RVA Mag hit the ground running at 6 a.m. this morning to take the temperature of Election Day throughout Richmond. Richmonders expressed strong support for Democrats and a great concern for the future of the Commonwealth.
“I think the Democrats have changed in a lot of ways with what they say and how they act,” said Church Hill resident, Gloria Nash-Allen. Standing outside of the East District Community Center, Nash-Allen and other community members endured the cold to inform voters on the candidates and show support for the Democratic Party.
Support for the Democratic candidate and sitting Lt. Governor, Ralph Northam, and the entire down-ballot ticket was consistent among the voters RVA Mag spoke with from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Commons all the way to the 4th Baptist Church in Church Hill.
“Gillespie ran an incredibly divisive campaign which completely disqualifies him from being a Governor for all Virginians,” said voter George Chieffo, who works for the administration of Governor Terry McAullife and was voting at Main Street Station.
Third party candidates have also played a role in this election, yet were received coolly by some voters. Libertarian Party candidate Cliff Hyra faced a tough reception at the First Baptist Church on Monument Avenue. “I don’t vote for Libertarians,” said Max Holland on his way to the ballot box. “They use cultural issues like marijuana and gun rights to bring voters in on an economic platform that hurts them.”
VCU students were early to the polls for the off-cycle election, showing support for Northam before their 8 a.m. classes. Student organizer Molly Salavantis said she voted for him in the primary, too, “Northam all the way — he’s going to be an amazing governor.”
By 9 am poll chiefs were reporting more than 200 voters at their various locations, reflecting a strong commitment to not only the state but also the city. “For a local election, this is a good turnout,” said Robert Hancock. “Whatever direction the government is going in, people want to see change.”
One thing which was clear is that voters want change at every level of government, with many voters pre-occupied with the Sheriff’s race. Most were eager to see Irving fill the position. “The Governor’s race is important but my number one thing is the city Sheriff,” said Vivian Green at the 31st Baptist Church. Green wasn’t alone in her concern for the Sheriff’s election. Voter Quiana McCormick felt the campaign for governor neglected to include voters like her. “They didn’t promote to me the way they should have,” she said. She came to the polls to vote for Irving, but when it came to the other candidates she knew very little.
“All I have to go off of is those [campaign] ads and they told me nothing,” said McCormick. “Last night I saw an ad for Vogel; it was dumb shit.”
Despite the negative ads and discussions of corruption, voters turned out because they believe they can make a difference. McCormick brought her 11-year-old daughter to the polls to teach her daughter the importance of fulfilling that civic duty.
VCU students also showed confidence in the democratic system, hoping that the true spirit of Virginia will shine through.“Virginia is a loving place, and we’re going to show that today,” said Salavantis. Her fellow campus organizers murmured in agreement.