Virginia Voter Guide

Virginia 2017 State Election Voter Guide

House of Delegates

The Virginia House of Delegates is one of two chambers in the Virginia General Assembly. It has 100 members elected for terms of two years; unlike most states, these elections take place during odd-numbered years.

Candidates:

Governor

The Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia is the head of the executive branch and the highest state office position in Virginia. The Governor is elected by the popular vote every four years and has no lifelong term limit, however, they cannot serve consecutive terms.

What makes you the best candidate to champion young voters?

Ralph S. Northam on the Issues

If elected, what would be your top three priorities?

I want to ensure economic opportunity for all Virginians. We have to expand the circle of opportunity for Virginians who need access to affordable and quality health care, who want to make sure that their children have access to a world class education system and who want a good paying job.

The Constitution of Virginia gives the Governor the sole discretion to restore voting rights for individuals seeking restoration. Do you support a constitutional amendment changing this policy?

I am proud to be a part of the administration that has restored the voting rights of a record number of Virginians. If someone paid their debt to society, their rights should be restored. I'll continue Governor McAuliffe's leadership on voting rights restoration for those who've served their t

What would you do to ensure that Virginians wanting to pursue higher education can do so without the burden of unaffordable student debt? How would you help graduates manage their student loan debt?

Under my plan, Virginia public colleges and universities will implement the "four year promise," a guaranteed level tuition for four-year in-state, full-time students. I will also expand UVA Wise and fight to pass a student borrower's bill of rights to protect students from predatory len

Do you support women's access to reproductive healthcare? If so, what actions would you take to protect that access? If not, please explain why.

I am a strong supporter of women's access to reproductive health care. I fought the transvaginal ultrasound in the State Senate and I will continue to fight against attacks on women's reproductive health care. I will veto legislation that limits women's health care rights, such as a personhood

What measures would you take to provide economic opportunity for everyone across the state despite socioeconomic status or race?

I'll concentrate on a set of solutions centered on three main areas: building a skilled workforce, encouraging startups, and growing our infrastructure. We should create a Virginia Rapid Readiness Program and create flexible, business-oriented workforce training programs across the commonwealth.

Do you believe Virginia should support its immigrant population? If so, what are your proposals? If not, please explain.

We must stand up to Donald Trump's agenda, including the travel ban. Virginia is a diverse commonwealth and we need to be inclusive. Our lights are on and our doors are open. Our diversity is part of our strength and I will make sure that our immigrant population feels safe and comfortable.

Virginia is currently a part of the U.S. Climate Alliance. Do you plan to continue to support efforts towards fighting climate change?

I will uphold the Commonwealth's commitments under the Clean Power Plan and push for improvements to our outdated and inefficient electricity infrastructure, which wastes a quarter of all energy produced. I helped secure funding to study strategies to address rising sea level rise in Virginia.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

As an 18-year old, I went to VMI and wanted to be a fighter pilot, but a bad eye exam dashed that dream. If I had to give myself advice, I would tell myself to skip pursuing a fighter pilot position and focus on becoming an Army doctor, which ultimately ended up being the best decision of my life.

What makes you the best candidate to champion young voters?

Clifford D. Hyra on the Issues

If elected, what would be your top three priorities?

Fixing our broken income tax code that punishes low-income Virginians, by exempting the first $60k of household income from the state income tax. Ending the drug war and reforming Virginia's abusive criminal justice system. Rolling back absurd regulations that hurt young entrepreneurs and start-ups.

The Constitution of Virginia gives the Governor the sole discretion to restore voting rights for individuals seeking restoration. Do you support a constitutional amendment changing this policy?

Yes, voting rights should be restored automatically after completion of sentence and probation, as in almost all other states.

What would you do to ensure that Virginians wanting to pursue higher education can do so without the burden of unaffordable student debt? How would you help graduates manage their student loan debt?

I would encourage students to treat their education as an investment, emphasize cost-effective alternatives to four-year universities, such as career and technical schools, and facilitate cost-reducing technologies such as on-line courses. My tax reform would free up more funds for loan repayment.

Do you support women's access to reproductive healthcare? If so, what actions would you take to protect that access? If not, please explain why.

Yes, access to quality and affordable healthcare is critical to the welfare of Virginians. At the state level, I would loosen restrictions on providers and insurers to create more choice and competition for Virginians in the medical sector, improving access and lowering costs.

What measures would you take to provide economic opportunity for everyone across the state despite socioeconomic status or race?

Provide tax relief, especially to low-income Virginians, fix K-12 schools by changing SOL tests to growth measure testing and adopting New York's charter school model, cut regulations and business taxes that hurt small businesses and entrepreneurs, expand access to health care.

Do you believe Virginia should support its immigrant population? If so, what are your proposals? If not, please explain.

Immigrants are vital to the strength of Virginia's economy and communities. We should recognize the contributions of immigrants and encourage them to settle in Virginia, in part by fostering an inclusive and entrepreneurial culture and improving the business environment.

Virginia is currently a part of the U.S. Climate Alliance. Do you plan to continue to support efforts towards fighting climate change?

Yes, particularly to collaborate on data and research. Any emissions restrictions should be coordinated with the other states, and preferably with other countries. Unilateral restrictions are counterproductive, weakening our economy and providing incentives for other states to ignore climate change.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Take risks, push yourself outside your comfort zone, participate, get involved, meet as many people and make as many deep connections as you can.

