RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico) and Republican Stephen Imholt are vying to fill the Virginia Senate seat vacated by now-Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan (D-Va.).
Early voting for the special election is currently underway. The last day of in-person early voting is Saturday, March 25 at 5 p.m. Residents can find their polling place locations through the Virginia Department of Elections website by clicking here.
The deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration is Tuesday, March 21. Residents may, however, register after this date, through the March 28 Election Day, and vote using a provisional ballot.
The 9th Virginia Senate District includes all of Charles City County and parts of Hanover County, Henrico County and the City of Richmond, in the district’s final election under these boundaries. State legislative district lines changed after Virginia underwent its required redistricting process, and General Assembly elections this November will be the first under these redrawn districts. Much of the 9th district is shifting to the new 14th state Senate district, where Bagby has filed to run in the Democratic primary.
“I don’t know that it’s going to change the district in six months to have that change hands,” Imholt told 8News. “But I do know that people should be given a choice.”
The district occupied by then-Sen. McClellan, who has since filled the seat vacated by the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), has long been held by Democrats. That’s part of why Imholt said he wanted to get involved.
“It’s been a Democratic district. Now, there’s maybe good reasons and maybe bad reasons for that,” he said. “But there’s also basically saying, ‘We aren’t giving a choice.’ Even in a special election, there should be a choice.”
Unless Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) calls a special session, whoever comes out on top in this special election will have one main task while in the state Senate: voting on the governor’s vetoes and amendments to bills during the annual “veto session” on April 12.
“I’ve served eight years in the House of Delegates,” Del. Bagby said. “It’s time for something new, and this offers me an opportunity to serve more individuals, more constituents, particularly in the Richmond area.”
Both Bagby and Imholt said they are focused on education and building back from learning loss suffered by the Commonwealth’s students over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the surplus that we have, we have an opportunity to invest in our students,” Del. Bagby said. “The best way to invest in our students is by making sure we take care of the teachers; take care of the teachers’ wages, make sure that they are getting all the resources and support that they need.”
But Imholt argued, with state budget negotiations still ongoing, the answer to educational woes is not additional spending.
“We should have effective programs that concentrate on individualized learning programs for those children who did lose a year and a half,” he said. “I had grandkids in my dining room table for for almost a year and a half doing exactly that, going to school, doing their best. But it’s not the same. They lost ground and we need to regain that ground as quickly as possible or we’re damaging those kids for the future.”
The special election for the 9th District seat will be on March 28.