Jeremy D. Rodden is a Democratic candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates District 90. His name will appear on the ballot on November 7, 2023.
Rodden is running against James A. “Jay” Leftwich Jr.
10 On Your Side reached out to all of the candidates running in this race with specific questions. The responses below came directly from the candidate and are unedited. If you do not see the candidate listed with a profile, we did not receive one.
Name: Jeremy Rodden
Race: Virginia House of Delegates District 90
Biography: Jeremy Rodden is an experienced educator, published author, dedicated advocate/ally, and father of three. Jeremy is married to his high school sweetheart, Samantha, who is a board-certified emergency room physician employed by Chesapeake Regional Healthcare. They have three children – daughter Jade (18) and sons Gavin (13) and Quinn (8). Jeremy has been a published author of middle grade fantasy/sci-fi fiction since 2011, with over a dozen publications to his name. As an educator, Jeremy has worked for the School District of Philadelphia, JobCorps, Together We Can Foundation, and is currently an active substitute with Chesapeake Public Schools. In his work as an advocate, Jeremy has been a volunteer with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) in the City of Chesapeake, Chesapeake Little League, and the YMCA. He is also the co-founder and secretary of Pride in the ‘Peake, Chesapeake’s first annual pride event that focuses on youth/family engagement and resources.
Why are you running for this office?
I am running for this office because I feel that many people in my district feel ignored by the current representatives and that their issues are not adequately being addressed. Instead, many feel that the current representative is more interested in protecting the profits of big businesses and corporations instead of serving the citizens of Southern Chesapeake. I wanted to give people a choice to vote for someone who shares their values and concerns about the future of our region.
What is the most important issue facing Virginia, and what is your position on it?
As an educator and current Chesapeake Public Schools substitute teacher, the most important issue we face as a Commonwealth is education funding. Virginia has had a historic failure to adequately fund our public schools. In Southern Virginia, we have a further exacerbation of this issue due to the reckless overdevelopment of agricultural land into residential high-density housing. This has added additional strain on our schools due to massive overcrowding. As our local officials have not stepped up to help these issues, I feel it is imperative that we work at the state level to ensure we get proper funding to help all of our students prepare for the future.
What it the top challenge facing your district, and how would you address it?
The most common issue that comes up when speaking to constituents in District 90 are the economic and environmental impacts of the loss of agricultural land throughout the district. We are seeing a massive rise in reckless and poorly planned development that is stripping Southern Chesapeake of its rural heritage and worsening already existing issues such as flooding. The increase in both residential and industrial rezoning of agricultural land is creating issues with waste disposal, school overcrowding, traffic congestion, and contributes to already problematic flooding and climate change. At a state level, we need to incentivize landowners to keep agricultural land as farmland with tax breaks and other financial supports. If we can make it more profitable for farmers to continue farming, we can preserve rural heritage, ensure we have access to cheaper, healthier food, and protect our environment.
What is your view on Governor Glen Youngkin’s proposal for a 15-week abortion ban with restrictions?
Abortion bans are fundamentally problematic as they are an attempt to legislate medical care. Medical care needs to be decided between a patient and their provider. This includes abortion care and any other reproductive healthcare choices. Creating black-and-white legislative limitations to appropriate healthcare puts patients at risk because their physicians have to worry more about the legal implications of their medical decisions as opposed to providing the most appropriate healthcare for the patient in front of them. As the spouse of a physician and woman who has personally experienced second trimester missed abortions, I know first-hand that medical providers need to be able to offer the most appropriate medical care without fear of legal issues or else patient outcomes will suffer.
How do you feel about the politicization of public education?
I feel that those that are attacking public education are doing so with a very specific agenda. They are attempting to reduce funding to the point of failure so that they can instead shift that funding to private and parochial schools. Contrary to what these people claim, those are the types of schools that are allowed to get away with indoctrinating their students because they do not have the same regulations as public education. Further, private and parochial schools are able to pick and choose their students and do not have to comply with IDEA and other federal guidelines.
What legislation would you plan to sponsor in your first year?
In addition to legislation protecting our agricultural land as mentioned above, some of the legislation that I have considered early on include gun violence prevention legislation such as waiting periods, safe storage laws, and red flag laws. I would also seek to support a constitutional amendment to overturn Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. Other legislation that I have spoken with organizations about also include medical-aid-in-dying laws as well as correcting the unconstitutional language that forces secular marriage officiants to pay additional money and jump through additional hoops than their religious counterparts, effectively creating a tiered system where those with a religious background have more rights than those without.
What is your view on unlimited campaign contributions? Should that change?
Virginia has one of the laxest systems of campaign finance and it leads to high levels of corruption and the necessity of elected officials to capitulate to their large donors instead of serving the people they represent. We need to begin capping donations, including self-donations. The ability for wealthy candidates to simply buy their way into an elected office is inherently undemocratic and needs to be controlled with campaign finance reform.
How will you still value constituents with whom you disagree with?
I have proven in my experience as a community leader in Chesapeake that I am able to talk with anyone, including those that disagree with me, with civility and professionalism. I believe that elected officials need to serve the entirety of their constituency and not just those who voted for them or agree with them. I already have a known public profile in the community and those who know me know that I will never shut down a conversation that is being held in good faith simply because of my own personal beliefs.