House District 71 sits a little northwest of Hampton Roads and features a competitive contest between Democrat Jessica Anderson, a progressive activist and public school employee who has a sizable following on TikTok, and Republican incumbent Del. Amanda Batten.
Batten is an outspoken advocate for education funding plans that funnel money away from public schools and into private institutions, and she supports banning abortion in the commonwealth. Anderson is a supporter of reproductive rights, funding and improving public education, and wants to tackle affordable living issues by enacting family care policies that support the economic security of all Virginians.
HD-71 went for Biden 51-47, while Youngkin carried it 53-46.
Dogwood recently caught up with Anderson to get her thoughts on what drives her on and off the campaign trail in the waning days of the 2023 election.
What’s your closing pitch to voters as to why they should vote for you in November?
I have seen and experienced firsthand the challenges facing low-income members of our community who struggle to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. I’m running because I want all families to have the same opportunity to thrive as I have had. Serving as a delegate will give me the ability to pass state-level legislation that makes a meaningful difference in people’s lives.
The election on Nov. 7 will set the tone for our Republican governor’s last two years in office. If Democrats do not retake the House of Delegates and hold the Senate, we will see an extremist abortion ban be introduced against the will of the majority of voters in Virginia. I support the rule of Roe [v. Wade] and will always be a steadfast supporter of our reproductive rights and will fight for your freedom to make your own health care decisions.
What’s been your favorite part of running for office this year? Least favorite?
I have loved every minute spent meeting voters where they are, whether I’m out knocking on doors or attending a community event and greeting future constituents. The 71st District is wonderful because of the people in it, and I’ve been lucky to meet so many of them because of this campaign.
My least favorite thing is probably the summer humidity in Virginia – it’s no joke! While I love canvassing, I spent many hot, sweaty days knocking on doors the past few months. I’m so glad that autumn is here and the weather is starting to cool down.
What’s something most people wouldn’t know about you?
During high school, I had dreamed of being an investigative journalist and entered CNU right after graduation to chase that dream. A year and a half in, life had other plans. I met and married my now ex-husband at age 20, started a family right away, and college took a back seat. However, my passion for writing and the desire to continually educate myself has remained. I did eventually pursue a business degree in 2007 and walked the stage to collect my degree while five months pregnant with my second born. I believe my need to understand the world around me and wanting to share that education with others are huge components of why I’m running for office.
If you could change one thing about Virginia, what would it be?
Many Virginians don’t realize we have elections every single year, but it’s the “off-year” elections that are among the most important. This year, all 140 General Assembly seats are on the ballot, and the legislation that passes out of our state government often has the biggest impact on our day-to-day lives. I would love to change voting turnout rates in Virginia and see more people not only be invested in what our state government is doing, but make their voices heard at the ballot box every single year.
What’s your favorite thing to do/place to go in Virginia when you need a break from the campaign trail?
I’ve found that the best way to unwind from the busyness of the campaign trail is to keep my mind and body healthy through exercise. I’m an avid long-distance runner in my community and love to participate in as many races as I can with my husband. I also enjoy a good book or a board game with my daughters, finding joy in the little things.
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