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Elections 2023: State Senate candidate responses

Photo by Rebecca Feldhaus Adams. The State Board of Elections usually certifies election results sooner, but had to wait because of a delay in the Richmond registrar's office. It meant statewide races couldn't be certified.
Photo by Rebecca Feldhaus Adams. The State Board of Elections usually certifies election results sooner, but had to wait because of a delay in the Richmond registrar's office. It meant statewide races couldn't be certified.

WHRO sent a candidate questionnaire to every General Assembly candidate running to represent Hampton Roads districts.

As WHRO receives responses to the questionnaire, candidates will be added to this page.

Senate District 20

Victoria Luevanos, 31 Accomack and Northampton counties, parts of Virginia Beach and Norfolk Occupation: Caregiver

Why are you running for your seat? To ensure women's reproductive rights are protected, that education is protected, that LGBTQIA+ rights are protected, that life-saving firearm safety reform is passed and to ensure Virginia is affordable.

A year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, what is your stance on access to abortion services in Virginia? Medical services like abortion care need to be kept between medical professionals and their patients. I don't believe it's the government's or special interest groups’ place to deny liberties to people because they wouldn't necessarily make those choices. Freedom is the access to choices. 

Does your platform on abortion procedures include other reproductive care like birth control, dilation and curettage (D&C) procedures or treatments of ectopic pregnancies? Yes, we want to ensure everyone is able to access safe and protect care.

Do you support additional classes for public school students that have to do with the history of marginalized groups, such as Black history courses? Why or why not? I do, but I also support history not excluding these groups from our fundamentals. Marginalized groups are history, our history, and dividing them up into separate classes can be weaponized for further political division even though we just want our kids to be more aware about the histories around them.

Should there be limitations on access to certain books and materials in school libraries and classrooms? If so, what are examples of limitations you support? No, these types of decisions need to be left to the parents. 

What is the role of parents in public education? That varies on who you ask, and I'm not one to blanket all parents with my point of view. My view on my role as a parent with kids in public education is to ensure that public education is providing them with the best services and opportunities possible. We want to believe that education is the great equalizer, but when one neighborhood school isn't receiving the same funding as another or the budget of the school is being cut or public funds are being diverted elsewhere, we need to reevaluate what equal really means in education.

There’s been a rash of suicides on Naval installations in Virginia. While state lawmakers have a limited role in what happens on base, what can Virginia’s leaders do to address this problem? As a veteran and DoD contractor, I saw two sides to the impact of suicides, on workspaces and the people around you. Leadership should be required to take training on healthy work practices, leadership courses when in roles of responsibilities, and opportunities for breaks from service so members can get help without pressure from work.

With Virginia’s possible removal from RGGI, what other sources of funding can Hampton Roads look to in order to prepare for rising sea levels and recurrent flooding? Editor’s note: Virginia regulators voted to formally remove the state from RGGI in June, after candidates first received this questionnaire. There are pending legal challenges to the decision. Focus on future development opportunities that are dedicated to climate change initiatives.

What forms of clean energy do you support and how quickly do you think Virginia should transition to them and away from fossil fuels? I believe Virginia could highly benefit from hydropower, if not already in the works, and the sooner we can transition away from fossil fuels the better for not only our environment but the health of our neighbors. 

According to a WHRO analysis that compares average income to average home prices, Hampton Roads housing is less affordable than any other metro area in Virginia. What can the state do to help people stay in or access safe, quality affordable housing? One initiative would be looking into freezing the property tax base of homes and thereby limiting annual increases in property taxes, as well as allowing a transfer of primary (residence) between parent and child without reassessing the tax base of the home. Rent control is another initiative, there are so many ideas and possible solutions, all we need is representation that wants to work for us.

It’s long been said Hampton Roads should diversify its job market. What industries or areas should we target to create more mid- to high-paying jobs in the region and how can the state support that? I would like to see more wage growth in education. I would love for educators across the country to look to Virginia as a place where they want to teach, want to live, and where they can be confident that the State respects their dedication to the future of our children. 

State Senate District 21

Angelia WIlliams Graves State Senate District 21, Norfolk Occupation: Realtor

Why are you running for your seat? To continue my family's legacy of serving this Commonwealth, the people of Norfolk and the community that I love.

A year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, what is your stance on access to abortion services in Virginia? We must protect a woman's right to choose in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Period.

Does your platform on abortion procedures include other reproductive care like birth control, dilation and curettage (D&C) procedures or treatments of ectopic pregnancies? Reproductive healthcare should be available to all Virginia women. Limiting that care is irresponsible and dangerous to women.

