The 2023 General Election may seem like a distant future for many, but for those interested in becoming a candidate, time is of the essence.
In addition to the Virginia State Senate and House of Delegates, all five of Louisa’s constitutional offices will be on this year’s ballot. The offices of Commonwealth’s Attorney Sheriff, Commissioner of the Revenue, Treasurer, and Clerk of Court all have four-year terms.
Louisa County residents in the Cuckoo, Jackson, and Louisa Districts will all have their supervisor and school board representatives on this year’s ballot, as well.
To educate current and potential candidates, as well the general public, on what is required before, during and after a run for office, Louisa County General Registrar Cris Watkins hosted a candidate information forum last Thursday, February 16, at the Louisa County Office Building’s public meeting room.
“People can often be intimidated by the paperwork and bureaucracy involved in running for public office,” Watkins said. “But I often hear from people who have done it that it wasn’t as bad as they initially thought.”
Another task many find daunting in the candidacy process is the petition, Watkins said.
“In Virginia, if you want to be on a ballot for public office, you need to have a witnessed and notarized petition with at least 125 signatures,” Watkins said. “You’re allowed to have help with that, so long as you follow the guidelines [from the Virginia Department of Elections].”
Watkins’ candidate information forum also featured a guest speaker: Tammy Alexander, a training specialist and compliance officer with the Virginia Department of Elections. She said that recent technological innovations have made the process of filing campaign finance reports much simpler.
“COMET is the Committee Electronic Tracking system, and it is where you can submit all your campaign finance forms on time, from your smart phone,” she said. “It came out in 2021 and it really makes things much simpler now that you can file your reports from a smartphone.”
The deadline for an independent candidate to file their certificate of qualification, statement of economic interest and declaration of candidacy documents is June 20th. Those running as a party candidate must have their documents submitted by April 6 to participate in their party’s primary or nomination convention. Both Watkins and Alexander said that they cannot accept anything even a second past the particular deadlines.
“We can’t grant extensions because it wouldn’t be fair to other candidates,” Watkins said. “We couldn’t do it if we wanted to.”
Further complicating the 2023 election is the recently adopted statewide redistricting plans.
Redistricting occurs immediately following the completion of the national census. After the 2010 census, the entirety of Louisa County was drawn into the 56th District of the House of Delegates, and mostly into the 17th District of the Virginia Senate.
The current redistricting cycle is based on the 2020 census and was approved in 2021. It divided Louisa County into two different State Senate Districts (the 10th and 11th) and two House of Delegates Districts (the 55th, and 59th), with the border between them running across the western third of the county, placing the Trevilians, Gordonsville and Zions Crossroads areas in the 11th State Senate District and 55th House of Delegates District.
The 10th State Senate District is an open seat, and the race features two faces that may be familiar to residents of Louisa County: Del. John McGuire of the 56th House of Delegates District and Supervisor Duane Adams, who currently represents the Mineral District in the Louisa County Board of Supervisors.
Sen. Creigh Deeds holds the 11th State Senate District, and is facing challenge from within his party, from democrat Sally Hudson, and from without, from Republican Phillip Hamilton and Independent J’Riah Gurrero.
Louisa attorney Graven Craig is running in the Republican Primary for the third time for the House of Delegates in the 59th District.
Del. Rob Bell, incumbent for the House of Delegates 55th District, is facing a challenge from Amy Laufer, who ran for a seat in the U.S. Congress in 2018.
In spite of the complicated changes to our state districts, the paperwork required to be a candidate and the headache of constantly accounting for every dime spent of campaign donations, Watkins said it is all worth it to help the community.
“I’ve never had someone tell me they regretted it.”
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