Schuyler VanValkenburg is a father, teacher, Delegate, and candidate for State Senate. As a History and US Government teacher at Glen Allen High, he teaches his students about the importance of understanding our nation’s history and using that knowledge to strengthen our communities.
In 2017, he wanted to further his career of public service: so he ran for Delegate to serve Virginia and Henrico County. Now, after six years in the House, he’s ready to take his service to the State Senate’s 16th District.
Schuyler’s career in the classroom and his experiences as a father of three gave him a firsthand look at the issues facing everyday families in his district. As the foremost education expert in the House of Delegates, Schuyler has worked tirelessly to ensure that Virginia remains a leader in public education. He also is proud of his work to pass commonsense gun safety legislation, protect a woman’s reproductive freedom, expand access to affordable, high-quality healthcare, and increase access to the ballot box.
In the Senate, he is ready to continue to advocate for meaningful investments to improve our public schools, introduce legislation that will attack the gun violence epidemic in our communities head-on, and work harder than ever to open economic opportunities for all Virginians.
Over the next four years, Schuyler will continue to deliver on the issue that he knows matters most to families in Henrico County.
Investing in Education
Since day one, Schuyler’s top priority has been strengthening our public schools across the Commonwealth, and he is proud to be the only full-time public school teacher in the General Assembly. Since he was elected in 2017 to the House of Delegates, Schuyler has fought for increased public school funding, helped raise teacher pay by 5%, increased access to school counselors, and advocated for students day in and day out. But there is so much more work to do, like hiring support staff, reducing cost and increasing accessibility for community colleges as well as four-year programs, and making sustained investments to ensure every child has access to a world-class education in the Commonwealth.
Protecting Reproductive Rights
Every woman in the Commonwealth deserves to make her own reproductive healthcare decisions alongside her medical provider. The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has endangered the lives of women across the nation, and here in Virginia, this right is hanging on by a thread in the Senate majority. As the only pro-choice candidate in SD-16, Schuyler will always vote against extremist bans that threaten the fundamental rights of Virginian women.
Gun Violence Prevention
The gun violence epidemic in our nation is felt here in Western Henrico, and across Virginia. We owe it to our kids and neighbors to pass robust, meaningful gun violence prevention legislation. When Schuyler is elected to the State Senate, he promises to be a consistent vote for gun safety legislation and will re-introduce his Safe Storage Bill (HB 2141) that was killed by the House GOP in 2023 without debate. This bill would hold gun owners accountable when a minor gains access to a firearm under that owner’s control which is then used to commit a crime or cause harm to themselves or others. It would also hold gun owners accountable when a child brings their firearm to school. It’s time to get to work and protect our children – not pander to the gun lobby.
Every Virginian deserves access to high-quality, affordable healthcare. In 2018, Schuyler voted to expand Medicaid — which gave healthcare access to more than 500,000 Virginians. In the State Senate, he will continue to fight to lower prescription drug costs and improve our healthcare system so that it works better for patients and working families.
Creating Economic Opportunity
For years, Virginia has been consistently ranked one of the top states for business in the nation. To stay competitive, we need to invest in high-paying jobs and programs that provide clear pathways from school to the workforce, like the Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back (G3) Program. This program provides financial assistance to certain low and middle-income students who are enrolled in an educational program at an associate-degree-granting public institution of higher education that leads to employment in high-demand fields such as health care, I.T., and early childhood education.
In the General Assembly, Schuyler has helped to promote healthy economic competition and growth, like his bill to ban noncompete agreements for low-wage workers. In the State Senate, he’ll continue to ensure that Virginia remains a place where businesses and workers want to relocate by investing in site readiness, being economically responsible, and ensuring that workers are paid a livable wage and have dignity in the workplace.
Strengthening our Democracy
When more people vote and are engaged in the democratic process, our democracy and our Commonwealth are stronger. In 2020-2021, Schuyler chaired the committee that took Virginia from the second hardest state to vote into the 11th easiest. In 2021, Schuyler worked to pass the Virginia Voting Rights Act, an expansive and monumental piece of legislation that expanded early voting and vote-by-mail infrastructure and made Virginia a national leader in voting access. Schuyler has also been a leader in other democracy-protection measures, from campaign finance to gerrymandering reform. With attacks on our democracy coming from far-right extremists, he promises to continue to fight for voting rights in the State Senate.
