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Elections offer voters chance to shape state’s future

Staff Photo
A sign welcomes voters to a long day of voting on Nov. 7. Many Petersburg citizens voted at Petersburg High School.

Falling leaves, shorter days, and lower temperatures can mean only one thing: It’s election season. 

This year, seats in both Virginia’s House of Delegates and Senate are up for grabs, a biannual tradition. Though Republicans and Democrats are vying for control through attack ads and excessive funding, the decision ultimately comes down to the voters. 

Virginia citizens who are registered to vote will have direct choice of who rules the state for the next two to four years (House & Senate respectively). A choice with increasing weight as Virginia teeters on the verge of conservatism. 

Currently, the state bleeds purple; Republicans controlling the House with a four-seat lead and Democrats with a narrow two-seat lead in the Senate. With no strong majority in either direction, the results will be close, regardless of the victor. 

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Democratic leaders throughout the country fear a double-GOP victory, as this would officially render Virginia a red “trifecta” state; a term used to describe states where the Governor, Senate, and House are all controlled by one party. This would give Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin the opportunity to enact more conservative legislation. Particularly, edgy changes to Virginia’s current abortion terms. Despite 54% of likely voters opposing Youngkin’s proposed 15-week ban (the Wason Center), a Republican-led government could bring it to life before the end of the year.

Recent redistricting (a source of contention among candidates) has uprooted traditional district-lines. The majority of Petersburg City (previously District 63) is now considered the 82nd House district, where incumbent Kim Taylor (R) and former, Virginia State University employee, Kimberly Pope Adams (D) vie for the seat. Petersburg has also shifted from District 16 to Senate District 13, where incumbent Eric Ditri (R) and former Delegate Lashrecse Aird (D) fight for votes.

A race frequently referred to as the “Battle of the Kim’s,” both candidates have viciously launched a series of attack ads pointing out each other’s flaws. On the economy: Taylor insists that tax-cuts are key while Adams is in favor of raising the state’s minimum wage. 

On public safety, although neither candidate agrees with the defunding of law enforcement, Adams more liberally argues for preventative measures (ex. funding public institutions). On abortion, Taylor has publicly stood against abortion and has been accused of funding pregnancy-crisis centers. Adams opposes all measures meant to limit access to abortions and contraceptives.

Though the 13th District is new, the cities it covers have historically scored blue. However, taking no chances, Aird has easily outraised Ditri and placed an estimated $2.5 million dollars in funding between her junior.

On the economy, Ditri errs on the conservative side with tax-reductions while Aird has a record of providing tax incentives for disadvantaged communities. 

On public safety, both candidates agree that crime rates in Petersburg should urgently be addressed. Ditri vaguely promises to be tough on crime. Aird has successfully passed the first-of-its kind Breonna’s Law. The law, named after the late Breonna Taylor, prohibits the use of no-knock search warrants. 

On abortion, Ditri has offered no statement on his stance and will likely side with his party against abortion. Aird has passed a bill bolstering protections for abortions in the State.

Will Democrats retain their control in the Senate, making Virginia the last blue stronghold in the South? Or will Virginia, like Florida, become a Republican trifecta state, where reactionary bills are passed with ease?

Votes were cast until the last polling center closed at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov 7. The university gave students the day off in observance of Election Day. 

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