District 20: Randall Wolf (D) - John Avoli (R)
Early voting began September 17th and runs through October 30th. As a reminder, you do not need to a reason to vote early or absentee. You can vote at your local registrar's office during their regular business hours. Local registrar offices and hours are:
Staunton: Staunton Voter Registration Office - 116 W. Beverly St, 9 am to 5 pm
Augusta County: Government Center - 18 Government Ln, Verona, 8 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm
Waynesboro: Voter Registration Office - 250 S Wayne St Suite 205, 8 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm
To ensure our LGBTQ+ community, and allies, are educated on the candidates running for Delegate, the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center sent a series of questions to every candidate.
This race is for the twentieth state house district, which includes Staunton City, Augusta County, Waynesboro City, Nelson and Highland Counties. The seat is currently held by John Avoli (R).
Randall Wolf's answers are as follows:
Which LGBTQ+ organizations and/or events have you volunteered with and/or attended?
I have not directly attended any LGBTQ+ events, I was planning on attending Staunton’s Pride event that was recently and wisely cancelled. I have spoken at the Augusta County School Board meeting in support of transgender rights. I have also worked directly with a transgender teen who had to perform community service at Bike Box, a nonprofit bike shop.
What do you think the community you serve is doing right in terms of being a welcoming place for LGBTQ+ community members? What do you think needs improvement?
The majority of the people in the Shenandoah Valley create a welcoming community, while far from perfect. Recently some of the school districts focused on fear and hatred against the people in the LGBTQ+ community and their families. Those negative actions have brought their fears into the open and solidified the supporters. We need to support the work of the Shenandoah LGBTQ+ Center and make sure that we elect local leaders who accept, support and are members of the LGBTQ+ community so that we are truly one community. Legislation should include LGBTQ+ protections in hiring, education, housing, healthcare and other areas where discrimination or harassment take place.
The LGBTQ+ community faces huge health care disparities, and this is well-documented. Healthcare can be difficult to access, often unaffordable, and often fraught with trauma. What specific plan(s) do you have to not only increase access to healthcare but also improve it overall for the queer community?
Healthcare is a human right and that includes mental and behavioral healthcare. I want to see behavioral healthcare crises teams as a third part of the 911 system. Also, local state run or supported short-term care facilities to prevent criminalization of people who need care. I need a greater understanding from you on your needs for access and better healthcare that I would support.
Talk to us also about healthcare improvements, as well as accessibility improvements, you’d like to see for the queer disabled community.
This should begin with training of school counselors, school nurses, and other frontline medical personal to better understand your needs. There should also be clear nondiscrimination policies in place for public and private healthcare workers. I am also interested to learn more about your views on what is needed to be supportive.
What action will you take to expand and improve access to mental health services in the community you serve, as well as the state of Virginia as a whole, for the LGBTQ+ community?
As noted above I feel we need a third team of 911 responders who are dedicated and trained in mental and behavioral healthcare. Next is local short-term facilities to stabilize and treat people to help them return quickly to their homes. If needed to evaluate people for longer term care. I would pay for this with new tax revenue from legalized marijuana.
What will you do to ensure protections put in place for trans students not only remain in place, but continue to improve so that trans, and other queer students, can succeed in public schools in Virginia? Please discuss the importance of the recent model policies put into place in Virginia for trans students.
I strongly support the guidelines for public schools for trans and queer students. This has also been supported in recent Supreme Court rulings. So the laws and policies are in place, now it must be education for staff and the public and enforcement of these policies. As I write this I wonder if every school system needs a dedicated counselor for inclusion. Someone fully trained in your needs and de-escalation to address others who might bully, harass or harm at-risk groups.
Which specific legislative actions related to the protection of the LGBTQ+ community have you endorsed and/or advocated for?
See above, but again, I’d be interested to learn more from you about legislation that you feel is needed.
What have you learned, either while campaigning or while in office, from the queer communities that you serve or will serve if elected?
I’ve witnessed the raw fear and hatred at the Augusta School board meeting. I’ve learned firsthand from the teen I was working with of his harassment in school and challenges he faced to access a bathroom. I understand that many suggest a segregated approach, which is harmful and hurtful. I’ve learned this is more common and awareness of being trans or queer can begin at an earlier age.
What legislative acts would you like to see at the local and state levels to improve the lives of queer community members?
I will be a willing voice of support on policies of anti-discrimination for the LBTGQ+ community. I will support policies that mandate training for educators, frontline responders and other state employees to make them aware of these polices and expand acceptance.
Every jurisdiction has the power to enact policies that can improve the lives of queer people. What specific policies have you supported and why? What specific policies will you advocate for while in office?
Marginalizations often intersect in dangerous ways. Nowhere is that more apparent than with trans women of color. What action will you take to address the epidemic of violence facing trans women of color, particularly Black trans women?
Most of these questions lead to the same key answers, awareness, education, and including the LGBTQ+ community in discrimination and hate crime laws. I’d welcome other suggestions.
What specific police reform initiatives have you endorsed/advocated for in the past that address issues of concern to the LGBTQ+ community? Particularly queer BIPOC community members. What specific police reform initiatives do you plan to endorse/advocate for once elected?
For law enforcement we need to include training on LGBTQ+ lifestyles and needs so they understand and accept you for who you are. But beyond that we need to create the third group of care givers to respond to mental and behavioral health needs so that law enforcement is not involved on those calls or in a secondary role.
Queer youth are at greater risk of facing homelessness. What are your ideas for addressing teen homelessness in the LGBTQ+ community both on a local and state level?
See above regarding special consular in our public schools. Additional funding for homeless shelters and include anti-discrimination policies for the LGBTQ+ community to receive the funding.
John Avoli has not responded to our questions as of 9/27.