Do you support additional classes for public school students that have to do with the history of marginalized groups, such as Black history courses? Why or why not? I support teaching history as it happened. Not a white-washing version designed to make us feel better about ourselves. We need to teach the good, bad, and ugly and defer to education professionals on how to best institute that curriculum.

Should there be limitations on access to certain books and materials in school libraries and classrooms? If so, what are examples of limitations you support? Nobody is suggesting that inappropriate material be allowed in libraries. But what we cannot allow is our libraries to be taken over by political activists who are offended by books that we've taught for generations. “The Color Purple,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Of Mice and Men,” “1984,” “Catcher in the Rye,” the list goes on … all these books are being banned in schools across the country because extreme political activists are waging war against them. And that is unacceptable. We should be deferring to education experts — not the whims of the political fringes.

What is the role of parents in public education? Parents have a vitally important role in public education. Parental involvement is a necessity. Our children need allies inside and outside the classroom. Whether that be working with teachers to help with education deficiencies, helping our kids with their schoolwork, etc. 

There’s been a rash of suicides on Naval installations in Virginia. While state lawmakers have a limited role in what happens on base, what can Virginia’s leaders do to address this problem? We can invest in mental health programs and make real reform. For far too long, mental health has been a political football. It's been talked about as something we must invest in, but we rarely do. 

With Virginia’s possible removal from RGGI, what other sources of funding can Hampton Roads look to in order to prepare for rising sea levels and recurrent flooding? Editor’s note: Virginia regulators voted to formally remove the state from RGGI in June, after candidates first received this questionnaire. There are pending legal challenges to the decision. First off, we need a Governor who recognizes this threat and gets us back into RGGI. But aside from RGGI, we can continue to invest in green energies (wind, solar, etc). Companies like Dominion see the potential in Hampton Roads and are already investing into our region more than ever before.

What forms of clean energy do you support and how quickly do you think Virginia should transition to them and away from fossil fuels? Climate change is a real threat to us here in Hampton Roads. I've seen goals to transition us into a 100% green energy grid as quickly as 2050 and think we need to do all we can to expedite our transition. I'm not sure what year is realistic, but I do know the longer we drag our feet the more extreme our weather will be and the bigger threat climate (change) will be to our region. 

According to a WHRO analysis that compares average income to average home prices, Hampton Roads housing is less affordable than any other metro area in Virginia. What can the state do to help people stay in or access safe, quality affordable housing? This is one of my major themes in my campaign for state Senate. We must address the affordability crisis that is gripping our Commonwealth and region. That means providing tangible tax relief to working class Virginians, not the wealthiest among us like some across the aisle are aiming to do. We have a record surplus and can do much much more to make life a little easier for working Virginia families.

It’s long been said Hampton Roads should diversify its job market. What industries or areas should we target to create more mid- to high-paying jobs in the region and how can the state support that? I think green energy jobs provide a great opportunity. In addition, how can we take advantage of some of the landmark federal legislation to make more jobs here in Hampton Roads? I think having a Senator who knows we should be having these conversations with our federal partners is key to our region's success and I'm able to (do) just that.

State Senate 24

Monty Mason, 55 State Senate District 24, Poquson, Williamsburg, York County, parts of James City County and Newport News Occupation: Former Senior Director of Fraud Prevention and Risk Management at Visa

Why are you running for your seat? I am running for office because I am proud of the things that we have accomplished in the last ten years, but there is much more work to be done. For example, we have made great strides in southeastern Virginia with transportation and economic development. We must keep the momentum by widening I-64 to Richmond, pursuing offshore wind manufacturing and assembly companies and winning the High Performance Data Facility at Jefferson Labs.

A year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, what is your stance on access to abortion services in Virginia? I believe a woman's right to an abortion is a fundamental right and that a woman should be able to make her own healthcare decisions. I have vowed to stand in firm defense of those rights and not allow anti-choice legislators to go against the will of the majority of Virginians and take that right away. That’s why I’ve been endorsed by Planned Parenthood Virginia, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Roe Your Vote Virginia, REPRO Rising VA and am recognized as a reproductive rights champion.

Does your platform on abortion procedures include other reproductive care like birth control, dilation and curettage (D&C) procedures or treatments of ectopic pregnancies? I am not a doctor and I am not a woman. Health care decisions should be made between a woman and her medical professional without interference from the legislature.

