All 100 seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates are up for election Tuesday.

The House of Delegates is majority Republican, with the GOP representing 66 of the seats — and several Democratic candidates in the area are hoping to flip their districts this year.

Delegates serve two-year terms. The next session of the General Assembly begins Jan. 10.

Here’s a look at the area’s House races:



In office since 2002, Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, would like to serve the 58th District for another term — but Democrat Kellen Squire is hoping to give the district a new representative in Richmond.

Bell said he hopes to continue to work on issues such as mental health and that his record as a delegate will resonate with voters.

“If they’ve approved of the work I’ve done on issues like school safety and domestic violence and would like me to continue working for them on those and mental health reform, I hope they will choose to send me back to Richmond,” he said.

Squire, who is making his first run at statewide office, said two things convinced him to enter the race — the election of President Donald Trump and his experiences as an emergency room nurse, which has given him an “unfiltered” perspective of some of the problems people in the area have.

“When people come to the ER, those filters are off, so we kind of see the hurt that’s in the community,” he said.

As a registered nurse, health care is one of the biggest issues for Squire. Other priorities include campaign finance reform and dealing with gerrymandering.

As of the latest campaign finance reporting deadline, Bell had $381,002 on hand and Squire had $25,843.

The 58th is made up of Greene County and parts of Albemarle, Fluvanna and Rockingham counties.



Del. R. Steven Landes, R-Weyers Cave, has represented the 25th District since 1996 and is running for another term against Democrat Angela Lynn.

One of the things Landes said he’s most proud of has been his work on education, such as reducing the number of Standards of Learning tests administered in Virginia schools. He currently serves as chairman for the House Education Committee.

In his more than 20 years in the chamber, Landes said listening to his constituents — those with similar ideologies as his and those whose views differ — has been important and is something he looks to continue.

“It’s just the responsibility of a representative to try to listen, take all those things into account and make the best effort in the way you vote in representing the constituency,” he said.

Lynn, who has worked as a higher education administrator, is running in hopes of addressing the issue of gerrymandering and to find ways to expand health care to all Virginians.

“We need representatives in government who understand our needs and will fight for the interests of the community,” according to her campaign website. Lynn’s campaign did not respond for comment.

As of the latest campaign finance reporting deadline, Landes had $87,877 on hand, while Lynn reported having $20,619 on hand.

The 25th is made up of parts of Albemarle, Augusta and Rockingham counties.



Education reform and funding take center stage in the campaign for the 20th District, which is composed of parts of Nelson County and the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro.

Incumbent Richard P. “Dickie” Bell, R-Staunton, said he’d like another term to push through legislation proposed in the last session to promote virtual education and to reform school discipline. Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed Bell’s virtual-learning bill, which would have created a single virtual school program pulling students and funding from divisions across the state. School discipline legislation, which would have cut down the number of days students could be suspended, did not pass.

“I’m extremely passionate about both initiatives and hope to see them signed into law during my next term,” said Bell, who has represented the district since 2010.

Bell has two challengers.

Democrat Michele Edwards, of Staunton, has centered her platform around full funding of public education, gun reform and Medicaid expansion.

Edwards is currently on leave from her position as Haiti country coordinator with the nonprofit organization Partners Worldwide, according to her campaign.

Libertarian challenger William Hammer is an entrepreneur who ran for Congress in 2014 and for Virginia’s House of Delegates in 2015.

“I will fight for property rights. I will fight to end the drug war. I will fight against cronyism and corruption, and I will bring my constituents into the legislative process and be transparent about every vote I cast,” he said.

As of the latest campaign finance reporting deadline, Bell had $46,453 on hand, surpassing Edwards’ $18,794 and Hammer’s $344.



One Democrat is running against incumbent Nick J. Freitas, R-Culpeper, in the district that includes Orange and Madison counties and parts of Culpeper County. Freitas, a senior manager for national-defense contractor KeyW, ran unopposed in 2015.

Freitas said he wants to build on his legislation passed during his first term, which included a bill in the 2017 session to allow a tech professional to teach in a public school without having a master’s degree in education, which was passed and signed by the governor. The bill was aimed at reducing teacher shortages in rural areas, and he said it’s one he’s most proud of.

Freitas also introduced a “solemnization of marriage” bill that said pastors and religious organizations that believe marriage is between only one man and one woman cannot be punished by the government. The bill was vetoed by the governor.

“Next session, I am looking forward to continuing this record by carrying legislation that will help expand apprenticeship programs for our students, reduce regulatory burdens, address the opioid crisis and more,” he said.

Ben Hixon, of Culpeper, is an artificial-intelligence researcher and a first-time candidate.

Hixon has raised more money than his opponent. He finished out the most recent expense report with $14,485 on hand, compared with Freitas’ $11,168.

