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Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Today’s the day! If you haven’t already, it’s your last chance to vote in the primary election.

To vote today, you must head to your polling place. Not sure where that is? Look it up here. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. As long as you’re in line by 7 p.m., you can vote.

If you’re not registered yet, that’s also not a problem. Virginia has same day registration now, so they’ll sign you up on the spot. Here is more information about that.

Now, on to the candidates.

Charlottesville City Council

The headshots of five individuals are arranged in a collage. In the center are the words "Charlottesville Tomorrow" on the edge the words "2023 Voter Guide."
Credit: Photos provided by candidates

City Council Voter Guide: Charlottesville candidates lay out their stances on zoning, transportation, taxation, and public safety.

In Charlottesville, five people are running for three open City Council seats in the Democratic primary. The three winners will likely go on to take these seats this fall. No other party candidates have entered the race.

Our Charlottesville City Council Voter Guide asks each candidate the same seven policy questions, and lists their answers side-by-side. It’s a bit of a long read, but if you want to make an informed decision on who to vote for, this is a great place to start!

Virginia Senate District 11

The headshots of two people are positioned side-by-side in a collage. In between the two photos in a box are the words "2023 Voter Guide."

Creigh Deeds and Sally Hudson are competing for the democratic nomination in the race for the newly re-drawn Virginia Senate District 11. The district includes the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle, Nelson and Amherst counties, and part of Louisa County. Deeds has represented the greater Charlottesville area in the state Senate (formerly District 25) since 2001; Hudson has represented Virginia’s former 57th District, which includes Charlottesville, in the House of Delegates since 2019.

In terms of policy positions, these two candidates are very similar. Their differences have more to do with their personal histories and the way they go about politicking. This became very clear in the debate between these two that we hosted with students from the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

Hudson argued her experience shepherding legislation forward in a “rabidly partisan” House of Delegates, without much regard for whose name goes first on the bill, makes her the ideal candidate for the state’s evolving political scene.

Deeds said he has spent his political career as “a workhorse, not a show horse,” building both the relationships and seniority necessary to get things done in the Statehouse. That long track record, he said, would put Charlottesville and Albemarle County in a position of greater power in the Senate than it has known in some time.

If you want more details about where these two candidates’ stance on policies, check out profiles of the two written by Meghin Moore, a Charlottesville-based journalist with Dogwood News. Here is the one for Deeds, and here is the one for Hudson.

Virginia House of Delegates District 55

The headshots of two people are positioned side by side in a collage. In between the two photos in a box are the words "2023 Voter Guide."

Emergency room nurse Kellen Squire and former Charlottesville School Board member Amy Laufer are running to secure the Democratic nomination for the recently redistricted and blue-leaning District 55. That district encompasses a large share of Albemarle County, a segment of Nelson and Louisa counties, and a small slice of Fluvanna County.

This is another race where the candidates’ policy positions aren’t very different. Because of that, the race was fairly quiet until recently. Over Memorial Day weekend, Laufer accused Squire of being anti abortion — and there’s been a lot of coverage of the issue since.

Squire has said emphatically that he is pro-abortion rights and if elected would work to make those rights part of the Virginia constitution. That is also Laufer’s stated position. (Our democracy reporter wrote about this issue in more detail, check out that story here.)

You can read more about their other (very similar) stances on public education, LGBTQ rights, gun violence, mental health, energy and climate change in this story from the Daily Progress, available for subscribers.

Virginia House of Delegates District 54

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This is the district Del. Sally Hudson would have run in, had she not decided to challenge Sen. Creigh Deeds. The district is basically Charlottesville, but ventures into the more populated areas of Albemarle County surrounding the city.

Daily Progress reporter Jason Armesto has a great set of Q&As with the three Democratic candidates in the race, available for Daily Progress subscribers. If you’re on the fence about who to vote for, I’d suggest reading all three. They’re linked below.

Candidate Dave Norris is a former mayor of Charlottesville. He served on City Council from 2006-2013. He’s also been involved in leading multiple local nonprofit organizations and is currently Financial Opportunity Center program manager at the nonprofit Piedmont Housing Alliance. In his Q&A, Norris spoke about his commitment to increasing the amount of affordable housing in Charlottesville and around the state, and reforming the state’s mental healthcare system.

Candidate Bellamy Brown is a former Marine and the former chair of Charlottesville’s Police Civilian Oversight Board. He ran for City Council in 2019, but was not elected. He’s currently a member of Charlottesville’s Minority Business Commission. 

During his Daily Progress interview, Brown pointed to his experience on the PCOB, and the governor’s desire to prohibit the board from subpoenaing witnesses, as the reason he decided to run. He also speaks about the rise in gun violence locally, and how the state should close the “loophole where you can go and buy a gun illegally and then go and sell it on the street.”

Candidate Katrina Callsen is the chair of the Albemarle County School Board and a deputy city attorney for the City of Charlottesville. In her interview with the Daily Progress, she spoke about her plan for creating more affordable housing in Charlottesville and how her experience on the Albemarle School Board has prepared her for the state position. But her number one issue is abortion rights. She wants to see them codified in the state’s constitution.

I hope this helps you all make your best decision at the polls today!

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org.