Expanding Equality for All
In recent years, there has been a shocking increase in hateful rhetoric and policy across Virginia. In 2020, Schuyler helped pass the Virginia Values Act, which prevents denying a person a loan, refusing them service, and stops public employers from firing a person from a job based on their sexuality or gender identity.
In 2023, these hard-won rights are under attack. In the State Senate, the Virginia Values Act will be one of the first things extremists try to repeal. Schuyler is committed to defending this legislation and voting to expand protections for marginalized groups in our community.
Fighting Back Against Climate Change
There is no disputing the fact that climate change is happening, and we owe it to the next generation of Virginians to tackle this issue head-on. That’s why Schuyler was proud to support the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which puts Virginia on the path toward a 100 percent renewable-energy electricity supply by 2050.
We can work toward a clean energy future by investing in green energy innovations that will do three key things at once: protect our planet, reduce Virginians’ energy bills, and build new modern jobs.
Increasing Accountability in Campaign Finance
There is too much money in politics in Virginia. We need comprehensive campaign finance reform to fight against dark money groups that have a disproportionate influence on our elections. Schuyler is proud to support an anti-corruption and ethics reform agenda that focuses on banning the personal use of campaign funds, setting contribution limits for individuals and corporations, and requiring donor and spending disclosure from corporations, ‘dark money’ groups, non-profits, and other entities who spend money to influence our elections.
Passed a bill (HB 1114) in his first session to prevent people from losing their state professional licensure due to unpaid student debt.
One of three Democrats chosen to serve on a select committee for school safety to address the prevention of school shootings and safety after the Parkland School shooting
Helped to pass Medicaid expansion, which enabled more than 11,000 people in Henrico County (and 500,000 Virginians) to have access to affordable healthcare coverage
Led the charge to set a higher standard for school counseling in the state budget (we got the ratio down to 1:325, the goal is 1:250)
HB 207 – Permanent Absentee Voting List
HB 270 – Parental Notification on lockdown drills
HB 330 – Ban on Non-Competes for Low-Wage Workers
HB 784 – Ballot bill getting the redistricting amendment on the ballot
HB 973 – Jim Crow Ed repeal
HB 1810 – Voter registration deadline extension in instances of tech failure
HB 1845 – Temporary extension of cocktails to-go (keeping businesses active during COVID)
HB 1888 – Absentee Voting Omnibus/Overhaul – Instituted drop boxes, pre-paid postage for ballots, and made a bunch of technical fixes
HB 2117 – Children’s Services Act workgroup and expansion of transition services through 1 calendar year for students with disabilities transitioning back to public school environments or their least restrictive environment
HB1725 – Virginia Fair Housing Law; use of assistance animal in a dwelling, penalties.
Prohibits certain persons from providing fraudulent supporting documentation to evince the existence of a disability or disability-related need for a person requesting a reasonable accommodation with respect to the use of an assistance animal in a dwelling. The bill adds a violation of such prohibition as a prohibited practice under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
HB439 – Absentee ballots; information on proposed constitutional amendments.
Provides that whenever there is a proposed constitutional amendment or statewide referendum on the ballot, the printed instructions with the absentee ballot materials are required to include the website address where the explanation for such amendment or referendum is posted on the Department of Elections website.
HB585 – SOL; work group to revise summative assessments, etc.
Directs the Secretary of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction to convene and consult a work group to revise the Standards of Learning summative assessments of proficiency and to develop a plan for implementation of such revised assessments that shall consider best practices and innovations in summative assessments of proficiency, alternative approaches to current and new assessment items, assessment items that include open-ended questions, long-form writing, and other tasks.
HB1810 – Voter registration; failure of online voter registration system, deadline extension.
Provides that in the event that a failure of the Virginia online voter registration system occurs prior to the close of registration records, the Governor has the authority to order the online voter registration system to be available for registration activities after the date for closing the registration records for a period of time equal to the amount of time during which the online voter registration system was unavailable for registration activities, rounded up to the nearest whole day, plus an additional day to allow for voter education efforts. The extension of registration activities shall apply to in-person registration and mail voter registration applications.
Electing Schuyler VanValkenburg is an opportunity to maintain, and even expand, Democratic representation in the Virginia State Senate. To prevent Virginia from becoming the next Florida or Tennessee, passing harmful and discriminatory legislation that seeks to enshrine ideological and cultural perspectives into law while bolstering division among the electorate. It is critical to stop Conservatives from gaining the majority in the Senate while we fight to regain control of the House in Virginia. More importantly, it is an opportunity to prevent his opponent, a champion for restricted reproductive rights and conservative policy, from continuing her push to enact dangerous policies in the Senate. As this district is considered politically competitive, it is an incredibly important race that we must not take for granted. Winning this district will depend on mobilizing votes all the way down the ballot.