In candidate forums, Hixon has supported bringing back the estate tax and expanding Medicaid. He did not return several requests for comment.



Peter Farrell, R-Henrico, announced in March that he would not seek re-election, opening up the 56th District to campaigns from Democrat Melissa Dart and Republican John McGuire III.

The political newcomers have highlighted past experience in health care and the military.

Dart is an account manager for AllyAlign Health, a small health care consulting company in Glen Allen.

She cites her personal and professional interest in health care and education as reasons she’s running for office — she has worked in health care administration for 20 years, and joined the Henrico County Special Education Advisory Committee to advocate for her eldest son, who has special needs.

“I am the best choice for the 56th District because I not only care about issues like health care affordability and education, but I have the professional and personal experience to hit the ground running on day one,” she said.

McGuire, a Navy veteran, operates a physical training workshop in Richmond based on SEAL Team techniques. His platform includes lowering taxes and supporting veterans, law enforcement and first responders.

“My diverse set of life experiences will allow me to bring people together and get things done for a stronger community,” he said. “I overcame a tragic injury years ago, and believe God gave me a second chance. I want to use that second chance and continue to work to make the 56th District the best place to live work and raise a family.”

As of the latest campaign finance reporting deadline, McGuire had $48,487 cash on hand and Dart had $17,872 on hand

The 56th District is composed of Louisa County and parts of Goochland, Henrico and Spotsylvania counties.



The rural 59th District, which is made up of parts of Albemarle and Nelson counties and all of Buckingham, Appomattox and Campbell counties, is currently represented by Matt Fariss, R-Rustburg.

Campaigns for the district have focused on rural issues such as farm vehicles, the need for jobs and opposition to pipelines from landowners.

Fariss, first elected in 2011, is a co-owner and vice president of the Lynchburg Livestock Market. He said he is proud of his bills to thwart regulation on dog hunting and to allow farm vehicles on highways for longer distances.

“They’re prime examples of the reason I went to Richmond — to stop regulation and overreach,” he said. “Rural Virginia does not have as big of a voice as it used to, and I hope to protect our way of life.”

Fariss’ opponents point to his guilty plea in March 2016 to a hit-and-run as an indicator that the district needs new representation.

“It is time for real change,” said Marcus Sutphin, of the Green Party. Sutphin, of Concord, who owns a home improvement business, said he supports small businesses and emergency services.

Tracy Carver, the Democratic candidate, has been an anti-pipeline activist and a Navy medic.

“In the beginning, it was just to make a statement,” Carver said, stating support for legalization of marijuana and opposition to oil pipelines. “But I really think I have a chance. I’ll bring attention to this district that is pretty much forgotten about.”

David Ball, a Norton contractor, is running as an independent. He did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

As of the latest campaign finance reporting deadline, Fariss had $25,536 on hand, while Sutphin had $700, Carver had $68 and Ball had $65.



R. Lee Ware Jr., R-Powhatan, who has been representing the 65th District since 1998, faces Democratic challenger Francis Stevens, who believes he can bring a fresh perspective to the seat.

Ware, a former educator, last ran against an opponent in a general election in 2013. He serves on four House committees: Commerce and Labor; Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources; Rules; and Finance, which he chairs.

Ware’s office was contacted for comment but said it was unable to respond by deadline.

Stevens, a police officer, has run for office before, having been a candidate for Petersburg’s City Council and the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors.

The national political climate is one reason Stevens said he decided to run, with others being a concern about people’s access to health care and making sure the least vulnerable have a voice in the state legislature.

“Somebody has to be their voice, and it’s not all about just balancing the budget all the time,” he said. “Although, yes, we need to be cognizant and wise about how we spend our money, we also have to have empathy, we also have to have a heart. I mean, these are our fellow human beings. We can’t just turn a blind eye.”

As of the latest campaign finance reporting deadline, Ware had $96,527 cash on hand, compared with Stevens’ $5,935.

The 65th is made up of parts of Fluvanna, Chesterfield and Goochland counties and all of Powhatan County.



House Minority Leader David J. Toscano, D-Charlottesville, has represented the 57th District since 2006 and is running unopposed for another term.

Toscano, a lawyer and former Charlottesville City Council member and mayor, said he decided to run for another term in the House for the same reason he entered public office the first time — to give a voice to those often left out of the political process.

“The people without a voice need to have one, and I have been able to be that voice and continue to think I can do that,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to another term representing this great community and listening to my constituents and trying to channel what they want into legislative action,” he added.

Toscano had $154,544 cash on hand, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

The 57th District is made up of all of Charlottesville and part of Albemarle County.

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Michael Bragg is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7265, or @braggmichaelc on Twitter.
Ruth Serven is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact her at (434) 978-7254, or @RuthServen on Twitter.

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