This story originally ran on the Capital News Service.
Democratic Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg and Republican Christopher Holmes will face off in the Virginia House’s 72nd district race.
VanValkenburg has held the seat since winning the 2017 election against Republican Eddie Whitlock by 5.7%.
“It’s not really different,” VanValkenburg said, referring to this year’s campaign versus his 2017 campaign. “You should run the same race the same way – going out and asking people to earn their support and talking about the things that you value and working hard and showing them you care.”
Holmes defeated Thomas Gardner for the Republican candidacy in June with more than 70% of the vote.
The 72nd District has a population of just under 90,000 people, 66% of which are white. The second biggest demographic in the district is Black voters, accounting for 13% of the population, and then Asian voters accounting for 11%, according to CensusReporter.com.
VanValkenburg is a teacher at Glen Allen High School in Henrico. One of his priorities for the district is investing in education, a position he has held since stepping into office.
“I think we really got a chance to take our education system to the next level,” VanValkenburg said. “The next step is to really kind of transform the system and that’s what has me excited.
“That means reforming how we test students, reforming how we get money to schools so the money goes where it’s most needed, doing things like career ladder so that we can keep teachers in the teaching profession.”
Holmes works as an operations infrastructure manager at a health savings account company. Holmes is prioritizing supporting law enforcement and helping small businesses, according to his campaign website. His office said he was unavailable for an interview for this article.
“As your Delegate, I have pledged to focus on standing strong for our law enforcement who protect our communities, getting our education system back on track and focused on what students need and ensuring that small businesses can thrive and grow with lower taxes and less regulation,” he wrote on his campaign’s Facebook page.
Richard Meagher, professor of political science at Randolph-Macon College, said VanValkenburg was well liked by his colleagues and the larger Democratic Party of Virginia. He described VanValkenburg as a Democratic stalwart.
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“He’s one of these backbone guys,” Meagher said. “There is lots of support for him within the party and no ill will towards him.”
Contact Capital News Service reporter and sports editor Krystian Hajduczka at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Capital News Service reporter and news writer Eli Kline at email@example.com.
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