had an idea of politics, you know, the public servant; they step up, they serve the people, it’s nothing, you know, political,” Johnston said. “We’re not looking at party lines, we’re not looking at platform — we’re looking at helping and serving people. That was my idea of public service and politics coming up, and the more I looked at it, that’s not so much the focus now.”
He said issues that are important to him include Medicaid expansion, education and job creation.
Fariss, who faces three challengers on the ballot in the 59th District, said due to the political climate on the nationwide front, he expected opposition this year.
“I guess everybody’s got the political bug right now,” Fariss said. “It’s interesting to see, you know, some of the reasons why my opponents are running, or say they’re running.”
Fariss said he was opposed the first time he ran in 2011 but since then has run unopposed.
Regarding the upcoming election, he said he hopes a Republican governor will take over.
“Some of the things that (Gov. Terry McAuliffe) has done I certainly don’t agree with,” Fariss said. “Gun rights issues, things that he’s done, you know.”
He cited McAuliffe as not wanting citizens to be able to carry guns in state buildings.
“Everywhere he goes the taxpayers are paying him to have two or three capitol police with him to protect him with guns,” Fariss said. “I can’t get my head wrapped around that.”
The 59th District’s Green Party candidate, Marcus T. Sutphin, said he decided to run because he believes that the people in his district deserve someone who will look out for working families. He said issues that are important to him include anti-corruption, renewable energy, industrial hemp and the legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana.
He said he was supportive of a single-payer health care system “that eliminates the need for greedy insurance companies that add no value to our health.”
“I want this single-payer system overseen by a board of everyday citizens, not politicians,” Sutphin said.
David Wade Ball, of Buckingham, is running Independent in the 59th District. He said his decision stemmed from watching political party candidates “promise everything and do nothing.”
“They represent the parties’ interest and not the interest of the voters who put them in office,” Ball said. “… For that reason, I’m running because I think we need real representation not bound to any political party.”
Ball cited his major issue as improving Virginia’s economy. He said if things continue in Virginia as they have been, the state will have “a lackluster economic future.”
“If we make the changes now, in a few years we can start to see some really substantial economic gains in Virginia,” Ball said.
Tracy Carver, the Democratic candidate for the 59th district, said his decision to run partially came about due to his activism against the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
“In 1985, when I was 18 years old, I stood up and raised my hand proudly and took the oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic,” Carver said, referring to the start of his service in the U.S. Navy. “That oath doesn’t expire … I see that these pipelines and fracking are an enemy to our great commonwealth.”
Carver said issues that are important to him include legalization of hemp and marijuana and rights restoration.