District 25: Jennifer Kitchen (D) - Chris Runion (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 twenty-fifth state house district, which includes Augusta County, Rockingham County and Albemarle County. The seat is currently held by Chris Runion (R).
Jennifer Kitchen's answers are as follows:
Which LGBTQ+ organizations and/or events have you volunteered with and/or attended?
I planned the first Pride event in Staunton, VA. I have volunteered extensively with the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center. I am myself a member of the LGBTQ community and have a non-binary child.
If elected, what specific goals do you have to increase protections for the LGBTQ+ community?
I want to strengthen our voice in rural communities by having townhall events in district and educating people in positions who don't yet understand how much of an impact on this they have on our rights. I also want to ensure there are protections for equal pay, as well as housing protections. Lastly, I will make sure LGBTQ+ Virginians are centered in any expansion of healthcare.
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?
Things we are getting right: the LGBTQ center, creating Staunton Pride, creating safe space for youth.
Things we could improve: We need more access to affirming healthcare services and more education for the community at large
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?
My chief objective is prioritizing funding for mental health services - especially after the pandemic we need to be proactive about making mental health services accessible and affordable. We will be feeling long term mental health care effects of this pandemic for many years.
What have you learned, either while campaigning or while in office, from the queer communities that you serve or will serve if elected?
I identity as queer and am the mother of a non-binary child, so I’m learning things every day. One thing I have learned is that there are many more of us who identify as LGBTQ in rural communities than statistics reflect, because of the fear that still exists around self-identifying. That’s why it is so important to elect folks who identify.
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?
I would support numerous policies, but here are some highlights:
Virginia lacks any explicit protection for LGBTQ+ Virginians in the areas of employment and housing. I will support efforts to put such protections in place. HJ 92 was one such effort that was killed in committee. I will be a voice that champions further measures.
Bullying and harassment of LGBT students is a serious problem. I will support resolutions such as HJ 73 (dead in committee) that aim to create a safer environment for LGBT students.
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?
I would support the following actions on this crucial issue:
Creating new violence against women legislation
Protecting wages and housing options for LGBTQ+ Virginians
Creating legislation that makes it easier to change identification to reflect proper gender and name
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?
I will support education and training that prioritizes de-escalation and being involved in community building, in order to help police better serve our communities and end unfair treatment and harassment of LGBTQ Virginians.
Chris Runion has not responded to our questions as of 9/29.