Lt. Governor

The Lieutenant Governor is a constitutional officer of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Lieutenant Governor is elected every four years. The Lieutenant Governor serves as the President of the state Senate. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor are elected separately and thus may be of different political parties.

Ask what makes you the best candidate to champion young voters?

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Justin E. Fairfax on the Issues

If elected, what would be your top three priorities?

Economic Security: Increase the minimum wage, fill open middle-skills jobs, ensure equal pay for equal work
Education: Restructure student loan debt, make college affordable, improve public education
Criminal Justice: Reform juvenile justice, end the school-to-prison pipeline, restore voting right

What type of support would you offer to young Virginians wanting to start small businesses?

As a small business owner, I know that more Virginians need access to capital, fair lending practices and lower loan rates in order to achieve the American dream of owning a business. We also need to diversify Virginia’s contracting program to include more minority and women-owned businesses.

What actions would you take on a woman's access to reproductive healthcare?

I will oppose any legislation that limits the way doctors treat patients, or that limits access to contraceptives. Any meaningful health insurance plan must include reproductive health care. All Virginians deserve access to a full range of medical services and medically accurate information.

What would you do to ensure that Virginians wanting to pursue higher education can do so without the burden of unaffordable student debt? How would you help graduates manage their student loan debt?

Virginia needs a state-based loan restructuring program to reduce the burden of student loan debt on our students and families. Also, I support reducing tuition for state-owned post-secondary institutions to substantially reduce the cost of higher education for all Virginians.

Virginia is currently a part of the U.S. Climate Alliance. Do you plan to continue to support efforts towards fighting climate change?

I support the U.S. Climate Alliance and will fight to keep Virginia committed to upholding, if not exceeding the standards in the Paris Accord. Climate change is real, and as a society we need to continue studying and recognizing its effects while promoting environmentally friendly forms of energy.

The Constitution of Virginia gives the Governor the sole discretion to restore voting rights for individuals seeking restoration. Do you support a constitutional amendment changing this policy?

Virginia’s criminal justice system needs a major overhaul. I support a constitutional amendment that immediately re-enfranchises non-violent felons once they are released from prison. This is one of many reforms we need in our Commonwealth in order to achieve justice for all.

What measures would you take to provide economic opportunity for everyone across the state despite socioeconomic status or race?

I believe that a living wage is essential to economic opportunity. I support a minimum wage of $15/hour because no worker should be paid poverty wages. We need to make both higher education and vocational training affordable and ensure that education is meeting the needs of job seekers.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

I would remind my 18 year old self that a full life is a long journey. Enjoy the moment while you’re young, but always keep an eye toward where you’re going. Occasionally take time for some long-term dreams. Have a good sense of who you want to be, and make sure you’re becoming that person.

Attorney General

The Attorney General of Virginia is a publicly elected executive official in the Virginia state government. The Attorney General is elected every four years, and they provide legal advice and representation for all state agencies.

What makes you the best candidate to champion young voters?

Mark R. Herring on the Issues

If elected, what would be your top three priorities?

1. Keep Virginians safe: combat the heroin/opioid epidemic, achieve justice for victims of sexual & domestic violence, & crack down on gangs. 2. Protect consumers, seniors, veterans, military families, & students from fraud & scams. 3. Defend the rights & civil liberties of all V

Do you believe in common sense gun laws that such as, a required background check prior to the purchasing a firearm? What if anything, would you plan to do to combat gun violence in Virginia?

Yes. I have, and will continue to fight for the reinstatement of Virginia’s “one handgun a month” law and mandatory universal background checks, including at gun shows. I’ll continue my efforts to crack down on felons with firearms and gun runners by prosecuting those gun crimes.

What is your stance on the opioid crisis Virginia is currently facing? Would you take steps to reduce rates of opioid addiction and related deaths?

We’ve taken a comprehensive approach to addressing this crisis: stepping up enforcement against dealers and traffickers, while emphasizing prevention and treatment. We passed lifesaving legislation to expand the availability of Naloxone as well as a “Good Samaritan” safe reporting law.

How would you ensure police officers are held sufficiently accountable?

I’ve launched a program to help strengthen relationships between communities of color and the law enforcement agencies that serve them. It includes training on 21st century policing skills, recruiting initiatives to diversify departments, and a program to improve police/youth interactions.

The Constitution of Virginia gives the Governor the sole discretion to restore voting rights for individuals seeking restoration. Do you support a constitutional amendment changing this policy?

Yes, regaining your voice and your vote is a key part of re-entering society after incarceration. I have supported Governor McAuliffe’s efforts to restore the voting rights of more than 150,000 Virginians and would support a Constitutional amendment to end permanent disenfranchisement.

What would you do to ensure that Virginians wanting to pursue higher education can do so without the burden of unaffordable student debt? How would you help graduates manage their student loan debt?

As attorney general, I have worked to hold lenders, servicers, and for-profit schools accountable for violations of the law that exploit students and exacerbate their student debt challenges. I will redouble these efforts and oppose efforts to weaken state or federal protections.

What actions would you take on a woman's access to reproductive healthcare?

I have been a brick wall against attacks on women’s reproductive freedom. I reversed incorrect legal advice that threatened to close women’s health clinics across Virginia, helped defeat a 20-week abortion ban in the legislature, and fought to protect women’s access to contraception.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

We’ll all deal with tough times personally and in our communities, but you can’t get discouraged or give in to cynicism. Even when we hit bumps in the road, we have to keep pressing on. Our country has always made progress because good people have fought for it. Be one of those people.

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