Creigh Deeds has never faced a primary challenger in the more than 20 years he’s been in the Virginia Senate. Now he is running in the new District 11 but he will have to get more votes than Delegate Sally Hudson in that contest. She is forgoing her current seat to make the challenge.
The two appeared last week at a legislative forum held last week by the University of Virginia. This event was not a debate but offered a glimpse into their different approaches to being a legislator.
Deeds had the opportunity to go first and make some remarks about the upcoming General Assembly Session which begins on January 11. The session came at a time when the UVA community is still mourning the murder of three students.
“We owe it to everybody who has been affected by this tragedy to figure out as much as we can about what happened and why it happened and then see what sort of policy changes can be made, if any, to move us forward and to do a better job of protecting the community, protecting kids, protecting everybody,” Deeds said.
However, Deeds warned that it will be difficult to get any changes in the upcoming session which will only be 46 days long and will be more influenced by Governor Glenn Youngkin.
“The Governor has already announced that he wants $390 million more pumped into tax cuts but recently he said we need to spend more on mental health,” Deeds said. “I can tell you that we really do need to spend more on mental health.”
Deed also said it will also be a very political session with all 140 legislators on the ballot in the first election after redistricting.
Delegate Hudson teaches economics at UVA and said she understands how the community has been affected by the shootings.
“We were just beginning to feel as if we had a semester where the students were somewhat back to normal,” Hudson said. “Students come to the University of Virginia to be pushed. As a teacher, you want school to be the hardest thing going on in your students’ lives. You want them to stay up with a problem all night that they are obsessed with or building the set in the play that they are starring in. Whatever it is you want them to be able to throw themselves at something here and so it has been hard for the last three years to feel as if some of that has been stolen from our students.”
Hudson said gun safety is a priority for her in the upcoming legislative session. She said her service on Health and Finance committees keeps her busy during that time and workforce legislation is a primary interest.
“There are the longer problems in our larger community beyond the University’s boundaries in housing and employment and energy and all of the above,” Hudson said. “Truth be told, it’s entirely too much work to squeeze into six weeks but we do our best.”
The first question came from a man in Greene County named Craig Decker.
“Seems to me that when the Democrats got control of the Assembly finally, they put more effort into putting more effort into a progressive agenda and less into solidifying their gains,” Decker said. “First of all, do you think that’s true, and secondly, if it is somewhat true, what lessons have you learned and what plans do you have going forward?”
Deeds said he felt that sentiment was somewhat correct and told a story about former Virginia Congressman Rick Boucher, a Democrat who held a seat in southwest Virginia for many years before being defeated in 2010.
“Back in 2010 when he was getting ready to lose, he said there were two things that caucus leadership has a responsibility for,” Deeds said. “One is doing good things and two is protecting members of the caucus. So when you focus so much on policy sometimes, you’re not protecting members of your caucus. And the House of Delegates lost a majority last year. I think a longer term view is you have to got figure out how over the long haul you can accomplish good things and that means you have to focus on protecting your caucus.”
Hudson said she felt the most important thing Democrats did while holding a majority in both Houses was to pass legislation to secure the right to vote.
“In the first term, we passed extraordinary legislation to repeal voter suppression tactics that had been on the books for decades,” Hudson said. “We are now a nationwide leader in convenient voting, in same-day registration, in automatic registration, measures which we have seen have great success here among students at the University of Virginia, making it easier for younger people to vote. And most critically what we did was pass a Constitutional amendment that delivered fair maps in the first time in the 400 year history of the General Assembly.”
Watch the entire event on YouTube:
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