Do you support additional classes for public school students that have to do with the history of marginalized groups, such as Black history courses? Why or why not? Every school district is different in what they offer, so I can’t say whether new classes are needed in a general sense. What I can say is that I support telling the full story of our history—the good and the bad. There are aspects that have been overlooked in the past and should be addressed. We should never shy away from teaching every aspect of our history so that we celebrate and appreciate elements of our past, while acknowledging unacceptable, painful aspects that must never be repeated.

Should there be limitations on access to certain books and materials in school libraries and classrooms? If so, what are examples of limitations you support? As someone who has championed early childhood education and more funding for our schools, my focus has been on giving our children the best education in the classroom we can provide, not bringing politics or culture wars into our schools. Children who can’t read well by the 4th grade are 15 times more likely to drop out of school, and we need to increase reading programs and opportunities to read, not limit them. I believe reading materials should be age appropriate. I also trust in the ability of teachers, librarians and parents to work together to help make that determination.

What is the role of parents in public education? I am the father of two daughters in public schools. My wife was the president of their elementary school PTA. We both participate in their education as parent-volunteers. We are part of a team, including teachers, guidance counselors, support staff, and school administrators, who work together to help do what is best for our children. I am grateful for all of those people because they have skills and training in education that I do not. As parents, my wife and I bring knowledge of our children and our family’s ability to help them outside of the classroom to the process. I believe our role is very important and we have to work together with everyone else in the public school education process to develop the best solutions for our children.

There’s been a rash of suicides on Naval installations in Virginia. While state lawmakers have a limited role in what happens on base, what can Virginia’s leaders do to address this problem? Improving Virginia’s mental health system has been a priority of mine over my decade of service in the General Assembly. I serve on the Behavioral Health Commission, where we have made significant strides in this area by increasing the eligibility for mental health providers and creating pathways for those in the criminal justice system to get the services they need. We are also working toward more community-based care services and ensuring individuals are evaluated properly to receive help in the best facility for their needs. Members of our Naval installations are also members of our community, and we need to be prepared to provide them services in addition to those they can get in the military.

With Virginia’s possible removal from RGGI, what other sources of funding can Hampton Roads look to in order to prepare for rising sea levels and recurrent flooding? Editor’s note: Virginia regulators voted to formally remove the state from RGGI in June, after candidates first received this questionnaire. There are pending legal challenges to the decision. That is a question we should be asking our governor, who is leading the charge to remove the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI. This program brought $670 million back to Virginia to create more energy-efficient, affordable housing units, reduce energy bills for low-income families and improve our resiliency to sea level rise. The legislature got Virginia into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and I don’t believe the Governor can unilaterally remove the state.

What forms of clean energy do you support and how quickly do you think Virginia should transition to them and away from fossil fuels? We are already working to transition away from fossil fuels in Virginia. Bringing more clean energy to Virginia is good for our health, our natural environment, and our economy. That’s why I have worked so hard to bring the offshore wind industry to the Commonwealth. I carried the stand-alone Offshore Wind legislation that was ultimately folded into the Clean Economy Act. I have always believed that good environmental stewardship is critical to our future and also serves as a positive economic development engine for our region and state. I also support more solar energy in Virginia as well and have carried or supported numerous bills to help bring more solar energy to Virginia. As technology creates more and more options for renewable energy, I am excited to use them for the good of Virginians.

According to a WHRO analysis that compares average income to average home prices, Hampton Roads housing is less affordable than any other metro area in Virginia. What can the state do to help people stay in or access safe, quality affordable housing? Hampton Roads has some of the fastest growing localities in Virginia, making housing scarce and expensive in some places. Housing affordability is a difficult issue across the country, particularly at this moment in time as housing stock is low when demand is high and interest rates are rising. Here in the Commonwealth we must work with localities to provide better incentives to have affordable housing as a component part of most developments. We also need to continue to fund the Housing Trust Fund and promote programs that help first time home buyers get into the real estate market.

It’s long been said Hampton Roads should diversify its job market. What industries or areas should we target to create more mid- to high-paying jobs in the region and how can the state support that? As I mentioned earlier, we need to do everything in our power to attract all aspects of the offshore wind industry and in the Jefferson (Labs) project. In addition to that, we have a great group of economic development professionals in southeastern Virginia and we should look to accentuate our long term industries as well. I believe the next generation of industry opportunities include autonomous vehicles of all types, modern tourism and academic expansion for cutting edge industries that build on the great foundation that we already have in place.

Ryan is WHRO’s business and growth reporter. He joined the newsroom in 2021 after eight years at local newspapers, the Daily Press and Virginian-Pilot. Ryan is a Chesapeake native and still tries to hold his breath every time he drives through the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.


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