By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
Norfolk Senate Representatives have lived in Virginia Beach, the Isle of Wight, and currently Lionell Spruill in the old Senate District 5, which covered Norfolk and Chesapeake. The late Sen. Yvonne Miller was Virginia’s first African-American woman State Senator from Norfolk.
Come June 20, current 90th District House Delegate Angelia Williams Graves and Super Ward 6 Norfolk Council Andria McClellan are in the Democratic primary for the new Senate District 21.
According to the last census, the new Senate District 21 covers 93 percent of Norfolk, leans Blue, and is 42 percent African-American, a cluster of several other minority racial designations, and 40 percent white.
Graves sat on the Norfolk city council from 2010 until she ascended to the House of Delegates in 2021. She also was Vice Mayor for two years.
Since mid-year 2022, the two candidates have been campaigning citywide to cultivate their voter support, not taking for granted any political alliances built during their time on the city council and for Williams Graves, in the legislature.
Williams-Graves believes her tenure in the legislature and on the council give her an advantage.
She said because she is already a member of the House, if she wins the primary, she can start drafting legislation for the 2024 session on June 21 and not have to wait until after the November election.
Graves, who owns the “Homes by Angelia” Realty Company, is quick to point out her legislative achievements during her tenure in the House.
Graves moved a Bill through the Legislature (HB2326) which allows localities to license and regulate the Daycare Centers with less than nine children. She said the death of two toddlers at an unregulated Norfolk in-home daycare during the COVID-19 pandemic prompted her to craft this bill.
She sponsored the House version of a Bill (HB2317) which raised the daily pay for jury duty from $30 to $50. Virginia’s daily rate would be the second highest in the nation.
She co-sponsored the House version of a Bill (HB1840) to further the ODU/EVMS Merger to create the Eastern Virginia Health Sciences Center. Once completed will make Norfolk a medical training powerhouse.
Graves sponsored a Bill (HB2343) that prohibits the spouse of a deceased patient from being liable for the cost of medical debt they leave behind.
She was one of 15 House sponsors of the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (HB2441); the termination of multiple month-to-month rental agreements by landlords.
She supported a non-refundable income tax credit for taxable years 2023 through 2027 for purchasing one or more firearm safety devices (HB2387).
She was the Chief co-sponsor of legislation to expand Sunday voting (HB1968) and she said that she will support legislation to fund any flood mitigation programs already underway in Norfolk.
A bill (HB2272) permitting NSU to charge in-state tuition to any non-Virginia student who has completed at least 30 credit hours, in specific fields, is also on her list of accomplishments.
Graves said crime, especially gun violence, and protecting a woman’s right to choose are high on her priority list.
She also cited protecting the restoration of voting rights, affordable housing, and funding public education as key priorities.
Graves said she supports allocating money for grants to non-profit community action agencies to provide mentoring and other mental health resources for youth and adults experiencing trauma.
Graves said a multi-pronged strategy must be applied to address gun violence without weakening Second Amendment rights but making people more accountable for their violent actions with guns. She believes there should be proactive measures in place that keep guns out of the hands of children and young people.
She also said that gun safety training should be required for anyone purchasing a gun.
“We don’t let people drive a car without taking classes and getting a license, so we shouldn’t allow people to buy guns without the proper safety training,” she said.
“Before being elected, I worked for the City of Norfolk, then represented the people at the local level on the City Council, and now in the House of Delegates” said Graves during a recent interview with the GUIDE.
“I love this city; I was born and raised here. I love the people here. I know the needs of this city and I know how to introduce and pass legislation that is impactful to the quality of life of the citizens. I have built the foundation of experience necessary to be ready on day one in the Senate to go to work for the city I love.”
Delegate Williams Graves ended with “I have been your councilwoman; I am your Delegate; and it would be my honor to be your Senator from Norfolk.”