The newly drawn Virginia Senate District 28 stretches from Spotsylvania to Rappahannock, and includes Orange, Culpeper, Greene and Madison counties and part of Fauquier County. Three certified candidates, Jason Ford (D), Bryce Reeves (R) and Elizabeth Melson (I), are on the ballot seeking to represent the new district in the Senate of Virginia.

Sen. Reeves has spent 12 years in the state senate. Ford and Melson have never held election office.

Charlottesville Tomorrow sent just a few questions to state candidates, informed by more than 200 responses to a voter survey this summer.

The candidates were invited to participate by email, to the addresses they provided when they registered. Only Melson responded, and her answers are below, along with other media coverage of the race.

Many Americans feel political parties are becoming more polarized. Do you see this happening in your district? If so, how do you feel it affects our government?

Elizabeth Melson: I am running as an independent for this reason. The two major parties are top-down organizations focused on fundraising, special interests, dogmatic beliefs, purity tests, and gaining control of our government. When our elected officials are hyper-focused on gaining control of the House or Senate (or trifecta of both the chambers plus the Executive branch), they lose sight of those they are supposed to be representing and they aren’t able to hold civil discourse to explore common ground. We the people lose.

Jason Ford: Did not respond.

Bryce Reeves: Did not respond.

What is your position on Youngkin’s proposal to limit abortion access after 15 weeks of pregnancy?

Melson: While out campaigning and listening to the people of the new 28th Senate District, I’ve learned that a large portion of Virginians want no change to our current abortion access laws. There’s also a noticeable, but smaller, portion of the population who would accept Youngkin’s proposal. I think our government can come to a compassionate consensus that allows for access to reproductive healthcare, contraception, and safe, legal, and rare abortion access. We can also support programs that help young mothers and fathers who may want to choose life.

Ford: Did not respond.

Reeves: Did not respond.

What is your position on Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)?

Melson: If RGGI increases utility rates for ratepayers and isn’t effective at capturing carbon, then we should be looking at more effective ways of creating incentives for energy diversification and carbon reduction. Perhaps that looks like assistance for rooftop solar or other alternatives that help homeowners, schools and government buildings be more energy independent, while reducing our carbon footprints. Just because a program sounds good, doesn’t mean it is working.  

Ford: Did not respond.

Reeves: Did not respond.

Many cities have seen an increase in gun violence since the pandemic. What would you as a legislator support doing to address this public health crisis?

Melson: We need more access to community centers and mental health services, recruiting and retaining mental health workers, and use of telemedicine in areas that have shortages of mental health providers. We can work to destigmatize seeking counseling and behavior modifications and bring mentorships into our localities, schools and workplaces. Our communities can promote prosocial behaviors like clubs, support groups, wellness and civic engagement. Virginia’s General Assembly and Congress can work with localities to address the inequities, inflation and lack of affordable housing. We need transformational change to stabilize our communities.

Ford: Did not respond.

Reeves: Did not respond.

Like elsewhere in the country, political candidates in Virginia are receiving millions of dollars in campaign contributions this election. What effect do you see this having on state and local government in Virginia?

Melson: I have chosen to not accept money from large corporations, pledged to not accept contributions from monopoly utility companies, and only accept donations from PACs [political action committees] on a case-by-case basis and in limited amounts. Support from my campaign has come mostly from self-funding, friends, family, local farmers and small business owners. Running a campaign and being an elected representative should be about the people of the district, not special interests and big corporate control of the policy making process. It’s frustrating to see so much money going to candidates, we need reform. I look at all the money pouring in and can’t help but think about all the problems we could be solving if those millions of dollars were diverted directly to programs instead of candidates.

Ford: Did not respond.

Reeves: Did not respond.

Are there any other pressing issues facing your district you want voters to know about?

Melson: Nothing can change until we implement good governance upgrades like term limits, campaign finance reforms and ranked choice voting. Many elected officials are beholden to their corporate sponsors. You can change that today by voting for independent candidates or candidates who reject the status quo and are collaborative and willing to work in cross-partisan coalitions to solve problems. Candidates should earn your vote, not expect it. I am running to put people over partisanship and enact reforms that hold our electeds accountable to we the people.

Ford: Did not respond.

Reeves: Did not respond.

More about the candidates for to represent the 28th Senate District

Polls in Virginia close at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, night. The Virginia Department of Elections will publish election results in real time, as they arrive from precincts around the state. To view them, head to this link. These are unofficial results until they are certified. Here’s more about how to get election results.

  • Sept. 22: First day of in-person early voting at your local registrar’s office.
  • Oct. 16: Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration. You can also register after this date, and on election day, but you will vote with a provisional ballot, could take longer for officials to count because they will verify your eligibility.
  • Oct. 27: Deadline to apply for a ballot to be mailed to you. Your request must be received by your local registrar by 5:00 p.m.
  • Oct. 28: Voter registration offices open for early voting.
  • Nov. 4: The last day of in-person early voting at your registrar.
  • Nov. 7: Election Day. Here is where you can find your polling place.

Need to know if you’re eligible to vote? Here are resources from the Virginia Department of Elections.


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