Last day to register for primary: June 20, 2023
Deadline to request absentee ballot (primary) June 9, 2023
Date of primary: June 20, 2023
Last day to register for general: November 7, 2023
Deadline to request absentee ballot (general) October 27, 2023
Date of general: November 7, 2023
Situated in the suburbs of Richmond, the newly formed Virginia Senate District 16 encompasses much of Henrico County, including the towns of Glen Allen, Tuckahoe, Short Pump, and parts of Lakeside. The district is considered competitive politically, with Democrats retaining a slight advantage in the recent Gubernatorial election in 2021 that should not be taken for granted, exemplified by the Republican State Senate victory in 2019. Given the close historical races between Democrats and less extreme Conservatives, it is expected that Republicans will push hard to win in this district. Newly established district boundaries have maintained the strong political competition experienced in previous elections. To win this seat, it will be incredibly important to motivate every Democratic and Progressive voter in the district to get to the polls and vote all the way down the ballot.
Nested Congressional Districts: VA – 01: R+6, VA – 04: D+16
2019 State Senate:
Democrat: 52.8% McAuliffe
Republican: 46.5% Youngkin
2020 Presidential Election:
Democrat: 63.6% Biden
Republican: 34.6% Trump
2016 Presidential Election:
Democrat: 49.9% Clinton
Republican: 42.9% Trump
Registered Population (as of March 2023): 153,604 Registered Voters
Hispanic or Latino/a: 7.4%
Dunnavant is a physician and politician who has served in the Virginia House of Delegates and is the current Senator for Western Henrico. Dunnavant uses her position as a physician to advocate for stricter abortion laws in the state, being the chief sponsor of a restrictive bill that aims to reduce the reproductive rights of all Virginians. Not surprisingly, as a tried and true member of the GOP, Dunnavant then skipped the vote for her own abortion restriction bill, afraid to stand behind her own political agenda, knowing it conflicts with that of the constituents of District 16. Dunnavant also consistently votes against lowering the cost of prescription drugs for Virginians, despite being able to see the crippling impact of rising medical costs first-hand. She was also a strong opponent of covid-19 precautions in Virginia schools, advocating to end school mask mandates and fully reopen K-12 institutions at the height of the pandemic before vaccines were fully accessible. Dunnavant is a proponent of slashing funding for public education in favor of ideological charter schools. Henrico County is home to some of the best public schools in the Commonwealth and is a huge draw for families to move to the locality. In a district that is increasingly pro-choice and pro-public education, she continues to vote out of step with her constituents.
We have a unique opportunity in Virginia to flip the House and expand the Senate Democratic majority in one election cycle. In 2021, Democrats lost the majority in the House by a total vote difference of 733 votes in the three closest districts.
The new state legislative maps are fair and provide Democrats with key opportunities in open seats and new districts. With recent Democratic wins in special Congressional and state senate elections, we have the momentum to compete in key swing districts that will decide the majority in the House and put us in the position to expand the Senate.
Following action by the Virginia General Assembly, on November 3, 2020, Virginia residents voted to amend the state’s Constitution to authorize the establishment of the Virginia Redistricting Commission. The Commission was established for the sole purpose of developing maps for Virginia’s state legislative districts and districts for the U.S. House of Representatives.
With the 2020 change to Virginia’s Constitution, now the Commission will draw the maps for the General Assembly to approve. If the Commission fails to produce redistricting plans or the General Assembly fails to approve the Commission’s redistricting plans, then districts will be established by the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Following the 2020 Census, all House districts were renumbered. This means the current boundaries of districts bear no relation to the previous district by that same numerical designation.
“Since the governor’s election, you’ve seen a rise in an extreme right-wing agenda; whether that’s vouchers which defund public schools, lowers student outcomes, or attacks on history curriculum or students because of who they are.”
“Henrico is ahead of the game on this issue, but we have an affordability problem in that folks who work at Short Pump can’t afford to live near there. We’re increasingly seeing public servants in western Henrico moving out to Hanover, Goochland, and Powhatan. Eventually, those folks stop teaching, policing, and firefighting in Henrico because the commute is a killer. Once someone has been in your county for a while, they have built up skills, knowledge, and relationships that we don’t want to lose.”