Democrat VanValkenburg kicks off Gen. Assembly campaign

Schuyler VanValkenburg
addresses supporters Feb. 22.
Senior students at Glen Allen High School will get a personal touch when studying elections with their AP government teacher.

That teacher, Schuyler VanValkenburg, recently announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the 72nd District seat in the House of Delegates. If he earns the nomination, he will run against Del. Jimmie Massie, R-Henrico, who has been unopposed for 10 years.

VanValkenburg, a 2004 University of Richmond alumnus who majored in history, is running for office for the first time. Although he has lived in Richmond since he began his undergraduate studies, aside from one year spent in Seattle, he said he never felt it was his time to run.

In college, he described himself as apolitical. However, VanValkenburg described the “elephant in the room,” saying that Donald Trump’s presidential win was really the “gasoline” that fueled his political fire.

A self-proclaimed “Constitution nerd,” VanValkenburg said he hopes to organize Henrico Democrats, in a county that went blue in the 2016 presidential election, and create a General Assembly that follows the ethos the country was founded on – “ life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

“How do you actually pursue happiness?” VanValkenburg asked. “You have to have the access to be healthy, you have to have the opportunity to work at a job that can provide meaning and stability, you have to have access to education for mobility and self confidence.”

At a young age, VanValkenburg watched his father grow ill, lose his autonomy and ultimately lose his ability to be a parent. During his childhood in his industrial upstate New York hometown, just outside of Albany, VanValkenburg was unaware to the hardships and difficulties around him because his mother — an educator and rigid Republican — was a “superwoman.”

That relationship with his mother, he said, “is evidence that people with different political agendas may not be as different as they may think,” VanValkenburg said at his campaign kickoff event on Wednesday in Lakeside at the Final Gravity brewery.

“At the root of it all we all to some extent go by the American creed that fear doesn’t win, dividing doesn’t win and people want to be their better angels.”

In another anecdote, VanValkenburg discussed his first day out canvassing. The first door he knocked opened to a man with strong fundamentalist Christian beliefs who extolled his passionate beliefs for 20 minutes — but VanValkenburg said with a smile, “although he probably won’t vote for me, he signed my petition.”

Sara and Mark Hudson, two supporters at the kickoff event, discussed their frustration with current local and national politics.

Sara Hudson, a pre-K teacher, said she is “disgusted by adults in politics who act in ways that I would reprimand my children for… It’s sad that we teach our kids that everyone is valid and deserves love and respect, yet adults can act in ways that are so uncaring and unforgiving.”

Mark Hudson, a Republican, was at the kickoff in support of VanValkenburg, because he is frustrated with current representation and proud that someone finally has “stepped up.”

“He’s lovely, down to earth and most importantly, approachable,” said Lisa Rogerson, a VanValkenburg supporter.

VanValkenburg hopes to focus his efforts on education reform and limit the gerrymandering that he believes has occurred in the General Assembly. He said he wants to better represent the “purple” district of Henrico, referring to its increasingly Democratic leanings.

“We need someone who is intelligent and actually represents the people,” added Theresa Kennedy, a fellow supporter. “He knows what it’s like to pay bills, raise kids and knows what keeps the rest of us up at night.”

Both VanValkenburg and his supporters hope to start a movement for Democrats from the bottom up, focusing on local and state elections in order to stir democratic support at the national level in 2020.

“I’m an honest broker who listens, but willing to say I am not always right, let’s look at both sides of the issue,” VanValkenburg said. “They’ll know where I stand. That’s my appeal.”

Margaret Graham, the legislative assistant to Massie, said that Massie is “focused on state business… He will begin his campaign-related activities by mid-March.”
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Challenger Day will get students with disabilities onto the field

Students from 22 Henrico County elementary schools will take to the baseball field Oct. 18 and learn how to field, hit and run the bases. The students will take part in Challenger Day, an annual event at the Tuckahoe Park Baseball Complex that introduces students with significant disabilities to the fundamentals of baseball. The students will also enjoy games, an art project, roaming mascots and a picnic lunch. > Read more.

Business in brief

Eisenman & Associates, Inc. employee Tracie Grady recently was named the 2017 Virginia Business Meeting Planner of the Year. Grady was chosen by a committee of industry leaders among 19 nominees. The award is a partnership between Virginia Business magazine and the Virginia Society of Association Executives. Its goal is to recognize the unsung hero of the association, non-profit, and business world, the professional meeting planner. Grady works with clients in a number of areas, including membership management, publication design, membership directories and convention/tradeshow programs. She has worked in the association industry, primarily focused on meeting planning, for more than 20 years. She is a graduate of VCU. Eisenman & Associates, Inc. is an association management and meetings consulting company. > Read more.

Lakewood to break ground on $64M expansion

A senior community in Henrico's Far West End is planning a massive expansion project.

Lakewood, located on Lauderdale Drive, will break ground on the project Oct. 19 during a celebration that also will commemorate the community's 40th anniversary. > Read more.

Henrico to hold Oct. 19 workshop on Route 5 Corridor/Marion Hill Study

The Henrico County Planning Department will hold a workshop Thursday, Oct. 19 for residents and other members of the public to provide additional input for a study of the Route 5 corridor and Marion Hill areas.

The workshop will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at John Rolfe Middle School, 6901 Messer Road. The meeting will include an overview of community input received so far and an explanation of how it is reflected in the study’s draft goals and objectives. > Read more.

Nominations open for REB awards for principals

Nominations are open for the 2017-18 REB Awards for Distinguished Educational Leadership, The Community Foundation’s yearly awards that identify, recognize and support leadership excellence in the Richmond area.

Honorees receive an unrestricted $7,500 cash grant, and $7,500 to be used for school initiatives. Nominees can be principals from public schools in Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties and the city of Richmond who have served in their current positions for at least three years. > Read more.

Henrico Business Bulletin Board

October 2017

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Varina and Mehfoud Elementary PTA will host a free Fall Festival at Varina Elementary School, 2551 New Market Rd., from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The festival includes music, food, trunk or treat, costume contests, raffles, local vendors and games. There will also be a silent auction showcasing products and services from both national and local businesses. All proceeds will go directly to Varina and Mehfoud elementary schools for academic resources. For details, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or visit Full text

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