Mary Beth Gahan
A pastor from Green Run is challenging incumbent Del. Glenn Davis for the 84th District House of Delegates seat.
Davis, a Republican, plans to focus on job growth in the district if re-elected, while his opponent, Veronica Coleman, hopes to push for Medicaid expansion.
Coleman, a Democrat, said she decided to run after seeing residents struggle to get help after Hurricane Matthew last year.
“Initially, it was looking around the district and thinking, ‘Someone needs to step up,’ then realizing you’re the somebody who needs to step up,” she said.
Before she was pastor of New Jerusalem Ministries near Independence Boulevard and Holland Road, Coleman was a nursing home administrator.
“It was there that I really had an opportunity to realize what it was like to serve people,” she said.
Davis first won the seat in 2013 after spending five years on the Virginia Beach City Council. He serves on the transportation; education; and militia, police and public safety committees in Richmond. He said he has kept campaign promises to alleviate congestion on roads and points to the expansion of Interstate 64 as an example.
His focus is job creation.
“We are actually driving jobs and business away from Virginia,” Davis said. “It’s hurting the ability for us to provide high-paying jobs.”
Davis, who started his own telecommunications management firm, said he realizes job growth may not be the “silver bullet” to take out all of society’s problems. But it’s a start.
“Having an opportunity to better yourself and your family also starts to help addressing issues like crime and drug abuse,” he said.
Coleman plans to focus on expanding Medicaid if she unseats Davis. She said her time at the nursing home and as pastor has allowed her to see the struggles people face when they lack health care.
“I’ve seen those who fell in the gap,” Coleman said.
She also would like to increase Virginia’s minimum wage.
“These are people working two and three jobs to make ends meet,” she said. “I think anyone working 40 hours a week shouldn’t be living in poverty.”
Coleman said she doesn’t have “the magic number,” but thinks minimum wage should be increased gradually.
Both candidates would like to make changes to education. Coleman believes teacher pay should be increased and there should be less of a focus on high-stakes testing.
Davis would like to see more technology in the classroom to ensure that students graduate with the skills needed to attend college or be employed after high school.
“I was very lucky to have the opportunities that I had,” Davis said. “I want to make sure that future generations have them, too.”