I never know what to expect when a candidate invites me to their campaign kickoff. Will this be formal? Can I bring my two-year-old? Will the food be enough to tide me over until dinner? I’d hoped by now after nearly a decade in Virginia politics that I’d have a better grasp on event expectations, but here we are.
I felt immediately at ease when my toddler and I walked up to the palatial Varina Public Library this past Saturday afternoon. Terrence Walker greeted us with a giant grin and a split-second hopeful look of anticipation from afar. I assume that for a fleeting moment he thought we were voters who could sign the petition in his hand. We live in Northside, Richmond, but some of my favorite candidates reside in Henrico. I’ve reluctantly turned down many opportunities to sign for candidates, I’m sad to say.
Terrence was full of energy and enthusiasm as he shook hands with incoming attendees. I thought for sure that there might be 20 to 25 people there. It turns out that Silas and I were two of dozens of people who were already filtering in and out 10 minutes after the event began. Upwards of 70 people joined the campaign kickoff to elect Terrence to the House of Delegates in House District 81.
We walked into a packed conference room where a chef was setting out catered food. Terrence’s mother circulated among supporters, cheerily talking about her son’s campaign (she donned a homemade campaign shirt that showed her pride). Terrence called our attention to the front of the room where he outlined his candidacy platform. He elicited applause numerous times, especially when he spoke about his time on the PTA. Public education is a major issue for Terrence, which became abundantly clear when School Board member Alicia Atkins addressed supporters. Her presence solidified the faith, trust, and respect supporters have for Terrence.
Silas and I were grateful to see that Varina Public Library had an entire wing dedicated to children, and a huge play section for children six and under. We read books together and played with the make-believe food truck. I am always relieved when my child is not only welcome at campaign events, but his needs are anticipated before we arrive. I’d expect nothing less from a candidate who is also a father. That kind of inclusivity and thoughtfulness gives me confidence that I’m in the right place with the right people.
My biggest takeaway from Terrence’s campaign kickoff is how excited so many voters are to elect him in 2023. I found myself cheering loudly when he gave his stump speech that very clearly came from the heart. I made a mental note to keep all of his campaign literature to add to my scrapbook when I got home.
The only downside I can see for miles is that I don’t get to vote for Terrence myself.
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