Jessica L. Anderson is the Democratic candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates District 71. Her name will appear on the ballot on November 7, 2023.
She is running against Republican incumbent Amanda E. Batten.
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: Jessica Anderson
Race: Virginia House of Delegates District 71
Biography: Jessica “Jess” Anderson is a lifelong Virginian, wife, mother, step-mother, community advocate, and runner. She has raised her family in the 71st District for the past 21 years, which includes the entire City of Williamsburg and parts of James City and New Kent Counties. Jess currently works as a front office receptionist at a public elementary school in her district. Jess’s priorities include strengthening the public education system, protecting reproductive rights, enacting family care policies, and passing common sense gun safety reforms that will keep our kids and communities safe from senseless violence.
Why are you running for this office?
Years ago, while going through a difficult divorce, I struggled to provide food and health insurance to my 3 young daughters. My experience navigating our social safety nets gave me a unique perspective on how we can better uplift and support Virginians during their toughest times. Like many in my community, I’m a working class mother who believes that all families deserve the same opportunities to thrive as I have had. I’m ready to serve the 71st District in the Virginia House of Delegates and get to work on the issues affecting my community the most.
What is the most important issue facing Virginia, and what is your position on it?
Unfortunately, with politics becoming far too partisan, we seem to have countless issues facing Virginians, one being the support of our hard working families. Virginia has consistently been one of the top states for business in the nation, but not for workers, ranking near the bottom with cost of living and capital needed to start a new business. We need to continue to grow our economy, attract the best businesses to Virginia, and create jobs in new sectors while ensuring that our workforce is skilled and compensated fairly. With pro-business and pro-worker policies, we can achieve both and ensure Virginia remains prosperous for years to come.
What is the top challenge facing your district, and how would you address it?
The 71st District is the best place in Virginia to live, work, and raise a family, but there are challenges to affordable living in our community. Wages are stagnant, housing costs continue to rise, and families are struggling to put food on the table and pay for child care. We must prioritize family-friendly policies that champion affordable housing, living wages, paid sick and family leave, and access to quality child care and elder care. I’m looking forward to reviewing legislative solutions that ensure those living in our community can continue to do so.
What is your view on Governor Glenn Youngkin’s proposal for a 15-week abortion ban with restrictions?
Make no mistake: Governor Youngkin’s ultimate goal is a total ban on abortions and a 15 week ban is nothing more than an attempt to appear moderate and garner votes. Youngkin refuses to acknowledge that elective abortions do not occur after 15 weeks and a ban like that would simply cause physicians to hesitate, out of fear of legal ramifications, when dealing with life-threatening medical decisions. Politicians have no business interfering in private, personal medical decisions made between a patient and their healthcare provider. I do not support abortion restrictions that endanger the lives of our citizens and criminalize them or their doctors. We currently have sound laws in Virginia as it pertains to abortion access and it should remain as such.
How do you feel about the politicization of public education?
Our public schools serve the majority of our K-12 students and deserve nothing less than to be fully funded so that we can ensure the success of all of our students. As a public school front office receptionist, I know that teachers, school staff, and the parents in our community want nothing but the best for our children. Those attempting to politicize public education and send our taxpayer dollars to private schools, at the detriment of the majority of our families, do not have our children’s best interests at heart. I will always be a steadfast supporter of public education and ensuring its success.
What legislation would you plan to sponsor in your first year?
The pandemic brought to light the amount of infrastructure and food insecurities our communities were experiencing and left us with record learning loss. Data showed that when we returned back to school and provided free meals for all, our school division saw a 30% increase of children eating breakfast and lunch. I will introduce a bill that ensures meals are available throughout the Commonwealth for our children in our public schools. We are more successful and able to focus when we are fed, and that is especially true of our children. The success of our public schools, and the students within, have a direct impact on the quality of our communities and economy and I will support any policy that ensures that success.
What is your view on unlimited campaign contributions? Should that change?
Current law in Virginia allows non-federal candidates for public office the ability to accept unlimited campaign contributions from individuals or corporations. This results in large donors having undue influence over legislators. Virginia is overdue for comprehensive campaign finance reforms, including caps on individual contribution limits and prohibitions on publicly regulated corporations (which the General Assembly is responsible for providing oversight) from being able to donate to the campaigns of candidates and elected officials.
How will you still value constituents with whom you disagree with?
I believe that civility is critical to a functioning society and government and I know that serving in elected office is a great privilege and one that I won’t take lightly. I am seeking to represent all who call the 71st District home, regardless of political affiliation, and I welcome and value their viewpoints on each issue affecting our community. I will continue that same collaboration mindset and respect when working across the aisle with my colleagues in the House of Delegates. I’m looking forward to my office having an open door policy, providing excellent constituent services, and finding common ground on issues so that we can move Virginia forward together.
Do you think James City County and Williamsburg should continue sharing a school system or would you help to create two new separate systems?
I want to be clear that this is not a state legislative decision and therefore I have little to no impact as a future Delegate. However, I am a resident, public school employee, and parent and will work within my community on local issues, such as this, even when I’m serving in our General Assembly. Our involvement in local government is critical and I continually invite our citizens to be a part of the decision making process and ensure their voices and concerns are heard. The WJCC school system has been a collective since it started and I believe it should remain as such. The separation of our school division will come at a high cost to our students, staff, and community. There are concerns over a less robust selection of courses and extracurriculars for the city and a severe lack of infrastructure for the county, resulting in an excess of additional funds needed immediately and likely at the taxpayers expense. We need to ensure WJCC remains the best place to live, work, and raise a family and the risk of higher taxes and schools with less options or oversized classrooms don’t allow for that. In my opinion, we should remain as one school division and continue to serve our community as WJCC.